Afrika speaks with rhythm

AfriKa speaks:

Badilisha Poetry X-Change is both an online audio archive and Pan-African poetry show delivered in radio format. Now the largest online collective of African poets on the planet, Badilisha has showcased and archived over 350 Pan-African poets from 24 different countries. It reflects the myriad of rhythms and rhymes, voices, perspectives and aspirations from all corners of the globe.



by Antjie Krog

Star-stung blind and dying in gravitation
You come
Hard stained and upwards
You come
Your crystal breath at the mouth-close sound of birds
Star-stung blind
Stars dying
Stars breathtakingly closest galactic site
I’m one, I must become
I’m fastened
with wrists that can pile up stars

The true you
The yes you
The grass still rustles from your ankles
Just now, each time I look up
Turning away
Astral bird-song wrapped in night
Let the word come right through you
Let more come than I
More than the undermining mind
The badgering mind
The endlessly eyeing mind
Let us become
Nakedly unmoved
That which we never could have become

Autumn the singularity from your sleep before dawn
All signals roam through your tongue and we hold each other’s blood in trust
My lived one
My faith song enraptured
Your non-negotiable breath makes of us separate ones in the course of time
Oh…my embodied love lingering in gravity


by Breyten Breytenbach

Right at the beginning
when we were still slim
with answers as white as teeth and supple eyes,
and you innocent,
and my desire a snake mousing for your wrinkled nut –
right then and there I wanted to write you a poem

At the time the days were unthinking
and nights long enough to dream
Time was for ever.
I scrabbled a spray of broad outlines on an envelope
as ever at the outset
the shadows of one hand’s displacements

I wanted to mark you with crosses
the way one flips a coin in the air
to conjecture the future,
play your body like a fresh instrument
unfolding under my fingers
to shudderingly sing of discovery’s joys.
Thus, more or less, were the trails of the verse

which I could not knot to stanzas of sound.
And we lived, we travelled,
we bottled the seasons, explored the slits:
I squandered the dark dimensions

My errings put to sea:
the envelope as unwritten letter
sailed from one land to the other
from hand to hand.
Sometimes with a sudden dove of thrashing
in the throat
I discovered it again in a box of old papers
in the dark windfilled loft of an evacuated house
and I tried to remember

what it was I would have liked to write
right at the beginning
when we were still lithe
with white-toothed answers and a supple eye

But the handmap had become
the pale membrane of a testament
scribbled in blotting language,
indecipherable like the snakeskin
no longer able to unknot
the deployment and pleating of desire
or to invent the whole

Now when my end is rising over the horizon
with bleached sails –
a first and last island
where only the blind dog waits in faith
I fold this writing in two, woman,
and lay it, hidden in the envelope
of a lost beginning,
like an unavailable homecoming
at your door


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