A Solemn Pleasure

Quotes from A Solemn Pleasure – Melissa Pritchard, taken from BrainPickings.

There are too many good quotes in this piece to know where to begin.

Here is my favourite:

We are in danger, I believe, of becoming accustomed to indifference, of being kept within writing workshops, conferences, and seminars where we write and read to a dwindling, closed circle of admirers.

Nearly resigned to this peripheral fate, we are then tempted to take ourselves too seriously as far as ego recognition goes, in terms of literary prizes, grants, and publications in journals, yet not seriously enough as essential witnesses to our time.flowers and footsteps

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Audio Recordings of Poems

I really love hearing poetry and stories read out loud and I also love to read at open mics. I feel it offers something completely different to the written version and brings it to life. I feel poetry is about life and I would like to try and use my writing to bring it alive a bit more and see how to make it relevant to more people. Feeling a little bit terrified, but also trusting this is the way forward, I have begun to record my poems. The first one is here. I think i need to invest a little time in sound editing, but hopefully this will work as a first attempt. Do let me know if you have any tips or suggestions on how to improve from this first attempt.

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Lucky Dip: Where are designer clothes changing attitudes to poverty?

Tolouse and his similarly dressed crew, who call themselves the Commandos, are wearing outfits that, “kop to tail” (head to toe), cost up to $1,120 each. In South Africa, groups like this are called skhothanes, an adaptation of a Zulu word meaning “to lick” or “to boast.” The day’s occasion is similar to a dance-off, but the broader subculture it is a part of, known as izikhothane, is specific to the “born free” generation—those born at the end of apartheid—living in the townships of South Africa. Born-frees like Tolouse have no direct memory of a time when nonwhites lived in townships like Soweto by force instead of economic stagnation.

As they skhot (boast) about the names of the high-end Italian brands they’re sporting—Arbiter, Rossi Moda, Sfarzo—they never fail to mention the price tag, too. For young men living in a country where economic development hasn’t translated into what’s needed most—jobs for young people—skhothane culture is not just a way to stand out, but a way for young South Africans to move up in a society that offers them few options. While this social mobility may be more perceived than actual, one township local summed up their motivation nicely: “When they do what they do, absolutely no one can do it better. They feel like kings.”

 

Despite this evolution, headlines such as “Why Are Poor South African Teens Buying Expensive Clothes and Destroying Them?” still persist. Such stories follow a simple logic: Removed from the struggle of apartheid, these morally bankrupt and entitled youths ostensibly see no problem wasting the money that not long ago their parents would have barely been able to earn. These headlines imply a more loaded question: Why would anyone in Soweto spend their money on anything but getting out of Soweto?

 

 

Photo by Motheo Modaguru Moeng.

Photo by Motheo Modaguru Moeng.

Greg Potterton, managing director of Instant Grass, a Johannesburg-based agency that specializes in studying pockets of youth culture in Africa, says that in a place like Soweto—which is bordered by freeways and was designed during apartheid to be isolated—Tshepo’s local pride is often a product of circumstance. “When a lot of these kids are growing up, they really don’t have much option or aspirations to go anywhere else because they didn’t know about anything else,” Potterton says. “Then, you get reverse innovation happening: In the absence of luxury, creativity is born. Over time, it’s become a cooler place to be.”

 

From Soweto Style by Rosie J Spinks in Roads and Kingdoms

Messages from the Top of Egypt, 2012

Top of Mount SinaiIn Sinai, the revolution seemed so distant, compared to the permanence of the mountains. As I walk up Mount Sinai, I keep thinking, Moses climbed this same peak. Moses looked out over the same view.

Men sit near the top of the hill, drinking and selling coca cola. There is a mosque and a church balancing carefully on each side of the summit. Neglected tourist stands cluster below. With reports of kidnapping, few tourists are making the journey here.

It seems more than a mere journey. The long bus from Cairo, the climb up the dusty path. In the mountains I travel away from my comforts, away from my distractions, away from the bustle of Cairo which has jostled me for the past eight months, where I have been fighting to make something of myself. The mountains make the media noise, the opposing opinions, the legal disputes, the urgent demands, the political arguments, the twitter updates, the waving flags, everything about the unrest seem so insignificant.

“They are impermanent questions,” say the mountains.

Do not worry about years, do not worry about days.

The mountains say, “Everything continues. Sit, wait, stay.”

The mountains say, “Look. Moses saw this sky.”

So I stop, and for the first time in a long time. I forget news reports and having an opinion. I forget about what I want. Instead, I look out across the mountain tops. Instead, I listen to silence.

Poem: Ribbons of Song

Although, there is the fading moon,
although there are new waves,
there is one man,
who will not watch the sky.
One man who sees the morning
inside his own heart.
Meets the day, travelling.

Fishermen in Alexandria, Egypt

A fisherman shake free hopes,
a boat motor plays a barrel drum,
hours fall into the bay,
one shard of locusts begins to sing.
Soon there are ribbons of them calling,
ribbons and ribbons of song.