Posts Tagged ‘Rita Dove’

Nini Bennett. Openbare vervoer as teater van sosiale protes.

Monday, November 30th, 2015

train surfing

In 2012 word ek genader om ’n kort boekoorsig oor Imraan Coovadia se roman, The Institute for Taxi Poetry vir ’n vrouetydskrif te doen. Die verhaal handel oor fiktiewe taxi-digters in Kaapstad, en hoe die pendelaars sin probeer maak uit hulle alledaagse bestaan deur die skryf van poësie: die werkersklas se lief en leef en protes vind gestalte in digterlike vlugskrifte. Die volgende raak beskrywing val my op: The taxi poet, according to Adam, is “a chimera, part politician, part social worker, part navigator and banker, nurse and first responder. His function is to record “all the shifting sensations, impressions, and moving feelings,” some of which are so enigmatic that they can only be inserted into public memory by the poet. Implicit in these definitions of the characteristics of a taxi poet is the textualisation of contemporary concerns via the medium of poetry by an “everyman” figure. It may thus be inferred that the taxi poet is located in the nexus between public and private memory. Die volledige resensie deur Thando Njovane is hier. (http://www.litnet.co.za/a-national-treasure-imraan-coovadias-the-institute-for-taxi-poetry/).

Ek open ’n nuwe dokument op my rekenaar met die hofie: Openbare vervoer as teater van sosiale protes.

Op 1 Desember word daar wêreldwyd hulde gebring aan die menseregte-aktivis, Rosa Parks. In 1955 is Parks gearresteer nadat sy geweier het om haar sitplek in ’n bus af te staan aan ’n wit persoon, aangesien die wit gedeelte van die bus reeds beset was. Op 5 Desember 1955 is Parks skuldig bevind aan ‘n oortreding van rasseskeidingswetgewing. Menseregteleiers soos Martin Luther King jr en ED Nixon het die Montgomery-busboikot die dag van Parks se verhoor gelei, wat om die beurt aanleiding gegee het tot verskeie hervormings in die VSA.  Die 1987-Pulitzer-pryswenner en digter, Rita Dove, bring só hulde aan Parks:

 

Rosa

 

How she sat there,

the time right inside a place

so wrong it was ready.

 

That trim name with

its dream of a bench

to rest on. Her sensible coat.

 

Doing nothing was the doing:

the clean flame of her gaze

carved by a camera flash.

 

How she stood up

when they bent down to retrieve

her purse. That courtesy.

parks in bus

In Adam Small se bundel, Kitaar my kruis, word ’n Kaapse rasse-insident op ’n bus beskryf. Die gedig Vryheid toon merkwaardige ooreenkomste met Parks se verhaal. Vervolgens enkele gedeeltes uit hierdie lang gedig:

 

die leuen kry gestalte

toe ons die bus na Wynberg haal terug

die middag by die 15de bushalte

ons klim die trap, die bus is agter vol

oorvol

agter waar ons, die bruines sit, mág sit

[…]

deel van die droewe hel van hierdie rit

agt sitplekke is oop voorin die bus

vir blankes net

en ’n swanger vrou moet staan, sy’s bruin, nie wit

[…]

ek vra die kondukteur mag sy maar sit

hy skud sy kop

en wys die vinger na die bord, die welbekende bord:

vir blankes net –

vir nie-blankes word vreugde opgeskort

steeds deur die bord

en ’n vrou ses maande swanger mag nie sit

[…]

sy staan vir ses, vir sewe myl, sy staan

ons almal staan, staan meer as ses en meer as sewe myl,

staan vir ’n hele lewe

en agt sitplekke oop, maar sy moet staan

o God, u hoogste proef is nie die vuur maar die vernedering!

 

Ek skep nog ’n hofie: Sosiale protes. Busse. Dan dwaal my geestesoog na die Groot Verseboek, en JC Steyn se bekende gedig wat berig oor die busramp waarin 23 skoolkinders op 28 Januarie 1970 gesterf het, verskyn voor my.

 

Spooroorwegramp by Henley-on-Klip

 

Henley-on-Klip

stasienaam by Vereeniging:

onwerklike vereniging –

oerengelse samestelling

op Afrikaanse klipbodem.

 

Henley-on-Klip

skoolbus by spooroorweg

in slaggat gestol

(bloed stol op klip)

’n sneltrein snel voort,

dóód-betyds, dóód

 

Henley-on-Klip

Hansie-op-gruis

Helena-aan-gras

23 van gras

drié-en-twintig

wat die wolke en die veld,

die sonlig en die weerlig

nooit weer sal belewe nie,

vir wie mamma nooit meer

’n toebroodtjie sal smeer nie,

wat vir pa nie half vererg

oor nuwe wiskunde sal terg nie.

 

Tussen bleek hande en groen sakdoeke,

honde vol manewales in rooi prenteboeke,

blaaie met aftrek- en deelsomme,

ontlede sinne, aardes, sonne,

en ’n Bybel wat vertel van sonde,

tussen die vlees en die gras

soek ’n seun in bloed en glas…

“Waar’s my sussie, ek dink sy was…”

 

Wie huil so hartverskeurend

as ’n seun by ’n verskeurde

hals oor kop tot tone?

Of is moeders se trane egter,

of die klein weggedroogde trane

van die laaste oomblikke

angs voor die slag

by Henley-on-Klip

trane-op-klip.

 

Ledemate-onder-sakke

hande onder allerhande

bewysstukke vir lykskouings,

aanklagte van heinde,

huldigings van verre

(’n monument vir die held Johan

wat gesterf het om drie maats te red).

 

Langsamerhand verloor

egter trane teen egte klip;

leed raak gou vergeet.

Die nuwe uitwiskunde word gewis

doodgewoon gewoonweg dóód.

 

Joan Hambidge onthou die Henley-on-Klip-busramp se tragiese tweeling, die Westdene-busramp op 27 Maart 1985 soos volg.

 

Westdene

 

Gelukkig is julle

wat slaap

hermeties verseël

’n toe vuis.

 

Nooit sal pyn

se perforasie

(stigmata op

die polse) wys.

 

’n Bus verpas,

’n sinnelose

reis, nie weer.

 

Nimmermeer

die wagwoord

tussen mense

verleer. Nee.

 

Die ontoereikendheid

van ouers vergeef.

Slaap rustig,

slaap soet. Kinders

 

moet gehoor, nie

gevoel word.

 

Ook Andries Bezuidenhout bring hulde aan die slagoffers in ’n gedig op Versindaba. (http://versindaba.co.za/2009/08/04/stillewe-nuwe-gedig/). Ek voeg ’n nuwe hofie by die bestaandes in my dokument: Busrampe. Digkuns as maatskaplike bewussyn.

’n Paar weke gelede wys my geliefde vir my ’n video wat handel oor train surfing. Dit is ’n waaghalsige sport of kunsvorm wat reeds sedert die vyftigerjare gewild is onder die jeug van Suid-Afrika. Werkloosheid, armoede, uitsigloosheid en verveling is van die oorsake (www.youtube.com/watch?v=seBkEutvnQU). Ek skryf verder: Maatskaplike onrus. Treine. Daar is iets poëties en aangrypend aan die doodsveragtende reis na niks. Om bo-op ’n bewegende trein se dak te dans, om te deel in die noodlotskans: óf die lewe, óf die dood. Om te heers oor die werkersklas en die apartheidsgeskiedenis van shunting – en binne ’n splytsekond wég te duik van elektriese kabels. Al die train surfers droom daarvan om beroemde Hollywoord-waaghalse te word. Hoe ironies: die choreografie van die dood bied jou niks behalwe die vlugvoetigheid van oorlewing. My internetsoektog na digkuns oor train surfing lewer nie veel op nie; dit is immers ’n donker en geslote sub-kultuur. Ek vind wel ’n paar lirieke en kletsrym van angry young men, en ’n belowende gedig op ’n aanlyndigblad van die Bokkeveld-kontreidigter, Andy Paulse, wat volgende jaar met die bundel Ôs debuteer.

Van treine gepraat: iewers in 2013 ontvang ek Clinton V du Plessis se bundel, Rangeer in die pos. (Dis tog vreemd wat ’n mens onthou: as jy ’n digbundel geskenk kry, nooi die omslagontwerp jou dadelik binne. My hart het vinniger geklop; ook dat ek Kitaar my kruis se ryk sepia-ontwerp sedert my twaalfde verjaardag iewers in die jeugargief van herinnering gebêre het). Die temas en motiewe rondom treine, stasies en sosiale protes lê kruis en dwars in Rangeer, ’n mooi bundel wat sinvol deurgekomponeer is. Dit is veral die bittersoet herinnering aan apartheid wat tref. Vervolgens strofes 1, 2, 7 en 11-12 uit dié lang gedig.

 

Vrypas

 

Pa, onthou jy ons in die derde klas

(met die harderige banke,

of soms in die oop rywa, bombela)

 

die swart passasiers met

die gevlegte rietmandjies

op die heel boonste laairak

hoe gasvry hulle die tuisgebraaide werfhoender,

bakbrood en koffie uit ’n fles

eerste vir ons aangebied het, my kinderskoeneles

in ubuntu

[…]

Pa, die dood is ’n boemeltrein wat niemand kan verpas nie

 

Here Pa, ons mis jou,

hiér op die toegegroeide sylyne van die lewe.

rangeer prent

Dit is Vrydagaand. In die agtergrond begin die maandelikse motorrenne soos reuse muskiete neul. Dit is betaaldag vir sommige. Betaaldag – en die dobbelsteen word gewerp. Ek trek ’n ou notaboek nader en maak ’n nota: Clinton V du Plessis se nuwe bundel, Aantekeninge teen die skemeruur verskyn volgende jaar. Tussen huishoudelike lysies, berekeninge, aantekeninge en gedigte met deurgehaalde reëls soos dwarslêers skryf ek verder. Ek onderstreep die volgende sin: Of die spreker verwys na taxi’s, busse of treine – openbare vervoergebruik bied ’n kleurryke matrys waarbinne ’n digter se protes versny in persoonlike en openbare ruimtes.

In die veraf stilte hoor ek ’n ambulans. Dit beweeg dringend nader. Dan buig die sirene om die hoek voor die klank atonaal breek en wegsterf.

Bibliografie

Du Plessis, Cinton V. 2013. Rangeer. Cradock: Ama-coloured Sloguns.

Opperman, DJ. 1980. Groot Verseboek. Kaapstad: Tafelberg.

Small, A. 1987. Kitaar my kruis. Pretoria: HAUM-Literêr.

http://www.webpages.uidaho.edu/cae_core/Links/RitaDovePoems.htm

(Besoek 27 November 2015).

http://joanhambidge.blogspot.co.za/2015/03/joan-hambidge-jou-storie-is-nooit-weer.html

(Besoek 27 November 2015).

Louis Esterhuizen. Rita Dove reageer op skietdood van tienerseun

Tuesday, July 23rd, 2013

 

In die VSA heers daar groot ontsteltenis oor die 17-jarige tiener, Trayvon Martin, se moordenaar wat verlede week deur die hof in Florida vrygespreek is. George Zimmerman en Martin was glo in ‘n bakleiery betrokke, waarop die gewapende Zimmerman die ongewapende tiener doodgeskiet het. Die hof se bevinding was dat Zimmerman uit selfverdediging opgetree het.

In ‘n sterk bewoorde reaksie op die New York Times se webblad skryf Charles M. Blow onder andere soos volg: “In a way, the not-guilty verdict in the trial of George Zimmerman for his killing of Trayvon Martin was more powerful than a guilty verdict could ever have been. It was the perfect wrenching coda to a story that illustrates just how utterly and completely our system of justice — both moral and legal — failed Martin and his family […] The system began to fail Martin long before that night. The system failed him when Florida’s self-defense laws were written, allowing an aggressor to claim self-defense in the middle of an altercation — and to use deadly force in that defense — with no culpability for his role in the events that led to that point. The system failed him because of the disproportionate force that he and the neighborhood watchman could legally bring to the altercation — Zimmerman could legally carry a concealed firearm, while Martin, who was only 17, could not. The system failed him when the neighborhood watchman grafted on stereotypes the moment he saw him, ascribing motive and behavior and intent and criminal history to a boy who was just walking home […] The whole system failed Martin. What prevents it from failing my children, or yours? I feel that I must tell my boys that, but I can’t. It’s stuck in my throat. It’s an impossibly heartbreaking conversation to have. So, I sit and watch in silence, and occasionally mouth the word, ‘breathe,’ because I keep forgetting to. “

Maar nie almal sit net stil en kyk nie. Veral nie die voormalige poet laureate, Rita Dove, nie. Sy het naamlik ‘n aangrypende gedig vir Trayvon Martin geskryf wat by The Root gelees kan word. Ook City Lights Booksellers het op ‘n besonderse manier reageer. Hulle het naamlik ‘n uiters toepaslike gedig van Langston Hughes, “Kids Who Die” op hul webblad, Abandon All Despair Ye Who Enter Here, geplaas.

Die betrokke gedigte volg hieronder.

***

Trayvon, Redux

It is difficult/to get the news from poems /yet men die miserably every day/for lack/of  what is found there./Hear me out/for I too am concerned/and every man/who wants to die at peace in his bed/besides.

William Carlos Williams, “Asphodel, that Greeny Flower”

Move along, you dont belong here.
This is what you’re thinking.  Thinking
drives you nuts these days, all that
talk about rights and law abidance when
you can’t even walk your own neighborhood
in peace and quiet, get your black ass gone.
You’re thinking again.  Then what?
Matlock‘s on TV and here you are,
vigilant, weary, exposed to the elements
on a wet winter’s evening in Florida
when all’s not right but no one sees it.
Where are they – the law, the enforcers
blind as a bunch of lazy bats can be,
holsters dangling from coat hooks above their desks
as they jaw the news between donuts?

Hey!  It tastes good, shoving your voice
down a throat thinking only of sweetness.
Go on, choke on that.  Did you say something?
Are you thinking again?  Stop! – and
get your ass gone, your blackness,
that casual little red riding hood
Im just on my way home attitude
as if this street was his to walk on.
Do you do hear me talking to you? Boy.
How dare he smile, jiggling his goodies
in that tiny shiny bag, his black paw crinkling it,
how dare he tinkle their laughter at you.

Here’s a fine basket of riddles:
If a mouth shoots off and no one’s around
to hear it, who can say which came first –
push or shove, bang or whimper?
Which is news fit to write home about? 

© 2013 by Rita Dove

***

Kids Who Die

This is for the kids who die,
Black and white,
For kids will die certainly.
The old and rich will live on awhile,
As always,
Eating blood and gold,
Letting kids die.

Kids will die in the swamps of Mississippi
Organizing sharecroppers
Kids will die in the streets of Chicago
Organizing workers
Kids will die in the orange groves of California
Telling others to get together
Whites and Filipinos,
Negroes and Mexicans,
All kinds of kids will die
Who don’t believe in lies, and bribes, and contentment
And a lousy peace.

Of course, the wise and the learned
Who pen editorials in the papers,
And the gentlemen with Dr. in front of their names
White and black,
Who make surveys and write books
Will live on weaving words to smother the kids who die,
And the sleazy courts,
And the bribe-reaching police,
And the blood-loving generals,
And the money-loving preachers
Will all raise their hands against the kids who die,
Beating them with laws and clubs and bayonets and bullets
To frighten the people—
For the kids who die are like iron in the blood of the people—
And the old and rich don’t want the people
To taste the iron of the kids who die,
Don’t want the people to get wise to their own power,
To believe an Angelo Herndon, or even get together

Listen, kids who die—
Maybe, now, there will be no monument for you
Except in our hearts
Maybe your bodies’ll be lost in a swamp
Or a prison grave, or the potter’s field,
Or the rivers where you’re drowned like Leibknecht
But the day will come—
You are sure yourselves that it is coming—
When the marching feet of the masses
Will raise for you a living monument of love,
And joy, and laughter,
And black hands and white hands clasped as one,
And a song that reaches the sky—
The song of the life triumphant
Through the kids who die.

© Langston Hughes

 

 

Louis Esterhuizen. Amerikaanse swaargewigdigters in bekgeveg oor resensie

Tuesday, December 27th, 2011

 

In die Amerikaanse media het daar ‘n bekgeveg ontstaan tussen Rita Dove, samesteller van The Penguin Anthology of Twentieth-Century American Poetry, en Helen Vendler na laasgenoemde se afwysende resensie van dié omvattende antologie wat in die New York Review verskyn het.  

Helen Vendler

Helen Vendler

Onder die opskrif “Are These the Poems to Remember? open Vendler haar beskouing met die volgende stelling: “Twentieth-century American poetry has been one of the glories of modern literature. The most significant names and texts are known worldwide […] Rita Dove, a recent poet laureate (1993-1995), has decided, in her new anthology of poetry of the past century, to shift the balance, introducing more black poets and giving them significant amounts of space, in some cases more space than is given to better-known authors. These writers are included in some cases for their representative themes rather than their style. Dove is at pains to include angry outbursts as well as artistically ambitious meditations.”

Die res van die resensie sentreer veral rondom Dove se keuse van digters en die gedigte waarmee hulle verteenwoordig word; veral die keuse van Wallace Stevens se gedigte word onder ‘n besonder skerp vergrootglas bekyk. So ook die oorskouende inleiding wat Dove geskryf het.

Rita Dove

Rita Dove

Maar dit is nou veral Dove se reaksie, wat eweneens in die New York Review verskyn het, wat ‘n jeukerigheid in die literêre geledere laat ontstaan. Met ‘n stelling soos “Helen Vendler seems to have allowed outrage to get the better of her, leading to a number of illogical assertions and haphazard conclusions,” vuur Dove haar openingsalvo af en vervolg dan met: “I have no desire to engage a critic in a debate on aesthetic preferences and consequent selection-to each her own-but I cannot let her get away with building her house of cards on falsehoods and innuendo.”

Hierna verdedig sy haar keuse van 175 digters met die volgende stelling: “The Penguin Anthology of Twentieth-Century American Poetry is not meant to be an in-depth scholarly study of pick-your-ism; it is a gathering of poems its editor finds outstanding for a variety of reasons, and by no means all of them in adherence to my own aesthetic taste buds; my intent was to offer many of the best poems bound into books between 1900 and 2000 and to lend a helping hand to those readers wishing to strike out on their own beyond this selection.”

Uiteindelik, na ‘n ellelange reaksie op verskeie punte in die Vendler-resensie, eindig Dove met die volgende stelling as slotparagraaf: “The amount of vitriol in Helen Vendler’s review betrays an agenda beyond aesthetics. As a result, she not only loses her grasp on the facts, but her language, admired in the past for its theoretical elegance, snarls and grouses, sidles and roars as it lurches from example to counterexample, misreading intent again and again. Whether propelled by academic outrage or the wild sorrow of someone who feels betrayed by the world she thought she knew-how sad to witness a formidable intelligence ravished in such a clumsy performance.”

En Helen Vendler se reaksie hierop?

Wel, synde ‘n digter van formaat, kort en bondig soos dit hoort: “I have written the review and I stand by it.”

Doef. Doef-doef. Doef-dip-dwa!

Hieronder volg een van Rita Dove se gedigte.

***

After reading Mickey in the night kitchen for the third time before bed

I’m in the milk and the milk’s in me! … I’m Mickey!

My daughter spreads her legs
to find her vagina:
hairless, this mistaken
bit of nomenclature
is what a stranger cannot touch
without her yelling. She demands
to see mine and momentarily
we’re a lopsided star
among the spilled toys,
my prodigious scallops
exposed to her neat cameo.

And yet the same glazed
tunnel, layered sequences.
She is three; that makes this
innocent. We’re pink!
she shrieks, and bounds off.

Every month she wants
to know where it hurts
and what the wrinkled string means
between my legs. This is good blood
I say, but that’s wrong, too.
How to tell her that it’s what makes us-
black mother, cream child.
That we’re in the pink
and the pink’s in us.

© Rita Dove

 

 

Persoonlike gunstelinge: After reading ‘Mickey in the night kitchen’ for the third time before bed – Rita Dove

Monday, July 20th, 2009

After reading Mickey in
the night kitchen
for the
third time before bed

I’m in the milk and the milk’s in me! … I’m Mickey!

My daughter spreads her legs
to find her vagina:
hairless, this mistaken
bit of nomenclature
is what a stranger cannot touch
without her yelling. She demands
to see mine and momentarily
we’re a lopsided star
among the spilled toys,
my prodigious scallops
exposed to her neat cameo.

And yet the same glazed
tunnel, layered sequences.
She is three; that makes this
innocent. We’re pink!
she shrieks, and bounds off.

Every month she wants
to know where it hurts
and what the wrinkled string means
between my legs. This is good blood
I say, but that’s wrong, too.
How to tell her that it’s what makes us-
black mother, cream child.
That we’re in the pink
and the pink’s in us.

Rita Dove