Light and After, by Kobus Moolman
Deep South Publishers (Grahamstown: 2010)
Kobus Moolman’s Light and After is his fifth collection of poetry. Lyrically evocative and engaging, this collection reintroduces readers familiar with Moolman’s poetry to his confident lines, unique images, memorable language, and impressive narrative voice. In this collection Moolman uses a mixture of prose poems and short/lyric poems to explore themes that encompass public and private dimensions.
Divided into four sections, the book opens appropriately with “Moving,” a haunting poem that uses a collage of images and an observant narrative voice to unravel the mystery of what appears to be a dream. In this poem we are introduced to a new homeowner’s obsession with his new home and the promise that comes with owning a new home. This observation becomes clear to us as the speaker declares: “It was their new house/With all the lights on /Their shiny, new, empty house / With large rooms/ And that peculiar, slightly sinister, echo that all empty houses have / Houses that have not been domesticated yet” (10).
Cleary, the majority of the poems in Light and After share Moolman’s penchant for sensory images and colorful language. For example, the poem “Old Town” uses concrete images with strong visual effect to hold the reader’s attention:
Sky closed over
grey slate cold stone
brown hills black tar
rock buried beneath
Thin light cold hands
rusted old steel trees
stiff wind small birds
exploding leaves (22)
Several poems in this collection, including “Umfolozi,” “False Bay,” “Hunger” “Theft,” “Burial,” “Boy,” “That Day” and “Winter Dawn,” reveal the author’s reflections on ecological, social, political, and cultural issues relating to present day South Africa. The third section of the book, which is titled “Anatomy,” presents images that easily remind us of someone with disability. For example, the poem “The Foot (the other one)” reads “The other foot is stupid. / And small. /And not worth talking about”(51). This brief description is insightful and makes a reader think that if the poem directly addresses the condition of a person with disability, then it clearly shares with us the disappointment the person feels about his/her body part.
Overall, Light and After shares with readers the mind of a sensitive poet. Moolman is very meticulous in his choice of words. “Afterwards,” without a doubt my favorite section of the book, sums up my conclusion of this collection of poetry by Kobus Moolman: brilliant!
Reviewer Bio: Dike Okoro is a poet, short story writer, photographer, biographer, essayist and critic. He is the editor of Speaking for the Generations: Contemporary Short Stories from Africa (Trenton: AWP, 2010).