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Steampunk Coffee and Higgledy Piggledy Words

Steampunk Coffee and Higgledy Piggledy Words

Steampunk Poetry Evenings, by Nikki Brighton

First Wednesday of the month at Steampunk – 5pm!

The battered ground between a petrol station and the railway tracks in Lions River seems an unlikely spot for creativity to flourish. Once a month, as the sun dips behind the hills, mud splattered cars and dusty bakkies arrive – poets, poetry lovers and friends gather to share their words – to read from battered notebooks, mobile phones, laptops or crisp sheets of white paper. Midlands style.

It was Duncan Alexander’s idea,” Michael Goddard, owner of Steampunk Coffee says, “from hesitant beginnings it has become something fantastic.” Duncan is an enthusiastic poet and performer, inspired in turn by professional performance poet Lara Kirsten and other exceptional creatives in our midst. “When we started, we didn’t know what to expect. Now this evening feeds my soul. I go away with so much every time,” muses Duncan.
Duncan pulls a name from his hat and declares the poetry must beginCome one come all, for lights, for nights

There are poems about centre-pivots, reedbuck, steamy February nights, old pies, new beginnings, wet grass and the Midlands hills. Eclectic is the word. Some participants simply make poems up on the spur of the moment, inspired by this unpretentious platform to pull stanzas from the air. Others are hesitant at first, but soon find their voices. Perhaps beginning by reading an old favourite by someone famous before standing up with their own work. Clearly, we are all poets and, for many, poetry is therapy.

The evening, with trains trundling by, epitomises the true spirit of the midlands. A celebration of the abundance around us – generous and inclusive. Whether you are cleverly twisting words, doodling about life, working through challenges or simply celebrating KZN – bring your work along to share. You will be very welcome on the first Wednesday of every month at 5pm. Don’t forget your own cup for delicious coffee, a plate and utensils for supper, and drinks.
Each month, we will publish one of the poems. To begin, Lara Kirsten’s Omring. Translated into English as Surround.

omring *

ek klim die heuwel agter ons huis uit
‘n kille wintersoggend in lidgetton, die midlands van kwazulu-natal
‘n wilde wind terg my ywerige kuite en enkels
met jagende asems kom ek bo
ek kyk uit vir die plaat klippe
waarop ek my gedigte gaan voordra

skielik breek twee rietbokke die stilte
en snel pylend oor die vlaktes
al agter hulle ratse pote slaan
donker koolstof op uit die gebrande gras
met ‘n goeie afstand tussen ons gaan staan hulle stil
en kyk my stip aan
hulle vertrou nie die vrede nie
en deins vlugtig uit my sig

ek vind my verhoog van klippe
en begin my gedigte een na die ander opsê
ek herhaal oor en oor die lyne van my gunsteling vers
hoe dig ‘n mens vanuit die denklose plek
daar waar dit net suiwer, spontane metafoor is
wat roekeloos uit die keelgat lek
en in filigraan lettergrepe
stalaktieties in oorbuise drup

ek voel aan dat iemand na my luister
ek kyk gedurig om my heen
dit is net gras, heuwels en dennebome
tog is ek nie alleen
ek voel die land se bloed, vesels,
kleure, liedere,
tonge en velle
voor my opdoem
daar is stemme in die wind
ek wil glo dat die asems van
my voorvadergeeste
al om my waai
en uitbundig my keelklanke toejuig

*Published in the Sol Plaatje European Union Poetry Anthology Volume VI, 2016


i climb the hill behind our house
a chilly winter’s morning in lidgetton, the midlands of kwazulu-natal
a wild wind teasing my ardent ankles and calves
with chasing breath i reach the top
i search for the slab of stone
whereon i’ll perform my poems

suddenly two reedbuck break the silence
swiftly bolting across the plains
from behind their agile feet black soot
shoots up from the burnt grass
keeping a good distance between us
they halt and fix their eyes on me
they don’t trust the peace
and quickly recoil from my sight

i find my stage of stones
and start reciting my poems one after the other
i keep on repeating the lines of my favourite poem
how does one write from the thoughtless place
there where it is only pure, spontaneous metaphor
recklessly leaking from the throat
and in filigree syllables
drips like stalactites in ears

i can sense someone listening to me
i look around incessantly
only grass, hills and pine trees
i am not alone
i feel the blood of the land, its fibres,
colours, songs,
tongues and skins
rise up before me
there are voices in the wind
i want to believe that the breaths of
my ancestors
are fluttering all around me
exuberantly applauding the sounds of my throat


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