If I Stay Right Here by MACW graduate Chwayita Ngamlana


What is Sex? Sex is a humid climate. What is Desire? Desire is snow. What is Loneliness? Loneliness is a badger trying to figure out why it looks different to an otter. What is Obsession?Obsession is trying to fix a broken chair without realising that the chair is just bent at the knees and that’s how it was born. What is a Dyke? A dyke is an intricate, indecipherable encryption.

In her electric debut book, MACW graduate Chwayita Ngamlana explores the above questions through her characters as they struggle through the volatility of love, the danger of not knowing themselves and

discovering their voice in the world.

The story follows the characters, Shay and Sip, who are very different in class, style, character and education. Shay is a journalism student working part time as an intern on a site that has no clear sense of direction. Sip is an unemployed varsity drop out and ex-gang member.

Their vastly different lives make it challenging for them to be the kind of couple they so desperately want to be. Unable to get themselves untangled from the web they’ve created, Shay and Sip use money, other people and sex to fix things, but is this enough?

Ngamlama has created a world that is somewhere between the present day and a sub-world of delusion. The reader will want to watch both story and characters unravel. This book will touch anyone who has lost themselves or their loved ones to unhealthy, destructive relationships.

Chwayita Ngamlana was born and raised in Grahamstown. She is an only child who found comfort and companionship in reading and writing from the age of 10. She has a degree in music. If I Stay Right Here was written as psart of her MA in Creative Writing at Rhodes university.

Last Modified: Tue, 05 Sep 2017 11:14:45 SAST

Thabiso Mofokeng publishes The Last Stop



Set in the taxi industry, the story’s main characters are a poor taxi driver, a wealthy taxi owner and the taxi driver’s girlfriend.

Crime fiction featuring paranormal elements, The Last Stop combines gritty realism with the magical.

It shows what happens between people in times of taxi violence and deals with themes of lust, betrayal and revenge.

The Last Stop is an engaging, clever, interesting and darkly enjoyable read with an incredible plot twist at the end.

Thabiso Mofokeng was born in the Free State. He appears in various anthologies and journals in Sesotho and English. He completed his master’s in Creative Writing with distinctions at Rhodes University in 2015 and he has a PhD in English from the University of the Western Cape.

He has facilitated various workshops in poetry and prose, he is currently the chairperson of Metjodi Writers and he is the founder of Thabiso Mofokeng Writing Foundation. His magic realism novel is shortlisted for the Dinaane Debut Fiction Award 2016.

His poetry appeared in the Sol Plaatje European Union Poetry Award in 2013, 2015 and 2016. Some of his books are prescribed by the South African Department of Education for grade 8 and grade 10.

Book details

Last Modified: Tue, 05 Sep 2017 11:07:56 SAST

Mishka Hoosen launches Call it a Difficult Night


MACW graduated Mishka Hoosen launched her debut novel, Call it a Difficult Night, published by Deep South in 2016.

Call it a Difficult Night is a story about madness. Using anecdotes, poems, dialogue, and fragments of historical research, it follows a nonlinear path in tracing the life of its young narrator/protagonist.

Institutionalised after a “final break”, a young woman remembers in sharp detail her disturbing childhood visions, which have become overwhelming by the time she is at a boarding school in the US and later at university in South Africa. When she finally gets a diagnosis – temporal lobe epilepsy – a doctor explains that she is likely to be either demented or brain dead by the time she’s 30.

Set mainly during the short spell in the mental hospital, the story proceeds through encounters with nurses, doctors, other patients, and also the friends who visit her – many of them frightened by her state of mind. These encounters, painful but quite often funny, takes us deeper into the feelings of the young woman and further into the workings the mental health system which generates the definitions of madness. She is defiant in her noncompliance and deeply suspicious of her treatment. She is sure that her hallucinations, dangerous and terrifying as they are, are preferable to the dulling effects of her medication and its theft of her creativity.

Mishka Hoosen was born in Johannesburg. She was given a scholarship to finish high school at Interlochen Arts Academy in the northern Michigan woods, USA. She went on to complete an MA in Creative Writing at Rhodes University. She is currently studying anthropology, conducting fieldwork investigating experiences surrounding gender, violence, trauma, sexuality, and artistic expression. Her first full-length book, Call it a Difficult Night, was published by Deep South Books in October 2015.

Last Modified: Tue, 05 Sep 2017 11:02:12 SAST

Vonani Bila launches Bilakhulu!

Vonani Bila, Bilakhulu!, was published by Deep South Publishing in 2015.

Vonani Bila’s voice in Bilakhulu! is as buoyant and direct as ever; his emotional range is broad, incorporating humour and lament.

These seven narrative poems, ranging from three to 35 pages in length, are grounded in the poet’s family and village, but at the same time making visible the wider forces that impinge on rural life. They are engaging and politically outspoken yet personal, and filled with vitality and humour.

Vonani Bila was born in 1972 in Shirley village, Limpopo, where he still lives. He is the author of five books of poems in English and eight storybooks for newly literate adult readers in Sepedi, Xitsonga and English. He is a driving force in South African poetry – founding editor of the Timbila poetry journal, publisher of Timbila Books and founder of Timbila Writers’ Village, a rural retreat centre for writers.

Married with three children, Bila teaches in the Department of English Studies at the University of Limpopo, and in the MA in Creative Writing at Rhodes University. He was the first black editor of literary journal New Coin.

Bila writes for everyone: “I believe in poetry’s ability to cut across frontiers. It transmits its poison or honey to readers or potential readers in aeroplanes, airconditioned university lecture rooms, mansions, hotel en suites and to their children who roam around our colossal shopping malls. Poetry’s readers may also be found in barbershops, spaza shops, or village schools somewhere in Limpopo, or under trees, in hair and beauty salons, in taxis and bus stations, taverns, churches, stokvels, threadbare soccer fields, or jazz pubs.”

An excerpt from “Autobiography”, courtesy of Deep South Publishers:

I was born in 1972
Where Mudzwiriti River swelled over roads and boulders
But nothing green grew in Gazankulu Bantustan
Even plants and trees and shrubs
Even the animals and birds and reptiles
Even the mountains and lakes and streams
Felt the pain of apartheid war
I still live here in the backwoods
With the common people
Warming ourselves around bonfires

I’ve slept in grand sky-scraping hotels
And villas of the world’s jaw-dropping cities –
My name is inscribed in books, postcards, newspapers, zines and films
But I’ve never been active on Facebook or Twitter
When I finally sleep
I want to be folded neatly
Planted into a family cemetery
Head facing east
Please my children, don’t pile up goods on the grave
The rain will wash my memory away
The sun will dry them and wild fire will burn me to ashes
Please my children, don’t be foolish and chop the trees
I planted with passion
They’re your future oxygen, bread and soup

Though I possess no clattering wheel
Or a bike spoke and chain
I’ve lived like a swallow –
Weaving nests across the mountains and oceans
I’ve ridden in rickshas, buses, trains, planes and dilapidated taxis
In boats, motorbikes and donkey carts
I’ve been chauffeured in bombastic cars
To attend meetings with ministers,
Social movements, artists, culture gurus, donors, NGOs and professors
The woman at the Polokwane Airport check-in counter
Feels pity for my wife in the village as I fly out to cities on Fridays

I grew up in a mud hut
Drank water from the wells
Slept on the itchy majekejeke mat on a cowdung-smeared floor
At 10, I was still wetting myself in the night
The millipede powder couldn’t stop the habit either
I showered from a plastic basin
Often used a water-filled mug to wipe my face
And extinguished the rotten rat wreaking havoc in my armpits
But I’ve also lived in an apartment with portraits
And tidy rooms for visitors
And yes, I’ve also lived in an apartment with racing roaches
And wet laundry

I grew up using a long-drop toilet
Newspaper, mugabagaba and guava tree leaves wiping my backside
Others used stones and bare hands to clean themselves in the bush
Later I enjoyed steam baths and massage in spas
Sat in armchairs, rode a horse and walked on red carpets
One day I may receive a Nobel Prize for Literature
Like Neruda, Brodsky and Szymborska

* * * * *

from “Ancestral Wealth”

If you were alive today, madala –
You would tell me about that rope
That roamed in your nightmares
The rope that made you so impatient
That made you hate everything about your wife
The rope that made you hit her
And want to kill her with a knife
The rope of which prophet Muvhangeli said:
U nga yi rhwaleli loko u yi vona endleleni ya wena
(Don’t pick it up when you find it placed on your path)
The tough rope of wicked relatives
Who had long sized your neck

If you were alive today, madala –
You would tell me how you and Ngholeni picked up that dead rabbit
Early in the morning on your way to work
How you skinned the rabbit with delight
How you wanted to cook it for lunch
When suddenly a strange man came
And touched your forehead
And said, “and hi yena papantsongo wa Frank.”
Then your forehead ached and pounded
And when you came back home from work
The same strange man
Hobbled to your house
All he said was one sentence:
I needed to find Frank’s brother’s place
Then he vanished
Stealing your heart
Placing it in a cave
Planting a cockerel’s heart in you
And you coughed and coughed


Papa, I know it took us twenty years to erect your tombstone
All along the wind was blowing you away
The sun was burning you
Your pillow was your hand
But now Bila, Mhlahlandlela, rest in peace
Do not open the grave and come home wearing shorts
Since you left, your wife has remained in the house
I’ve not seen a man sitting on your chair
It’s still your house
Full of trees and vegetables

7/8 u ya lithanda isaka la mazambani
U ya lithanda isaka la mazambani

Last Modified: Tue, 05 Sep 2017 10:52:34 SAST

MACW graduate Songeziwe Mahlangu wins 2014 Etisalat Prize



Songeziwe Mahlangu was born in the town of Alice, in the Eastern Cape, South Africa. Songeziwe Mahlangu was born in Alice in 1985. He matriculated from Dale College, in King William’s Town, and went on to do a business science degree at the University of Cape Town.

He returned to university to do a Masters degree in Creative Writing at Rhodes, Grahamstown, in 2011. Penumbra is the end result of that degree and his first novel. The manuscript, caught the eye Kwela Books publisher, James Woodhouse, who immediately signed him.

“Simple and beautiful,” is how Woodhouse describes Penumbra. “We read about 500 manuscripts a year and sometimes you are lucky enough to come across something that truly hooks you,” the publisher said.

Penumbra tells the story of Mangaliso Zolo, a hapless recent graduate who still lives near his old university in the southern suburbs of Cape Town. The book documents his daily struggles with mental illness and the conflicting influences of his friends affiliated with drugs and those embracing charismatic Christianity.

“Mahlangu’s voice is unlike any we’ve heard in the country. This debut novel dissects young, urban slackers in South Africa with startling precision,” said Woodhouse. He compares Penumbra to K. Sello Duiker whose award-winning The Quiet Violence of Dreams deals with similar subject matter.

The book won  the 2014 Etisalat Prize for African Literature.

Last Modified: Tue, 05 Sep 2017 10:39:45 SAST