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Poetry book questions patriarchy and other challenges women face

Natalia Molebatsi with a copy of the book, Wild Imperfections: A Womanist Anthology of Poems. Picture: Jacques Naude/African News Agency (ANA)

Natalia Molebatsi with a copy of the book, Wild Imperfections: A Womanist Anthology of Poems. Picture: Jacques Naude/African News Agency (ANA)

Published Sep 30, 2021



Pretoria - At least 40 women from all over Africa and abroad have collaborated on a poetry book called Wild Imperfections: A Womanist Anthology of Poems.

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The book seeks to question patriarchy and the other challenges women face.

Featuring the work of black women poets from Botswana to Brazil, the book will be launched on October 5 at Exclusive Books in Brooklyn, Pretoria.

It opens with poems honouring diverse generations of women like Sarah Baartman and Rosa Parks – women born at different times, yet all of whom are cultural and political mirrors to black girls and women.

The poems speak about birth and death, fertility and infertility, rape and genital mutilation, war, exile and forced migration – but they also revel in joy, desire and the expression of sexuality.

Bernadine Evaristo, the British woman who wrote the foreword, says the multi-generational, cross-cultural anthology is infused with multiple perspectives, aesthetics, preoccupations and sensibilities.

“It offers up a broad sense of community between black women writers who are consciously interrogating what it means to be human from our unique perspectives,” she said.

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Unisa librarian and poet Natalia Molebatsi, who edited the anthology, said it was for “the nuns, the singers, the clowns, the diviners and the conjurers” who rejected the constant attempt to clean up history.

Molebatsi said that some of the poems that stood out for her in the collection were Death at Dusk for Young End Sars Protestors by Ijeoma Umebinyuo from Nigeria and Call by Ana Maurine Lara from the Dominican Republic.

“The first poem is written as resistance against forgetting.

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“It tells us how young people organised the #EndSars protests in Nigeria. It will remind us of the brutality that the police unleash on their own people, everywhere.

“The second one is a call to all our ancestors. It reminds us of the joy, sorrow, survival, death, triumph and so much more that our ancestors held. These are the things we should always remember. It is a poem that reminds us that we inherited the beauty, the love and the strength of our ancestors.”

Contributors include poets such as Nikki Giovanni, Diana Ferrus, Miriam Alves, Jackie Kay, NourbeSe Philip, Cheryl Clarke, Lebogang Mashile, Staceyann Chin, Olumide Popoola, Makhosazana Xaba, Koleka Putuma, Safia Elhillo, Gabeba Baderoon, Warsan Shire, Ladan Osman, Anni Domingo, Elizandra Souza and Jumoke Verissimo.

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“If this collection teaches anything, it is that love is always messy, that our sacrament requires wet wipes, and that we are just flesh and bone honing practice,” Molebatsi said.

The launch, she said, would be at 6pm and would feature a conversation with South African celebrity Phemelo Motene.

Pretoria News