Monday, 5 September 2016

The Schools’ Programme 2016

As has become tradition now, the first item on the weekend of poetry is a programme for schools.
This year we decided to kick off the programme on Thursday with the McGregor Waldorf  Primary School. David Magner went down to the school and read poetry to the group of children. The children enjoyed classics like Jabberwock, The Owl and the Pussycat and The Highwayman. It was a most successful session.

Friday the 28th was the big day.We welcomed over 700 children from local schools, including Farm Schools within a 20 kilometre radius of McGregor. The children range in age from Reception Year to Grade 7, with a few Grade 8 pupils from McGregor Primary. The event this year was generously sponsored by Graham Beck Wines- a huge thank you to them! The buses rolled in soon after nine o’clock, and the children gathered outside the NGK Hall to be welcomed. They then split up into various groups to attend different sessions.

Reception Unit and Grades 1 and 2 headed into the church to enjoy a Puppet Show. The grade 3 children went to the Breede Centre where Katleen and Gwyn read them stories which Gwyn has specially written for children- including a new story written just for the day, and set in McGregor!The Grade 4 and 5 children headed off to the local library where librarian Soretha and a group of volunteers including locals Ilana, Marinda and Corle read them poetry. The grade 6, 7 and 8 pupils were treated to a show called “Ons Ko Vandaan”, presented by a Drama Group from Wellington.

To wrap up the morning, everyone assembled in the NGK McGregor for the final show. Our local Dance Stars- The Next Step Dance Company and First Step Ballet, McGregor- put on an exhilarating performance of Poetry and Dance that had the delighted audience smiling, singing and dancing. The children were provided with a small snack to finish off the morning, and they left a very happy group.
A very big vote of thanks to all the volunteers who gave so willingly of their time to assist with this programme. I could not have done it without you! And another thanks to Graham Beck for their assistance. You are just great!
This programme is, I believe, one of the most important aspects of the Poetry in McGregor Weekend. We are giving these children, who come in the main from seriously underprivileged backgrounds plagued by social problems, an opportunity to look past all of that and see that there is an opportunity to fly in this world. We want them to see the potential, and not be afraid to grasp it. And who knows? There just might be an Antjie Krog, an Ingrid Jonker, an Adam Small or James Matthews amongst them, just waiting for the chance to unfurl his or her Poetic Wings!

David Magner
Programme Co-ordinator

You can see all the pictures of this event at the following link

Tuesday, 30 August 2016

2016 Poetry Competition winners

The second edition of our Poetry Competition was again a highlight for us. Over 300 entries were received, the majority in the adult section. It was good to see that in the schools’ section that there were clearly a few schools which had picked up on the event and encouraged their pupils to take part. It was also pleasing to see that we received a small number of isiXhosa poems this year.

The judging process was wonderful for all involved, and it remains a highlight of the year for Billy and me. After sifting through the entries over many sessions, we were unanimous in our feelings on the School section winner. Dennis Buckland was a runaway winner with his poem Anthropomorphic. We were delighted that Dennis was at the Prize Winning, where he read his poem so eloquently.

Anthropomorphic, Dennis Buckland

I am anthropomorphic.
My disguise is human,
I inherited the suit that
The abstract dresses in,
Tailored by intellectuals,
And stitched by mothers
Patched piece by piece
By bygone civilizations.
I would weave a thread
Of my own, but it chafes,
It was made for the dead.
So at night, I strip bare
And feel the animal
Breathing down my spine,
And picking my lice
With awkward intimacy.

In the Adult section the choice was not as easy. We finally settled on our short list and sent it to our external adviser, a published poet of considerable stature. She sent her recommendations, and we were all in agreement. The winning poem was Hung Gun, by Georgia Gundersen. Georgia was on hand to receive her trophy and cheque from the sponsor of the event, Leila Witkin.

Hung Gun
, G Gundersen

On the wall there is a rifle
Over the mantle lean as a rapier.
There where flames split and flare, its
Barrel grey as slate; smooth as surface
Water, and to its form is clad that sense of
Its possessor. A craftsman’s piece of
Deadeye marksmanship; the
Weapon of a dry and dilatory man.
And the sling hangs sparely.
What has the one-eyed thing
Dropped in its sights to lie
Limply on a litter of grass?

A hare as long and prescient as the
Gun, the wind making eddies down to the
White of its taupe black-ticked fur. The
Lean woodsman turns towards home
Where the hare is laid out, and
The unerring line of rifle returned
To its backdrop of whitewash.

Special thanks to Leila for her generous sponsorship of this event. Without you we just could not do it! A huge thanks to all those who entered. As Leila said on Saturday morning, you are all winners! To Billy Kennedy, and Hester Van der Walt who help with the initial judging, a huge thank you for your wisdom and commitment. Thanks also to Patch for her help- you are a star!

David Magner

Thursday, 25 August 2016

Coming soon... Rustum Kozain

We are dekighted to welcome Rustum back to our village. A child of the Winelands, he grew up in Paarl, before studying English. Aftre travelling to the USA as a Fullbright Scholar, he returned to lecture at UCT. He has won the Ingrid Jonker and Olive Schreiner Prizes for Poetry, and insists that writing poetry is a sincere, necessary matter and no casual affair. His honesty, perceptiveness and clarity, allied to his skilful use of language make for exhilarating reading.
We are looking forward to hearing his words once again!

for S. Ben-Tov

Afternoon sun of Ohio’s August
daubs the classroom with early rust.

Eight of us bristle, apprenticed
to nail the world to its sentence.

Poet’s poet, our teacher hands us
a copy each of Heaney’s ‘Nerthus’.

A chill creeps in me as she reads.
From Heaney-soil, that concrete dark,

an unseen ash-fork staked in bog:
my first portents of winter north.


We have all heard the name
but not Heaney’s Great Chain of Verbs.

We stall. And do not fathom
the quiet mesh of kesh and loaning

that lull and push of middle-voice
that verb say

the long-grained never static
of the poem’s non-finite aesthetic

© 2005, Rustum Kozain
From: This Carting Life

Wednesday, 24 August 2016

"Poetry in McGregor" this weekend 26 to 28 August 2016.

A very important part of our event is our School Programme. This will take place on Thursday and Friday morning and over 650 children are involved. Dave Magner is the organiser of this event and he is to be congratulated for putting together another fabulous programme this year. Children from both our local and farm schools have been invited to attend and transport by bus arranged for those schools beyond walking distance. A large number of volunteers from McGregor will be facilitating these sessions. Our grateful thanks to all of them too.

For your interest, here is the programme.

Thursday 25th at various times throughout the morning, Dave will read poetry to the children attending the Waldorf School. This is our English programme and will take place at the Waldorf School itself.

Friday 26th - die Afrikaans se program:
  • 09h30 - Graad 1 en 2 – Poppekas vertoning by die NGK - 45 minute
  • 09h30- Graad 3 Storie tyd, by die Breede Sentrum -1 uur
  • 09h30 - Graad 4 en 5 - Gedigte voorlesing by die McGregor Biblioteek - 1 uur
  • 10h30 - Graad 6, 7 en 8 - Ons Ko Vandaan. Vertoning by die NGK - 45 minute
  • 11h30 - Almal by die NGK. Vertoning deur Next Step Dance Company - 25 minute

Our thanks and appreciation to the Graham Beck Trust who have provided the sponsorship for this event. This has enabled us to hire the necessary transport and provide snacks for the children to enjoy afterwards.

Coming soon... Frank Malaba

Poetry in McGregor is delighted to welcome Frank Malaba to our village this year. A native of Zimbabwe, Frank has been a vocal advocate for Gay Rights in Africa. He was formerly a producer of Radio Today Outspoken, the only LGBTI Talk show in Africa. Frank is a courageous voice, and is admirably suited to our theme for 2016, Voices on Fire. We hope his voice will be widely heard this coming weekend!

My heart rains in smithereens like red confetti falling
From the crown of cumulonimbus heights.
Its shredded pieces fall in dizzy circles while
Trying to find the perfect landing on uneven ground.
My eyes are ajar like shutters to a vacant, soulless castle.
I’m not dead. I’m not alive. I’m existing.
A solid presence in an otherwise empty space.
But do not be fooled…
I am powerful.
Somewhere deep within this thick dark mass
Is a volcano ticking and awaiting
The perfect moment to exhale new lava.
Waiting to create continents of thought
Populated by change and reason.
I am a heart still beating after it has been cut out from the living.
I am the African Violet leaf that lives on

After being ripped from the mother plant.
I am the singing voice of an orphaned child.

Tuesday, 23 August 2016

Event #92 – Poetry Supper @ Flora’s

Due to the popularity of the Poetry Supper on Sunday night we have had to make some last minute changes. Flora is unfortunately not able to accommodate the large number of people wishing to attend this supper, so we have moved it to The Food Tent in Temenos Garden. Delicious homemade soups, rolls and bread will be served as well as complimentary wine and grape-juice (you are welcome to bring your own bottle if you so wish) – a donation of R50.00 per person will help to cover costs. (Participating poets and volunteers are welcome as our guests, but please don’t forget your name-tags!) We look forward to seeing you anytime from 6pm for a relaxed evening together. For catering purposes, please contact Jenny ( / 084 675 1164) to add your name to the list.