Wombwell Rainbow says, “I admire so many poets, so it’s difficult to narrow that down. I’m going to take this space to recommend someone your readers might not have heard of. Her name is Vangile Gantsho, I met her in South Africa a few years ago, she is a phenomenal poet and has also co-founded a new pan-African feminist press called impepho press.” Order red cotton at AfricanBooksCollective.com or firstname.lastname@example.org
The other day, a friend posted a picture of her copy of feeling and ugly on Instagram, with the caption “Companion”. I thought it was uncanny that hours earlier, I had thought about posting a picture of my copy with the exact same caption.
feeling and ugly is the first poetry book I have ever owned. I keep it by my bed, just in case. I don’t know what the emergency will be but I want to be prepared.
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Carla Lever: It’s hard to break into South Africa’s very small publishing industry. You’ve proven that going it alone can be a great solution, by self-publishing your own very successful book of poetry. Can you tell us a little about what that involves?
Vangile Gantsho: My debut poetry collection, Undressing in front of the window (2015), taught me that no one will willingly open doors for you. You have to knock, or break the doors down yourself. And in order to do that, you must always be willing to learn. Self-publishing requires more than just raising funds. You still need a good team. And it’s not an easy process. It’s difficult, expensive work…but fortunately also deeply rewarding!
“I stayed under water for sixty days before I met my mother
in a burning hut on the mountain
She could enter only to fetch me and put me down
Was allowed only to feed me
then return me to the fire”
(red cotton by vangile gantsho)
Sketch of vangile gantsho by Judy Seidman done at a
Feminist Women’s Art Network reading and writing event
organised by the @1in9_Campaign, a South African collective of orgs and individuals motivated by feminist principles & the desire to live in a society where womxn are agents of their own lives.
The Mail & Guardian’s Lethabo Mailula, an LLM candidate and gender activist working at University of Pretoria, wrote a review on danai mupotsa’s feeling & ugly and vangile gantsho’s red cotton ~ African, feminist, poetry collections.
The Mail & Guardian’s Zaza Hlalethwa spoke to
Lethabo Mailula, an LLM candidate and gender activist working at University of Pretoria. Photo by Oupa Nkosi