Flowers of a Broken Smile by Maakomele R Manaka
Whether his pen eulogises the enigmatic Mona Lisa smile of Tahani Salah, the dancing feet of Nomsa Manaka, or the defiant black power cry of Winnie Mandela, there’s no doubt about its sincerity and poetic power.

They are muses whose feminine beauty and talent transport the poet to imaginary and ethereal landscapes of love and longing. To the eye of this reader, this small but smooth collection conjures images of a breathtaking colourful landscape on canvas.

Indeed, his pen depicts pictures the same way an artist's deft brushstrokes paint astounding images. The poet in this anthology is the hopeless romantic who embraces love in all its whimsical and unpredictable characteristics. He is the suitor who wants to love like rain to the Kalahari. But he is also the beau who, like a thirsty garden, is waiting for a waterfall to quench his desires. His language of love uses the metaphor of music.

It is the language of jazz in all its universal and improvisational glory. It is the language of the blues with its genius to capture black pain and unrequited love. But his musical metaphors transcend jazz and the blues or any style - classical or contemporary. 

His verses recall a primordial time when the marimbas and djembes were still novel creations in the soft hands of the African goddess of music, Marimba herself. The Wise Ones of this expansive land say that Marimba’s legendary singing could make mountains shed cold tears.

Flowers of a Broken Smile by Maakomele R Manaka

The lyrical beauty of these verses leaves all sorts of overwhelming emotional feelings with the reader. This collection is essentially a paean to womanhood expressed by a bard with the vocabulary of romance on his fingertips. In a rare moment of our literary times, the feminine persona is accorded the power and the glory bestowed to her by the gods and goddesses in antiquity, only to be robbed of them by the evil spirit of patriarchy. 

The reader is transported on an eventful journey of romantic discovery through life’s desert storms of uncertainty to its rivers of hope.

And if poetry is a great river that runs through all sorts of Mother Africa’s rugged and scenic landscapes to the great oceans of the world, then ink flows in abundance in the veins of this poet.

To paraphrase the bard of bards Don Mattera, if genius is genetic then Mak Manaka is the personification of it. His father, the late Matsemela Manaka, was an artist of many parts whose unusual poetic gifts are evident in his son’s extraordinary verses. Flowers of a Broken Smile is his third anthology.