Julia Norrish is passionate about the power of reading to open the mind and heart. She understands poetry to be a tool to investigate and bring clarity to our individual and collective lived experiences: to send our call into the world and see what responds. She believes strongly in equality, curiosity and the pure potential of all children. When she isn’t writing, reading or painting, she works to increase ownership of beautiful, relevant picturebooks for all children through her work at local social impact publisher, Book Dash.

I never knew I would love


the dampness of the ground

blooming its brown

soft and kind

I never knew I would want to dig a hole and bathe

in this soil, breathing it deep into my skin the way

I never knew I would want to breathe you in —

your damp perfume — I never knew I would love

a woman the way I love my kin, only deeper

the way I love to swim, but with more


I never knew I would love the bullrush

and the millipede, and the connections between

all of us: Thrust together on this plane

to make a life of joy and of

pain and I never knew I would love

the shadows with such

gravity, each figure doubled,


I never knew I would love my body:

A grail of molecules transcended

from any number of previous lives, re-built

as bones and blades,

mouth, mind and waist and

armed with the movement and language to discover more of

a world I never knew I could love.


Gillian Rennie won a Magdala Award in the 2020 Poetry in McGregor Competition. She teaches Writing and Editing in the School of Journalism and Media Studies at Rhodes University and is working towards a Creative Writing PhD at UWC with a project in creative nonfiction.

Memo to the Eastern Cape: Regarding your assets


1: Bird

Definition of spectacular

or maybe of joy

possibly even God:

Red-chested sunbird

on grey morning

in purple agapanthus

2: Jacaranda

Housekeeping swept the sky in the night

Then tipped soft droppings so

My street is a deep-pile carpet and

Bees dig now into indigo plush

Dreading the first tyre tracks

I tread softly

Bees have dreams too

3: Plains

When I’m bankrupt

I’ll also chuck around

whatever currency is left

So I don’t blame you

the way you flash your aloes

in June

pillars of plenty

their gold standard

So that your hills become rich

beyond any counting

and your plains spill abundance

beyond all measure


4: Sky

Thank you for sky

so blue I can know

what drowning is

and having

drowned know

what living is


Joy Millar is mostly very glad about being born considering the odds of being born are about 1 in 400 trillion. She dances, writes, teaches, improvises and creates. She does these things because how can one not?

“Night Lulls”


The garden, is where

I go to plant my small poem,

my seed of grief, in the moonlight

where the scars of my past coagulate

In the open, knowing

we don’t get to do it over

or reshuffle

but here


the little lives





the smell of night growing.

Here things are done over.

Here, where I lay my grief and think of you

the ground is moved by fresh things.

In slivers of silence

I crumple, terra firma

still the buds nudge on past


the echoes of a love poem

blowing over

A garden in the dark


Suenel Bruwer-Holloway lives in McGregor. Her plays for youth have been published by Junkets, and her poems have appeared in The Sol Plaatje European Union Poetry Anthology and The Ground’s Ear. Some of her children’s verses have been put to music. She published a single-author anthology of short stories. Her plays have been performed at the Grahamstown Arts Festival and in the U.K and U.S.A. She works as academic editor, translator and content writer, but really loves dogs, gardening and cooking vast meals.

The good thief


Sometimes with stealth, mostly brazenly,

latter day Lady Appleseed wanders across the world:

Plectranthus cuttings in her bra past public garden gates

Queen of the Night seeds in the travel toothbrush tube

(more goodwill than vigilance at Varanasi airport)

purple pomodoro squashed into a coaster in Venice

lilac slips a little scratchy in the cuff of cut off jeans.

Addicts lie, no question about it, as hibiscus cuttings find their way

from Egypt for a more abiding karkadé fix.

Lotus lilies in a ziplock bag (the Louis Vuitton of collectors)

roses creep from Kew to join white wisteria, arabesque suchini,

tulips from Turkey, satin cushion peach pips, Everglade orchids,

Stapelia from the Richterveld, a green mango from Cuba

and one perfect lime …

gather at the gates of Eden.

She follows the creator’s edict to the letter:

“Go forth into the world and propagate plants.”



Mariëtte van Graan is a senior lecturer in Afrikaans literature at the University of South Africa. She makes time for writing poetry inbetween reading, teaching literature and researching all manner of ghost stories. Some of her poems have sporadically been published on various small platforms, and she is currently working on putting together her poetry debut.



lê jou kop neer op my bors

vleg jou hande deur my hare

haal diep en stadig asem

sluit jou oë teen die

blou wonde tussen my ribbes die

rooi rowe tussen my borste die

pers murg in my beendere die

groen slierte tussen my wimpers die

geel gleuwe in my ruggraat die

swart klonte in my hart –

ons is te oud om om te gee

oor die kleure van verweer

lê jou kop neer op my bors

en droom net wit drome


Anzé Bezuidenhout woon op ’n plaas op die Springbokvlakte, naby Modimolle, Nylstroom. As plaasvrou is sy versot op die Bosveld. Anzé vertolk graag haar diepste gevoelens en gedagtes in digvorm. Haar liefde vir woorde kom ’n baie lang pad en mettertyd het sy haar eie stem begin verfyn. Woorde is haar asem. Anzé het ’n webtuiste, www.ink.org.za geskep, waar sy aan enigeen met ’n besonderse liefde vir Afrikaans die geleentheid bied om hul sentimente uit te leef in gedigte, rubrieke, verhale en ook musiek en liriek.


traag het die son sy oë geknip

‘n bloedrooi traan

agter die berg se vuis gestort;

vir oulaas moeg sy asem

in oker geblaas

donkernag het sy kombers geskud

duisend sterre wat knipperoog

oor die tuin van my beminde

word jou asem die ink

in God se pen

psalms geskryf

hoogliedere gesing

saam luister ons

na die skoonheid in stilte

in die wye spektrum van niks

hoor ons die hartklop

van die natuur

wat seine

van aanbidding

deur jou oë stuur


Werner Wehmeyer was born on the 20th August 1956. While at school he never thought he would be writing poetry or stories one day. Since moving to Scotland his love for Afrikaans grew and he am glad he can share his writing all over the world. With poetry he can share his thoughts about life and love with anybody no matter who and where they are.

Jy is

Ek verkyk my aan die landskap van

jou bestaan. Jy het jou eie natuur

met temperament, die weerburo in

jou oë voorspel meestal mooi weer.

Net soms, misreën oor jou wange.

Die suidooster waai selde.

As die dag breek uit jou mond, en

son lig sy lyf oor jou twee heuwels;

hoor ek sagte koer waar tortels

vlieg uit jou hare. Spinnerak-slaap

hang oor vleie van jou oogbank, tot

jy ontwaak uit jou tempel lyf.

Teen twaalfuur word jou vel grasvelde

waar gedagtes blom in jou hande.

Roosblare groei teen jou wang as

die gloed van die dag styf teen jou rus.

Rustigheid kabbel oor lippe, en

stadig word jou skaduwee skemer.

Met die maan wat sak tussen jou

dye, verlei jy my met die knak van

jou lokkende vinger. Jy word ʼn

blom en ek die by wat nektar soek.

Saam word ons ʼn hemelruim vol

planete tot ons wegsink in mekaar.




Anri Potgieter is 38 jaar oud, gebore en getoë ‘n plaasmeisie van die Hoëveld. Sy is ‘n onderwyseres van beroep, maar vir die afgelope twee jaar ‘n geseënde tuisbly-mamma.

ou liefde

hulle sê: ou liefde roes nooit

weet hulle, ou liefde, raak later so

motgevreet en opgemuf en

jaar na jaar net nog – ouer?

daar loop ‘n tweespoorpad dekades

lank al tussen ek en jy en ons

jou voete, nooit op pad na êrens

my spore, altyd terug na nêrens

en twee ou-ou harte

deurgeroes gewag.


Sunita Keyser is a pharmacist and has always stood with one leg in the sciences. The other leg belongs to languages; her love and respect for the written word. She grew a third leg when she married a farmer and lived a privileged life close to nature and farm animals for many years. Sunita is now retired.



digby hier

tog ver vandaan

in die tuin van die beminde

loop die liefde ligvoets

van immer af

talm tussen takkies

raak ‘n roosblaar aan

adem in

bot beskeie

groei dan geil

en blom tot barstens toe

in die tuin van die beminde

het die digter tydloos eens verklaar

my liefde is soos ‘n rooi rooi roos

en steeds

oor taal en tye heen

roep iemand

my liefde vir jou is rooi

my liefde vir jou is mooi

is nxa!

in die tuin van die beminde

tot immer toe

verenig harte doringloos

word alles heel

heers die roos




Jadrick Pedro-Koopman is ‘n selfpubliserende digter van Ceres. Hy het reeds twee bundels gepubliseer. Sy werk was oor die jare ook in verskeie gesaamentlike bundels opgeneem. Hy skryf vreesloos oor die lewe en hoop dat sy skrywe vir ander genesing en hoop sal bring.


Pa, ek het vir jou

‘n brief geskryf

met ‘n pen wat rooi bloei

in simboliek dat bloed

is dikker as water.

Ek het my woorde

sorgvuldig getel

om jou van al

my seer te vertel

die aardse hel

van nêrens behoort nie.

Na die lang gekrabbel

en talm oor woorde

het my ink opgeraak

nog voor ek kon sê

dat ek jou liefhet

of kon vra of  jy my

darem nog liefhet.

Ek het vir jou

‘n brief geskryf Pa

selfs ‘n foto van my

in die koevert gesit,

maar ek het jou adres vergeet

net soos jy van my vergeet het.



The priest’s garden

I walked down the sandstone steps.

The sun had chosen me to be his disciple,

so I became the yellow daisy bending before him,

the green grass that softened at his footfall.

The trees leaned in with a wonder whole as mine,

their leaves shone with the light of a thousand prayers.

I followed the first man down the long path

towards the birds laughing like children in the branches.

I yearned to reach the one who held the world like

a Holy Book in his civil hands, my love an unwritten page.

How could I see the sorrow composting at the fence

or the lone sapling growing towards the light, untended?


Dorian Haarhoff (1944 – who knows?). An increasing love of metaphor, a shift from the literal to the symbolic and becoming a story mark his passage. This past life Professor of English (Namibia) facilitates creative writing and story-telling wordshops far and near, including Zen Pen retreats at Temenos based on The Writer’s Voice.

The Sacred Heart of the Garden

With a turtle dove at rest on a shoulder,

a pilgrim wandered, seeking the garden

heart. Then ambling around the outer ring

he sent the winged one on such a quest.

Bird alighted on the Buddha

who raised a silent flower.

She fluttered to The Well where

bubbling over stones, a Bethesda

angel troubled the story waters.

To the white rose angel of lost children

whose spirits wander ever the paths.

Little Way Chapel intoned Theresa’s vision.

Let this presence settle into your bones.

Where oh where? Was the centre within Celtic cross,

icon art – Christ Buddha embracing, or the world

in the lap of a Babushka child in Mary’s lap?

In the mystic symbols of a Baraka shrine?

Or somewhere beneath a crescent Mecca moon

intoning the ninety nine names of the Divine?

In the lit seven cup candle stick, the menorah,

the cosmos in Krishna’s throat, in Brahman’s breath?

A thatched cottage named of Benedict’s cave

where the Saint composed a trellis for faith,

a copy earthed in the foundation?        But where?

Was it Rumi’s rustic doorway where worlds meet,

the labyrinth, the spiral still point, willow or oak?

Tanden energy, two fingers below the belly,

the axis in qigong and tai chi? Bell, alcove,

seed, bud, duckpond, fount, a handful of soil?

Within the charitable Caritas chorus of books?

In poems that festival the branches in spring?

After all nightday circling, the turtle dove

descended with an olive branch in her beak

to whisper the secret in the pilgrim’s inner ear.

It pulses here as an infinite sphere whose centre

is everywhere, whose circumference nowhere.



Marcella Edwards was born in 1958 and raised on a farm in Durbanville, and launched from there to become an Art Therapist, Educator, Linguist and Translator, Initiator and Facilitating Mentor of collaborative, interdisciplinary distributed (online) and face to face learning programmes. She has also worked as a strategic community program developer, in diverse cultural indigenous settings in Africa, Europe, the Andes and the Amazon of South America, and Canada. She returned to McGregor 2 years ago.

Singing the Song of the Green World

From any pause, any place or point in time, it opens out, deep


Though … not down; not deep. Behind is it? Or within?

So thin, this fine line that skims like the swift

quickly passing its final reflection of flight over the still waters.

We float there,

each in our vessel of selfhood

entranced, in the interchange of light and shadow which,

like litmus paper,

flares responsive to the pH of our engagement.

Meanwhile beneath this (or behind? below?)

From some place we cannot place,

Dimensions sway back and forth.

Like the strings of a harp plucking octaves from the air,

realising form; the dragonfly

the gleaming throb of its body poised fragile, pulsing its wings

in the sunlight.

Sunlight! Just that alone that fills a garden entirely, with green

light, and gold.

Within the influence of this sphere through a long alchemy of

Substance transformed, how many lives refined into and out of


Metabolites compounding possibilities,

plants breathing volatile couplings, creating clouds, fixing

carbon in the dark, moulding space, making shaping our world,

this stage

without which we would not have emerged into the limelight

we now insist on.

We’ve allotted to ourselves an aloofness.

We are afraid. Afraid to die, with the skilled sharpness of our

scrutiny we cut away. Analysing things taken apart

we have lost sight of what holds them together.

Even though our eyes have been trained latterly to a dry view,


obscuring our hearts

we too are spinning on this fulcrum

that fuels, funds, unfurls, exclaims, exults!

Renewing now, now and now, constant, at each instant

the birth of living forms, through the dark tunnel of love.

Crystals, uniquely forming

self-arranging in accord each along the lines of their invisible

lattices: or how,

in the early hours of day suspended, trembling hearts answer

to one call.

Spark water into fire.

We too are being tried. We are vessels being fired

in the fierce rays of our rising star, iron and clay,

quenched, when the silver wealth of the rain comes thronging

laying to rest the dust of which we are a part

you and I both, releasing the drought, to fulfil the desire

of all singing the Green World song

we do belong, we do, we belong.


Joint Prize Winner: Pralini Naidoo

Pralini Naidoo is a PhD candidate at the Department of Women’s and Gender Studies, University of the Western Cape, South Africa. Her work is focused on tracing narratives of (food) seed through women who have descended from indenture in South Africa. As an activist, poet, gardener, designer, mother and eternal student, Pralini is passionate about the intersections of the social, political, environmental and creative. She is author of Wild has Roots, a collection of poems, reflections and short stories.


Weaver tore down his nest


a shower of dry rage

catching the winter sun

Cat murdered a dove

and filled herself round

sated in the midst

of scattered feathers

Clivia flowered


breaking through the monotone

of a thirsty yard

under Clivia lies Puppy

where I had planted

her gone-too-soon body

all those years ago

beyond the walls


gunshots and explosions

heady with inevitability

Garden listens

she knows about heartbreak

and death

and rage

and loss

and the courage of compost


Joint Prize Winner: Jim Pascual Agustin

Jim Pascual Agustin was born in the Philippines and has lived in South Africa since 1994. His work appears or is forthcoming in Modern Poetry in Translation, Rhino, World Literature Today, New Coin, Ake Review, and Hotazel Review. He has published several poetry collections and a short story collection in Filipino. His most recent books (San Anselmo Press) are How to Make a Salagubang Helicopter & other poems, which was shortlisted for the National Book Award in Manila, and Crocodiles in Belfast & other poems.

My Mother had a Concrete Garden

Pots she gathered of different shapes

and state, some cracked, some battered,

all unwanted. And past the concrete

roads, far from where the government

stabbed the names of politicians in poles,

she found soil that could hold

young shoots that begged

to be nurtured. And that she did

in silence, people thought she was mute.

But she hummed in the absence

of an audience, in the hope a single leaf

would push out of handfuls of soil.

I was too impatient and missed

when light green unexpectedly

made her gasp.




Tyler Wratten is 16 years old. Part of her love for reading came from being introduced to books by her mother at a young age, the other part grew with every book she read. Soon, books were not enough. She wanted more, for the stories she imagined to be written down. Most of them will probably stay in her notes folder, but sometimes she writes something that needs to be shared. This is one such a piece, and she hopes it will be as beautiful to you as it was to her when she saw it in her mind for the first time.

The November Clivias

My grandad collected plants as one would postage stamps

Clivias were his favourite – that’s why we counted them each year

Watching their numbers fluctuate with the weather

Watching their glowing fire take over the garden

That was always the highlight of my year

When granny would call and say it was time

Time to count the clivias

And, just like my mom before me,

I would stand in his powerful shadow

Watching the strongest man I knew

Become soft

For the buds that he somehow, no matter the weather

Could coax into flower

The year he died

There were no clivias to count

And no matter how hard I searched

Wading through the sea of green

My bare feet covered with the wet spring soil

I never found a single flame

I never found him

Now every year

My granny calls and says it’s time

Time to count the clivias

And I follow her down the mossy path, worn with his footsteps

While she points to the flames

And every now and again

Between the trees

I can see his shadow

Tending to the flowers

Coaxing them to bloom once more



Estelle Minas is a student at Diocesan School for Girls in Makhanda. She was born in Komani and has always held a love for reading and writing poetry. Although English is her home language, visits to her Afrikaans family in the Western Cape has allowed hr to develop a passion for Afrikaans poetry as well. She have been particularly inspired by Ingrid Jonker and Matthews Phosa.



 t           t        t                     t

 r e ë n d r u p p e l s op my vel  

t                     t                    t

Hartklop van die land

 t           t        t                     t

Kom gee my tuin ń s l u k k i e

t                     t                    t

Kom d e u r d r e n k haar

met jou reuk

 t           t        t                     t

My tuin is so droog

t                     t                   

Hoor jy hoe hard k r a a k haar vel?


Sien jy

die bloed wat daardeur sypel?

 t           t        t                     t

My tuin is d o r s


vir die hartklop van ons land

te d r o o g

te d o r s

te m i n.


Adi Ayache is a grade 11 student at Herzlia High School with a strong passion for academia. Growing up bilingual, she has always had an appreciation for language, which contributed to her love of the performing arts. Her favourite subjects are biology, chemistry and English and she hopes to pursue a career in the science field, whilst keeping her creative side in tact through various outlets. Her hobbies include modern, tap and ballet dance, drama, delving into literature and writing poetry.

our hair

i dislike you from the bottom of what you have left of my heart. the way you slam doors or the way your voice echoes through empty crevices. corners that were once tiny realms of silence ruled by emperors of serenity are now engulfed by your gold keys and copper coins.

i dislike the way your darkness overshadows the mound of bricks and hollow walls we call home and how these agonisingly overcast periods can last for days, yet fester for decades. unspoken, unresolved, residing in the unfixed cracks of the tiles which you ignore.

i dislike the belittlement you offer freely with your muscular hands attached to little limbs, the fear in my bones when the lock turns and your small stature walks through the door.

i dislike how good i have become at russian roulette.

i hate how much power you hold over us, as you are merely a debauched carapace with the voice of a man broken enough to destroy worlds with one inconvenience.

i hate your fraudulent manners and smiles of plaster that scab off the walls of your futile kingdom.

i hate myself for allowing your authority to become my enslavement, your gifts to become my chains, my success to become your salvation.

i despise how you’ve taught me to despise myself.

i despise all 3 of my names and how perilously i want to change them.

i despise the blood running through my veins and the map of ancestry that reminds me that you and i are connected.

i despise my dna; the strands of you that make me.

i have learnt to resent god for his role in my creation and the way each cell we share comes together to form the fatigued face i call my own.

i have learnt to resent my success as it gives you permission to utter my name and how my joy brings you joy.

i have learnt to resent the pride you take in me as it makes me feel love. in reality, in the depths of your mauled soul and shining demeanour, you are so sickly proud of yourself.

i now loathe my independence and how i do not need you to be great or the fact that i would never abandon you like you regularly abandon me. you need your daughter.

i loathe everything you’ve given me and the parts of me that lack, but most of all

i loathe the long dark curls that trail down my back.





Every emotion is coated in petals

Boxed with a ribbon for you to consume

Every butter-yellow rose is handed to you for free

Every dead plant is hidden in the corner, there is no need for you to see it

There are weeds growing in every crack, but I would rather pay attention to watering yours

The bedding is overgrown, every last piece of joy has been smothered.

But I revert my attention to planting the tulips in your mind

I would give every last living specimen in my garden to you

For every flower in my garden is rotting

But I would still give them all to you in a heartbeat.


Joint Prize Winner: Simon van Dyk

Simon van Dyk is 11 jaar oud en woon in Kaapstad. Hy hou van lees, skryf, teken, Lego bou en koekies eet. Sy gunsteling seisoen is winter wanneer dit lekker reënerig is. Dis die beste weer vir lees, skryf, teken, Lego bou en koekies eet. Die boom in sy tuin het hom geïnspireer om die gedig te skryf.

Ons vergeet van die bome

Die ou boom wat daar staan,

hy fluister geheime van sy jong dae.

Soos als om hom vergaan,

sien hy allerhande goed, o, ja.

Mense kom met byl en saag,

om al die bome af te kap.

Die diere hardloop weg, so traag,

omdat ons diep spore trap.

Die mense verwoes ons planeet,

ons het van die bome vergeet.


Joint Prize Winner: Patronella Basson

Patronella Basson is 16 years old. She has been writing for 4 years. Her love for poetry sparked in 2017 and everything flowed from there. She enjoys writing for and with the Helenvale Poets. Her poems deal with her personal situations and she writes because it gives her a sense of freedom. Poetry gives her hope for better days, every word she puts onto a page describes how she feels and when the poem is finished she feels a sense of relief to have let out cramped up feelings.

Kers se vlam

Dit wikkel wild,

nes my verbeelding,

maar die ligte windjie

dreig om die vlammetjie

dood te blaas.

Die geflikker

encourage my om positief

oor my toekoms te bly,

want daar’s iets groot

instoor vir my,

maar vi’nou

gaan ek nie toelaat

dat enige een

my kersie

kom doodblaas nie.