Spier Dansende Digtersfees. Yvette Christiansë (1954)

Yvette Christianse

Yvette Christiansë

“I do not want to be like a small animal bitten by a snake, going stiff with that poison. I want to bite back.”

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Nog ‘n digter wat aan die Spier Dansende Digtersfees op 7 Mei 2016 gaan deelneem, is Yvette Christiansë, ‘n Suid-Afrikaansgebore digter en skrywer wat tans aan die Barnard College in New York verbonde is. Sy is op Hondseboek (Johannesburg) gebore, maar op agtienjarige ouderdom verlaat sy Suid-Afrika saam met haar moeder en suster. Na ‘n kort verblyf in Mbabane het hulle in 1973 na Australië verhuis. In 1988 behaal sy haar PhD in Engels aan die Universiteit van Sidney.

Volgens Liesl Jobson se inskrywing op Poetry International Web ontgin Christiansë se werk  “the rich themes of the country’s history – slavery and apartheid, exile and displacement.” Van haar vroeë werk het in die versamelbundel Faultlines: Three Poets (Round Table Press), in 1991 verskyn. “It was here that the fractured territory that her later poetry would fully inhabit was first glimpsed. Appearing in embryonic form are her trademarks: the counterpoint of betrayal, brutality and resilience as the splintered psyche endeavours to make sense of the void.” Aldus Jobson.

Haar debuutbundel, Castaway (Duke, 1999), is ‘n epiese narratief wat uitsluitlik fokus op die eiland St. Helena, wat in die 18de en 19de eeue ‘n belangrike rol in slawehandel gespeel het. Dié debuut was genomineer vir die PEN International-prys in 2001. Eweneens was haar debuutroman, Unconfessed (Other Press, 2007), ‘n finalis vir die Hemingway/PEN-prys vir fiksie van daardie jaar. Haar mees onlangse digbundel is Imprendehora (Kwela Books/Snail Press, 2009).

Volgens Christiansë verwys die titel van dié digbundel na die wanvoorstelling van die Spaanse emprendedora. “The misspelling occurs originally in Admiralty Fleet records after the ship was captured running slaves illegally and delivered to St Helena where the ship’s human cargo was ‘liberated’. Who could resist this undoing of the entire Enterprise that Columbus began?”

Vir jou leesplesier volg een van haar gedigte hieronder.

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SISTER THOMAS ON THE PRACTICE OF DISTANCE

. . . a native . . . a glorious example of the converting grace of
God. To hear the word of Life this native would travel over
every part of the island . . . fearing she might lose a single
gospel sermon. She was a woman of no ordinary mind.

Rev. Edwin F. Hatfield, St. Helena and the Cape of Good Hope: Incidents in the Missionary Life of the Rev. James McGregor Bertram of St. Helena, 1852

Shoes on my feet, I am climbing,
once again the girl born on an island,
climbing like a prayer
singing, Lordlord-lordlordlord

I am a simple woman given to simple speech
and there is no one plainer tho I burn
bright – a newborn star – when I am
singing, Lordlord-lordlordlord
as the sun hits the backs of my eyes
where letters burn black.

In the wind – the names of cities:
Paris, London, haunting our young.
Burn the ships! Put up the jetties! Fold them
like linens for which there is no more use
and the ocean will wash, wash,
wash away those punishing dreams
and where there is noise there will be silence.

Sun in my eyes, shoes on my feet,
girls born on this island
climb mountains of prayer
singing, Lordlord-lordlordlord
for they know they are at anchor.

© 2009, Yvette Christiansë
Uit: Imprendehora (Kwela Books & Snailpress)

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