Pots and a poet

Just a week ago, our village was bursting at the seams.   It was the second McGregor Poetry Festival which brings many people and amazing poets to our village – including a colleague and his wife.  She and I had worked together nearly thirty years ago and we hadn’t seen each other since those days – and when we had all lived and worked in Johannesburg.  Lots of water under various bridges, children born and grown up, and we bump into each other in McGregor!  So lovely to see them both and to have an all too brief catch-up…

I will confess:  Poetry – she and I are not friends.  When I read English, the novel was my thing.  Still is.  That said, I do enjoy the poetry of song lyrics.  The Doors, Queen, Bob Dylan, Bright Blue, Freshlyground, Dire Straits, and Leonard Cohen, are just some of the artists whose songs and lyrics speak to me in magical ways, and have, for years. If I had taught, as was part of my original life plan, I know that I would have used popular and contemporary music as a mechanism of piquing my charges’ interest in poetry.

As often happens in life, timing could not have been worse for me:  a project on which I had been working for nearly a year was approaching its end or, more to the point, its end had come and gone, but the work just seemed never ending.  The light at the end of the tunnel really had been the proverbial oncoming train.

And then, what relief when my colleague and I had our daily check-in, and she said,  “We’re there!”

All that remained was to tie up the last loose ends.

And that was the day that before the poetry festival began.

And our closeout conversation ended, literally, as the lovely Lara Kirsten, arrived.

She stayed in our tiny guest room while she discovered McGregor and charmed audiences with her words and music.


So, why “pots”, you’re asking.  Well, I had promised a large quantity of ratatouille for a street food stall, and a bit like my project, the ratatouille grew out of its pot (twice) and I ended up with a kitchen that was wall to wall pots and receptacles.  Over two days, I must have chopped about fifty onions because I also (madly) made a batch of onion marmalade, but more of that another time…


Happily, as with so many things, it all works out in the end:  the ratatouille made its way to right place at the right time and, more importantly, McGregor’s second Poetry Festival was a success.

I hope that Lara will be back to share some more of her music and poetry at the 2015 festival.

Lara_CaritasHere, Lara performs in Caritas which is in the beautiful Temenos gardens.

Finally, here are two of Lara’s poems, one in Afrikaans and the other in English.

klou en wag

ek lê in die bed met
‘n pen vasgeklem in my hand
en ‘n papier gekrater onder my elmboog
wagtend dat my drome heel moontlik
die pen sal vat en
die nag se poësie sal
neerskryf in die hoop dat
die griffels die weg sal wys
en die rigting sal skryf binne-in
die stuk wit wat die kaart
van my kreatiewe lewe sal uitlê

sal die swart rots
in die reën en son
en tekens
sal die toekoms
helder in my oë

ek het geen probleem om te wag

pen in hand

‘n stille krag


we are too weighed down by our ideas and our minds

we are too weighed down by our ideas
our minds
our wants
our ideals
our habits and our fears
our shames and our sighs

our minds are heavy
look how we all walk with our heads
trailing like heavy baggage behind us
they just can not keep upright anymore
all these orthopaedic concerns are because of
our heavy heads
i am surprised they have not exploded yet
thanks to all our smartphones, laptops and tablets
they carry a part of the great heaviness
of too many ideas
what would we have done if we could not steer
the overflow into these metal brains?
maybe because we have these metal brains
our fleshy brains just keep on churning the thinking
the computing
the inventing
continual stimulation between inorganic and organic matter

fuck this!
arch out our backs
lift our heads
and shake all the heaviness out
be light and empty
feel the air move between our ribs
our diaphragms
and every cell
feel our feet
losing touch with the earth
start to rise
and float to the lightness of the clouds

Read more of Lara’s poetry, and listen to her music on her blog

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