FIRST PLACE: Jim Pascual Agustin

Jim Pascual Agustin was born in the Philippines and grew up under the shadow of the Marcos dictatorship. Since 1994, he has been living in Cape Town. He writes in Filipino and English, and has published ten books of poetry and a collection of stories. Bloodred Dragonflies is Agustin’s first book to be published in South Africa (Deep South, Makhanda, 2022).

And During the Night

When the leopard frogs were roused from ground

that for years looked like cracked concrete,

the weight on the silenced highway was lifted

croak by croak, faint at first and few.

It must have taken time for the wet winter

to reach their secret place of slumber. As their bodies

wakened to the touch of water, their tongues,

instructed by instinct, stretched to caress eyes,

backs, limbs, bellies. Sacrificing sleep, I listened.

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.


Kris Marais



you woke me with a cool hand

gently but firmly covering

my mouth using finger signs

you pleaded for me to get up—

completely awake now I pulled

the slider quietly

unzipping my sleeping bag—

a week on foot in the

wilderness had quickened all our

senses you held my hand and led

me away from the firelight to

the river’s shadowy edge and

taking aim flicked a switch—

revealing Jurassic eye-shine—

six glittering garnets in the

puny beam of a cheap tin torch

their big grins were very toothy

in that light and somewhat bashful

THIRD PLACE: Phelelani Makhanya

Phelelani Makhanya is a poet born Kwa-Maphumulo KZN Province. His works have been published in literary journals like, New Contrast, New coin, Botsotso, Brittle Paper and Avbob Poetry Project. He has two published collections: This Time I shall not cry and My Father’s Blazer.

Death Dance

The ufukwe birds and umnqandane shrubs

are witnessing a special event

in the savannah:

a dance performance of awkward partners.

A porcupine and a leopard

waltz with measured intention.

A synchronised movement

like a body and its shadow.

The porcupine’s eyes are locked

on the leopard’s eyes and paws.

Three steps to the right—a pause,

three steps to the left—a pause.

The porcupine flips its gown of quills

towards the leopard’s ever-changing

directions, with choreographic precision,

like a master matador.

The porcupine knows—

in order to escape your death

you must stare at it,

you must dance with it.


Lise Day has retired to Hout Bay after forty years of teaching English, most recently at the Nelson Mandela University. She assists students with English at the Scalabrini Foundation. She is a member of the ‘Pleached Poetry’ writing circle. Her short stories have been published in the English National Curriculum text books and in periodicals and books. She has had poems published in many journals and anthologies and is an enthusiastic participant in the Mc Gregor poetry festivals.

Wild Swimming

The sun creeps up

behind the Twelve Apostles

gives the small rock buddha

a radiant halo

as he contemplates

this dawn.

Seagulls line up, important

chatter about breakfast

monitoring the sea wall

whose sturdy arms embrace

the tidal pool framed in

restless sea.

I am very small here today

wrapped in flurries

between great boulders

green waves rising turmoil

sound booming all around me


A swoop of swallows dips low

knows I am a sea creature

salt water on my tongue

blood flowing fast

my thin crumpled skin

glows alive.

COMMENDED: Celesté Fritze

Believing in the birds


While I waited in the dark of nightfall—

feelings of loss, of fears unknown,

not as pronounced as they used to be,

thoughts I had hoped not to indulge in again—–

these birds of spring were heading south.

I was waiting without knowing

by now I should have memorised

the slender landscapes of their bodies

their songs and flight, their begging calls,

too little time to love them

amidst the naked trees of winter

while the moon lit up troubled skies.

Little songbirds turning in at dusk,

their soft voices untroubled,

I should have learnt from them

the art of living light.


Lowveld Night

Calm blanketed night

of this my most beautiful land

vast silence deep—

bellied roar,

eliciting a response

and, I, in my tent.

A soft-silvered landscape of

thorned silhouettes

mopanaed veld, still,

chivvied now and then

by the measured crunch, crunch

of the invisible herd

their vast greyness emerging and—


slippered into the African night.


Touching the Wild

It is the soft ending

of a crisp linen dream pouring into dawn

Unentangled and permeating

That sits in the brain and vigorously kisses

The fact that it is even possible

To remember

It is the sound of the night jar

Through waxing light and featherings

All plump with nostalgia and browns

That tumbles round the ear and thirstily drinks

Up the truth of wild reality

It is the shy morning star

A casting glow to the wet and wondrous and feral

Night not long ago

Where the air was thick with feeling

It is the love that happens

Quickly, and in turn shudders

Without reason

It too is wild

Between us

COMMENDED: Stephanie Saunders

Stephanie Saunders writes mostly humorous poems. These have appeared in various publications. She has been writing poetry since her schooldays, but became immersed in it through a course with Finuala Dowling at UCT’s Summer School, her academic pursuits until then having been mainly in fine art, which she studied at Michaelis. She is also interested in hiking and other outdoor pursuits.

A Rare Sighting

I could not believe my eyes.

I thought they were extinct or,

critically endangered, surely.

And although they tended to have,

at one stage, been regularly seen

in urban settings, little is known

of their habits, how they lived,

what they ate, why their numbers

were dwindling so dramatically,

whether anything was being done,

(Maybe, breeding them artificially

to increase their numbers) but now,

what an encouraging sign,

in broad daylight, pushing his bike

up the hill below our house,

a real-live postman!


FIRST PLACE: Andrea Sieberhagen


Wie het so baie klippe

in die veld versamel?

Soos woorde




selfs stamel-woorde

langs mekaar

word een sin


…net as jou hart bedaar.

Baie klippe

in die veld

gestapel op mekaar

meer as een

(as jy wil tel)

word buitelug


absorbeer selfs swaarste sug

bring diep deurleefde sin

…net daar

in jou hart bewaar.

SECOND PLACE: Jadrick Pedro Koopman

Klipskeur kind

Daar is koggelmanders

in die kouebokkeveld

klip koggelmanders wat op

klip koppies wip kop wip-wip dans

in die laatmiddag son

en as vinke flink vlieg

verby skemer skadu’s

van die laatmiddag son

vlug klipskeur kind

jeugdig grys geskib

na groef en kloof

se pantser teen ‘n halwe volmaan

wat met kriek kriek kriek  leriek

die nag tot

ope geheim verklaar.

THIRD PLACE: Helma Laubscher


Vang vir my ‘n ystervark

om te vertroetel

as jy ver is

en ek,


in dié emosionele wildernis.

Wit en swart

Swart en wit

Pyn op pyn

Krap en krap

aan die ystervarkseer.

My hart sal hom



omdat jy weg is.

Ek wou nog

met jou praat,

maar my lyf

was te stom

oor die ystervarkveer …

dié wilde verwarring.



HIGHY COMMENDED: Anze Bezuidenhout


ek wil vir jou uit my duisternis skryf

sodat rus en vrede jou

in ‘n moskombers omvou

jy alle swart gedagtes

soos helder sterre

teen die donkernag se blou

kan verf

in gebroke taal

dwaal my sinne

deur die lewe se wildernis

waar niemand dit kan vertaal nie

tonnels kronkel deur nat mure

sweef soms hoog soos arende

maar kruip ook skaam weg

saam met swamme

in verrotte boomstompe

nou bly die kringe van my alfabet

uitdy soos die weerkaatsing

van ‘n eensame tarentaal

in die donker van ‘n waterpoel

ek skryf vir jou ‘n wildernis

in die ink van die son se rooi

met ‘n troupantveer

en met die stem van ‘n hoopvolle maan

sing ek vir oulaas

‘n lalalied

net vir jou

COMMENDED: Maricel Botha


huldeblyk aan ʼn onbesonge bosbewoner



rustig in jou naaldevel

ritsel oor Magaliesrand

oor klip en bos en veld gebrand

ritsel rustig voort my kind

strooi pennetjies wat ek sal vind

ritsel saggies voort

honde blaf deur doringdraad

sluip stilletjies, sluip stilweg weg

kleintjies skoffel agterna

pennetjieskroos agter ma

ritsellyntjie oor die rand

op die paadjie harde sand

loop ligvoet in die wind

maanskyn dof op naaldevel

maanskyn blink in pikswart oog

sluip-sluip oor jou bergverhoog

sluip-sluip tot diep in die kloof

kloutjies klou aan blommebol

kloutjies grawe boomwortel

klouter oor die klippe, kind

roffel oor die rand

jou vel is nat met nag se dou

jou kake het genoeg gekou

skoffel lyntjie huis toe terug

kroos skrop plek teen ma se rug

daar kom haal die slaap jou nou

rus in pennetjiesgewaad

nou steek die dag jou stekels weg

en aarde streel jou pennelyf

soos nuwe ma die los kopvel

van babatjie, nog lelik, vryf

oggendson skep Mosesbos

maar jy ontwaak met sterreskyn

en waar jy slaap bly berggeheim

COMMENDED: Carina Stander

wanneer ‘n digter die vleie barvoets bewandel

wanneer ‘n digter die vleie barvoets bewandel

en geurende verse daaruit kweek,

lees ons later van ‘n tyd

toe mens en vis saam deur die water

kon skater; glinster en glip

sonder vrees vir verdrinking

en die lelies het geluister

en amfibieë het gespríng

deur maanverlate moerasse

en met naaldekokerblou kele

die sterre besing

wanneer ‘n digter die windverwoeste berg bestyg

sien ook ons die musiek in ‘n stofspikkel

die suiwerheid van klip

die koelte in die middagwind

en die gedagtegang van bome

terwyl ‘n kind aarselend aanstap

deur die kamers van ‘n woud

wanneer ‘n digter terugloop na die droomplek

bly ons onwillig agter met net woorde;

woorde en die wete dat

(toe ons nog wildvreemd en verfladderd was)

sy ons metafore raak kon hóór

soos ‘n stokinsek die plantsap

in ’n blaar hóór vloei

byna goddelik

was die digter:

te aards om op te hemel


WINNER: Bronwyn Egan

Taking Tebatšo Home


I can’t hold this beauty on my own anymore—

The moon gathered up in the arms of the valley,

The shadows shaking out their lacy laundry,

And, on the far side of the villages,

The fire,

Falling over the shoulders of the veld in brazen flirtation.

I try to pick it all up,

Light and laundry spilling from my fingers,

And turn to show the boy,

Only to drop it all to hold him—

Because he’s holding his rural scrap of a village dog,

With all the love that’s ever been lost in the world,

And she’s looking at him with the moon in her eyes.

HIGHLY COMMENDED: Phelelani Makhanya

Phelelani Makhanya is a poet born Kwa-Maphumulo KZN Province. His works have been published in literary journals like, New Contrast, New coin, Botsotso, Brittle Paper and Avbob Poetry Project. He has two published collections: This Time I shall not cry and My Father’s Blazer.

A Caterpillar to a Leaf


Old friend

green friend,

how will you like me

to entertain you today?

Do you want me to roll

my body into a ring

or curl it into a crescent moon

or bend it into a parabola?

Say it

I’ll do it

because this is the last time

I slave with you,

under the tyrannous

guard of gravity.

This is the last time

my body is able

to perform lousy

wormy things.

The sky has summoned me

to the wind’s podium

to forever perform

dazzling birdy things.


WINNER: Lindi-Ann Hewitt-Coleman


it was the river who sang me

ankle deep in winter prayer and

midsummer submerged absolution,

learning my silence from

the steady singing of mountains

tumbling grain by grain

until even the sun yielded to the sea.

darkness came and i sang those

soft lullabies, crooning the night

with beak and claw –

blowing whale to the waiting moon

who watched our tangled decent.

i am you when you breathe me,

shape me to your words –

but ink cannot dry on skin that sheds

and the song of snake becomes me

until i wake belly to the forest floor

the pattern of my living

crude carved on my face and hands

and feet that learn the dawn song

of buckpath only to forget

the shape of tongue

that told it so.

when morning comes

i sing the song of mothers,

of flesh rent from flesh

in the dark folds of night

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.



Winner: Gert Hanekom


I opened a book of blood

of howling wilderness

of all that

remains nameless

despite my naming

remains true

despite my truths

I shut it again

bound it

again with my last length

of thread for mapping my return

sealed it

with waning wax

and thought I might as well be

a brain in a jar.


Second: Trudie Coetzee

Our Mother Who Art

It’s not always appropriate to talk

about the way your mother moves
But when she is an earth goddess
It is hard not to gaze up
At her blinking bust
And a howling mouth full of moon
Or a weeping raindrop
Falling heavier to its doom
A graying top
And a silver bloom
Still in old age
You can see her Spring
From cherry blossoms

Water wells
Swell like an ocean
From fragile hands like flowers
And seashell shards
Of nails on hands
Dusty from finer eyebrows
Than back then

When she towered over the earth
With a life inside her seasons
Premeditating birth


THIRD: Carri Kuhn


I take hold

of the net

and pull,

lean in,

grasp tighter,

then step back,

look at the net,

see the shimmering

scales, silver in the

morning sun,

the catch wriggling,

alive, beautiful

in their aliveness,

and I let go,

see them dart

away, down into

the deeps.

I slip my

fashioned skin,

dive after them,

face to their light.



FIRST PLACE: Asaka Nxele

I Am In The Wilderness

The Wilderness Is In Me

In the beginning I am:

an abstraction

A wild notion

… a rhapsody of love

Accelerating into a force

of wild attraction

… a rapturous embrace

Culminating in a fusion

A wild explosion

… a big bang of creation

Transmogrifying into a fetus with a face

suspended in the wilderness

of embryonic space

I am in the wilderness

The wilderness is in me


to the primordial drum of Mother’s  heart beat

our rivers of blood


into a single unity

Then with a birthing  thrust

I am expelled

concretized, incarnated and personalized

as a separate entity

and the wilderness and I

begin to lose touch


SECOND PLACE: Estelle Minas


rol die ritme rond jou mond

en voel die hitte van haar son






sy roep jou neer

en vat jou hand

asem warm op jou wang

sy soen

jou palm klam

en fluister skroeiend in die stof

rol die ritme rond jou mond


THIRD PLACE: Nhlanhla Maphosa

To Question Our Roles as Custodians of Wilderness and Creation

Judges, I was perplexed

when considering my role as custodian of the wilderness

and creation,  nogal  …..

in a world where mother earth has been stolen,

divided into bits,

and sold off as private property

to proprietors, to do with her what they will

The right to wrong her

enshrined in law

Where “Touching the Wild’ is:

To get a grip,

to rip and to plunder

her minerals, her fauna, her flora,

deplete her soil, pollute her air

tear her wilderness asunder

To impoverish her, to make her owners rich:

Undoing creation through deforestation

Throttling diversity with monocropping

that produces fine wines, cigars, silk shirts, chocolates, coffee, tea

–the accoutrements of prosperity

Then the billions of trash bags stuffed

with the debris of prosperity

are shoved back into her belly

or into the sea

So what would happen to this custodian, I ask

if he fulfills his role

to restore her integrity

to protect and maintain her biodiversity

by opening the gates of private property and setting the wilderness free?

Well, I do believe, that this custodian would be slapped in chains

and put into custody


Bly gefokus

Oë is gefokus…

op die Wildebeeste en Zebra’s

Oë bly gefokus:

Daar is reptile in die skarre,

waar die dam se water stroompie loop.

Waar water min raak en die kos skaars,


hulle bak in die son.

Hulle wag geduldig vir die prooi om binne te gaan.

Een-vir-een verdwyn die prooi soos kapok in die son.

Gespartel in die modder,

waar dit ‘n bloedbad raak.

Die ander diere is bang om aan die water te raak!

Maande gaan verby…

Toeriste kom om in die natuur

tussen die wilde diere ry.

Sien jy?

Soos die swawel die somer binne gaan,

Droog die water op.

Visse in die damme vergaan.

Is jy nog gefokus?


COMMENDED: Danel Botes

Wilde madeliefievelde

Deur die wilde blomvelde

sweef my vingers deur die suiwerwit blomkoeverte.

In my gedagtes sing herinneringe.

Herinneringe so mooi soos liedere geskryf vir Christenskap.

Duidende geel sonne wat op staar in ‘n see van blou.

Hitte van die son val neer soos ‘n kombers.

n Kombers van veiligheid, skoonheid en ‘n bybelvers.

Hande wat in groen gras grawe

en bedek word met die reuk van gelukkigheid.

Madeliefies skenk vreugde

nes liefdesbriefies.

COMMENDED: Estelle Minas

I wish I’d told you


Winner: Bothlale Matjila

The Wildness Lives Within Me

The wildness lives within me

And I’m eager to learn something new

The beautiful things that life has to offer

that I am yet to discover

Before social media defines them for me

The  joy

that is going to expand me

and   make me more bold to surf it

then spread  it

If social conventions do not civilize it.

The hurt

That is going to shatter me

But make me eager to dance to the shatterdness

to renew me

If medicine does not tranquilize it.

The peace

That will one day awaken me

And guide me to the mystery of its source

If religion does not colonize it.

The surfing, the dance, the awakening

all resonate to the rhythm of the wildness

that lives within me