The Love Potion – Poetry Potion.

A love potion is termed as a substance (a brew or one close to alcohol) which when taken causes infatuation or obsession towards the person from whom it was received. In worse cases, a love potion is likened to an aphrodisiac, a substance made with or containing ingredients that intensify or arouse sexual desire.

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The cover image of The Love Potion.

In the first poem in the collection, Hand in Hand, Charl Landsberg to the side of the world where a certain kind of love is abominable. Landsberg is passionate about LGTBQI issues, as stated in his biography. The two people (whose gender isn’t clear) in the poem are involved in a relationship that makes them liable to a haul of slurs, “judging glares”, or even worse, a lynching. The play, drama, movie, dance, or whatever had taken people to the theater, despite not being mentioned by the poet, could be responsible for influencing the views of the majority.

I think that, sometimes, the pleasures art gives aren’t because of its truthfulness or marvelous conveyance of spirit but because of how it justifies the ways of those who find it emotionally satiating. If we try to estimate the time between “we arrived quite early for the show” and “we walked through that crowded theater hall” we can get closer to understanding the fate of the couple in the poem, and the moral stand of the society. The word “quite” is like a halt, an indication of fear, the body’s way of saying no.

Most of the poems that come after Hand In Hand deal with a tormenting inability to move on from being the bearer of feelings.

In Life, Motena Tintswalo writes;

I guess what we have is a love-hate relationship.
Sometimes I wish I could close my eyes and never see you again.

When we think of a love potion, we think of it as “induced blindness” (taken from the phrase love is blind). But here, the act of closing one´s eyes, if it weren´t merely a lingering wish, would mean suicide to one´s own body and hence death to love feelings too. It seems as though love and death go together; that in some instances one has to first die to understand the pains of love. This reminds me of Men Die When They Fall in Love, a poem I wrote a few years ago.

Ravona writes in her poem Love Hurts that:

What knows a bleeding heart
than to love.
All I know is your love made my nose run red and my body dead.

Then there are other poems where love and its pain lead to adaption or the evolution of a new being like in Analgesia by Ashraf Booley:

Pain numbs pain;
razor-blades and minora blades
bandage bleak memories
etched across blood-blotched skin-
where sagacity has gone astray.

Two poems in the collection are concerned with the unannounced “departure” of love and the judgment of its lifespan, as a living thing or “being”.

Menzi Maseko´s On My Own tells of a time when love´s charm outlives the mortality of a people´s beloved. The How Can Love Be Dead? that seems to give birth to the whole poem is directed towards Love itself and the person who asks it. Ameer Shaikh´s poem Can A Poem Ever Die? on the other hand is about a different possibility. Here, “poem” takes the place of “love”. It breathes the air of words and celebrates the scent of ink. But unlike humans, where death is inevitable, the creation of a poem isn´t effective at making this fact of life known from the beginning.

Poems, like love and humans thrive because of different reasons. Some, if not most thrive because of the questions they engender, and not those they answer. One of the questions that come from Ameer´s poem is: What makes a poem special? Special in a way that in wondering about its susceptibility to death the adverb “ever” is used. A poem lives such a beautiful life that one never expects it to die. What is the “death” of a poem anyway? To Ameer, “a poem dies when it loses meaning”. Doesn’t love too?

The poems in the collection fail by being lopsided in their exploration of the effects of love and its charms. I’d expect some merriment in one being crazy over another. Perhaps?

The Love Potion is a print quarterly publication by Poetry Potion.

Love poems, poetry about love. Love for country, lover, friend, family, self, life, nature, freedom, truth…and so much more are things that this edition explores.

Copies of this title and more are available for purchase and delivery worldwide on our online bookshop, and in our points of sale in Kampala, Uganda, and in Kigali, Rwanda.

 

Born A Crime – Trevor Noah.

The Author

Born A Crime is a coming of age story, one by the famous South African comedian Trevor Noah. If you happen follow the world of comedy, then surely, you must know Trevor Noah. The always on the up comedian that rose out of South Africa and is now making audiences world over laugh. Well, aside from comedy he has gone on to take over from Jon Stewart at The Daily Show, a satirical weekly news show in the USA, (Who takes over from Jon Stewart? I mean, seriously, who does!), a position where he has managed to carry on consistently, making America laugh at itself, the politics, culture, society never ending melodrama, an unenviable role.

Personally, I am a huge fan of his, and have followed his shows from when he started out, circa 2009. He is my favorite comedian. I have seen all his stand-up specials and even went to see him live once when by luck he was in a city I was in, Pittsburgh early 2016. (And, of course, he didn’t disappoint!).

He, Trevor, is also an embodiment of what you get when you work really hard at what you love. I mean; the time he came to Pittsburgh, he was touring multiple cities doing comedy shows while also doing the Daily Show each week. And now we see that in this same time-frame, he has written a book. I could go on and on about many things why this book is interesting but let’s dive into the book.

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The cover image of Trevor Noah’s Born A Crime.

The Book

So, it was with premonition that I got to this book wondering what Trevor Noah had in store. Having watched many of his specials, I was wary that this autobiographical account would be a rehash of the same stories he has told again and again on his standup routine. That is: “His Black mom who wanted a ‘white man’, the Swiss Dad who loved chocolate, plus how he was a bag of weed most of the time” Comedians repeat their material a lot so I was wary. However, this was mostly new material. (save for the reference to him being a bag of weed). On the whole, it is a very interesting light read and you will find yourself chuckling if not loudly laughing through much of the book.

Trevor Noah walks us through his life as a kid growing up in apartheid era South Africa. A very troubling time, we learn, but we see him and his crew of hood kids making the best of this world, struggling through it, surviving, thriving. As you would expect from a comedian, the language used is simple, relatable, funny, and engaging enough that you keep wanting to read what next. Trevor does a fine job of telling his story and bringing out the interesting tidbits all through. We see the mischievous little boy. Personally, I saw a bit of my story in this, naughty kid, not that I ever burned down a house (did I?), but most are relatable.

Another good piece of this is one gets to see race, its effects on life, culture through the eyes of a young man/boy growing up in South Africa. Secondly, the idiocy of apartheid and how it destroyed people lives is also visualized. Trevor has his comedic light hearted way of making you see life as he saw it.

Most of the story revolves around Trevor’s story growing up in apartheid South Africa, how he navigated the racially disparate world. At the time, South Africa was split on so many race levels, White, Colored, Indian, Asian, other shades of white, and multiple shades of black. A huge part of the book also involves his hilarious mother. Seriously, I gotta say his mother was pretty badass (read the book, and you will see). She was my hero through out. The mother-son relationship is a humorous, clear one but still typically African parenting example. It is hard to delve into this one without giving spoilers but there is a part where they actually write letters to each other. I mean which parents do this. Trevor gets spanked a lot, big time, like any African kid. Another bit I found interesting were Trevor’s arguments with his mother on many things, Christianity/Jesus being one of them. The mother was a devout Christian, and Trevor was always arguing with her about why Jesus this, and why Jesus that.

The Not So Good

Much as the book reads like a series of stories, titbits picked out of Trevor Noah’s childhood growing up. One can easily start the book in the middle and easily read on. This is good for easy pick up but it also means there is a lack of a coherent story, or theme that builds up but instead it is a collection of stories. Which is okay but not what you would be expecting.

Secondly, since the stories are disjointed, one finds themselves jumping from age nine to age eighteen and then back.

However, the book makes up for this, partly, by offering a short background at the beginning of each chapter. This is helpful firstly because not all of us are familiar with apartheid South Africa and secondly, the stories are an easier to understand with the background.

Thirdly having followed Trevor Noah’s meteoric rise though the world of comedy, it would have been interesting to hear him talk about his trials, struggles and how he navigated the world of comedy. I mean from a chubby “no college”, DJ-ing kid to doing comedy shows all over the world. How did he get there? The trials, tribulations, little successes, big ones, and how he has dealt with the fame. I mean; he has been a pretty huge deal in SA in the last five years, and now he is doing quite well in the modern day Roman Empire (America). What did it take? How does he navigate that? I guess we will have to wait for another book for that. Bummer! but this one is worth its weight in gold.

In Sum

All in all, Born A Crime is an interesting read one can easily pick up. It is very engaging. Once you start, you will keep wanting to hear the next bit in Trevor’s adventures and/or misadventures. He is part Artful Dodger, part Huckleberry Finn, and so much more. His growing up story is unique and interesting. The book content and language is light, humorous, clear so any one can easily pick it up, from an experienced reader to a novice. I found myself finishing this one in the space of two, 6 hours bus rides, both between Kigali, Rwanda and Mbarara, Uganda. I would definitely recommend it to any reader and would gladly read it again myself. Possibly in the near future.

This review is written by Timothy Kaboya. It first appeared on his blog, before it was modified for publication as review on Turn The Page Africa. Copies of the title are currently available for delivery, upon request.

Born A Crime was published, by Spiegel & Grau, in 2016.

 

The Story Of Maha, And Maha Ever After – Sumayya Lee.

These may be the best books I have read in a long time. If you are wondering why they are being reviewed together, it is because they are, to say, similar, and have the same characters. The second book is simply a continuation of the first, giving closure for all the questions you may have after reading the first. I think they should be mandatory reading for every girl.

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The cover image of The Story Of Maha.

The Story of Maha introduces us to Maha, starting with her dramatic birth, reading like something out of a movie. The rest of the story is anything but idealistic, but rather real and relatable. The story is set in apartheid South Africa, and reads like a combination of well paragraphed diary entries. Maha’s father is a coloured while her mother is an Indian from suburbia Durban. Following the tragic death of her parents, the grandparents take her to the Maal Mahal where she finds a new often delightful, but also much more restrictive home. Reading the story, you get to experience Maha’s joys from good friendships and the thrill of learning, her frustrations when she is prevented from going further in school to find a Suitable Boy and make a good wife. It often feels like you are enjoying her cooking, as uncertain about the future as she is, and experiencing the highs and lows of adolescence.

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The cover image of Maha Ever After.

In Maha Ever After, you will share in Maha’s new life at her husband’s home which is eerily similar to the Maal Mahal, so that her marriage is a different kind of bondage. The books are a love story, but not the usual boy meets girl. Rather, they are a lesson in self-love and self-discovery. Maha loves herself so much that you cannot help but love her, and love yourself too.

Sumayya Lee, the author, of both, uses a delightful combination of English, Gujarati, and Xhosa, making little attempt to translate the words but rather letting you deduce the meaning from context instead of breaking the narrative to loop you in. After the first few chapters, words like roti, siyabonga will start to make perfect sense. The books are also full of colourful cursing, especially by female characters which is a refreshing change from the prim and proper heroines in front of whom such words are not supposed to be used. The author skilfully highlights serious issues of apartheid, racism, and sexism without moving away from what appears to be the privileged life of Maha.

I loved both books for their simple alluring style, and the characters Maha loved, I loved as fiercely. These were books worth every (sometimes new) word and I would recommend them highly.

The Story Of Maha, and Maha Ever After are both written by Sumayya Lee. They were pubished in 2007, and 2009, respectively, by Kwela Books. They reviewed for Turn The Page by Ophelia Kemigisha.

 

#TTPBookMeet Continues In March With Othuke’s Odufa.

Greetings.

Turn The Page Africa extends an invitation to you, and your friends, to the next #TTPBookMeet, which will take place on Friday, March 10, 2017, in Hive Colab, Kanjokya House, Kanjokya Street, Kampala, Uganda, starting from 17:30.

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We will be having a retrospective conversation about Othuke Ominiabohs’s Odufa: A Lover’s Tale, our common text for the month of March, 2017.

Odufa A Lover's Tale

Ominiabohs, in his debut novel, graphically chronicles the entire the entire gamut of emotional experiences of a tumultuous affair of young lovers. Laying bare each nerve strand in its raw sensitiveness, and cutting open each delicate naked vein bleeding with life, Ominiabohs unfolds with startling, and moving candour, the joy and pains, hopes and longings, sorrow and despair of a fragile love which, against a sea of overwhelming odds, fights for its survival and salvation.

Ominiabohs visited Kampala, Uganda, when his East African tour brought him to these parts of the world. While here, he held a reading, and signing at the Alliance Francaise de Kampala, both events held in proud association with Turn The Page.

Turn The Page has previously reviewed this very title, for the benefit of illustrating, briefly, its concerns of interest. The review, penned by Lynn Turyatemba, can be read here.

Copies of Odufa are available, for purchase, on Turn The Page’s online bookshop, which is currently accessible via books.alextwino.com.

We will be delighted to share your, and your friend’s, ever wonderful company.