vangile gantsho’s riot

red cotton is a poetic canvas made out of a collection of experiences that define the lives of black women trying to survive what activist Wanelisa Xaba calls “post apartheid – apartheid” or the angst of being free only in words. Very little has changed in South Africa and it is black women who often bear the brunt.

A girl, a large plate,
Seven children each with spoons
Only she is left hungry.


Wombwell Rainbow compliments red cotton

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 or

Books Live ~ Interviewing Vangile Gantsho

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!

Read more…

Judy Seidman did a sketch of vangile gantsho

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.

Judy Seidman, sketch, poetry, red cotton, performance art, vangi gantsho