South African Poet, Abigail George, Releases Debut Collection
Abigail George, who was featured on this blog in December 2010, has just published her debut poetry collection, Africa Where Art Thou? This is an accomplishment she is happy about, just one of the many projects she is working on. For instance, one of her short stories is featured in African Roar 2011, and she has received funding to work on the compilation of her short story collection. She is one of the active, globally connected generation of (technologically savvy) African writers publishing both online and in print. I have had the opportunity to read her works in different publications, and I look forward to getting my own copy of Africa Where Art Thou?
Abigail George studied film and television production for a short while, which was followed by a brief stint as a trainee at a production house. She is a writer and poet. She has lived in Johannesburg and Port Elizabeth but she is currently living in Port Elizabeth . She has had poetry published widely in print in South Africa and online in Finland , Canada , the United States and England and in South Africa , Kenya , Zimbabwe , Nigeria and the Istanbul Literary Review in Turkey . She has had short fiction published online. In 2005 and 2008 she was awarded grants from the National Arts Council in Johannesburg ; one for a poetry anthology which has now been published and another for manuscript development for a collection of short stories. She is not purely devoted to poetry but to pursuing writing fulltime. Storytelling for her has always been a phenomenal way of communicating and making a connection with other people.
Excerpt from Africa Where Art Thou
Fire in Bosnia 1992
The international press talk
In tongues reminiscent of old
Breathe air through iron lungs
Here the colour of death is bold.
War wounds are like stigmata
Earth signs pale in comparison
They wash over you like a downpour
Of rain over a suit of armour.
Residents in a crumbling community
Are much like a sculpture
An ethereal intrusion
In the eye of the beholder.
By Abigail George
Email address: email@example.com
Praise for Africa Where Art Thou
Whether she is an outsider looking inside, like in the poem on the Rwanda genocide, or an insider telling the outside, like in the first two poems, Abigail George writes with the sensitivity that touches all who devour her poetry. Her sense of history is quite acute and interesting. History inspires; it is beautiful and ugly at the same time, and it’s always amazing how writers, poets and artists who turn to history tend to produce work with depth.
KHANYILE MLOTSHWA, writer and journalist, Sunday News Bulawayo, Zimbabwe
In this collection of small and large framed poetry are portraits capable of lingering for a long time.
AHMED MAIWADA, poet, literary critic, Nigeria
In Abigail George’s new poems we find an intrepid sense of exploration, not in the dated sense of seeking treasures from nature, but of mining the far trickier terrain that is the human heart. In these poems that bare the veins of suicide and heroism, faith and poverty, innocence and rape, secrets, not always pleasant, come to light under the searing verse of one of Africa’s more promising young poets.
RICHARD UGBEDE ALI, Editor-in-Chief, Sentinel Nigeria Magazine http://www.sentinelnigeria.org
Reading Africa, Where art thou? evokes varied images of flaming coal, each poem so alive and incandescent it sears the soul, though with a tender urgency. Abigail George brings freshness and poignancy to poetry that singes not only the African heart, but also that of the global conscience.
UCHE PETER UMEZ, author of Dark through the Delta (poems), Nigeria
Abigail George has produced a collection of poems which are trenchant and at the same time empathic to a wide range of subjects. Her honest insight into both herself and that which surrounds her is refreshing and exhilarating. She makes the art of poetry just that: focusing her meaning through diversity and humility as well as technical proficiency… in simple terms: Art. A professional collection, at last, in a chaos of mundanity.
PROFESSOR ROBERT BROOKS, South Africa
The healer is here. Africa, Where Art Thou? will definitely bring a smile to the face of thousands of Africans without hope. Abigail George has shown the power of creativity in these carefully selected poems. Definitely a masterpiece from a seasonal poet and a powerful peace tool mediating between the people and the rulers.
CHIKA ONYENEZI, poet, editor, peace activist with Great Lakes Peace Network, Nigeria
Abigail George asks questions of the continent she loves. Her collection is peopled with the impoverished and marginalised: ‘vacant grown-ups, beggars, orphans and vagrants’. It includes tributes to jazz pianist Moses Molelekwa, photographers Ken Oosterbroek and Kevin Carter and to anti-apartheid activist, Dulcie September. George’s voice is one of conscience and compassion.
MICHELLE MCGRANE, author of Fireflies and Blazing Stars, Hybrid and A Suitable Girl, South Africa
Abigail George’s poetry etches the intricacies of the homestead with expert hands; she effortlessly merges the mundane with the modern, and captures the lowest of depths and the highest of peaks in everything life and South Africa. Her ink flows through the stench of trenches, just as it captures the crisp air of the breathtaking landscapes of her homeland. As a unique chronicler of the past and present, George is a voice that will erupt through the rock solid density of both pre and post apartheid South Africa.
UNOMA AZUAH, Poetry Editor: Sentinelnigeria.org
It is said that being a poet is to live twice as intensely as an ordinary person; it’s like having four eyes, four ears, and four hands. Abigail lives through her poetry and her poems are alive because of her. She shares her visions of beauty and her poems are refined through her understanding of pain. Poetry, Judson Jerome says is “at best a lonely activity—not only writing it, but all the requirements of learning to write it: studying reading poetry of the past, analysing techniques, and staying aware of contemporary literary currents” From her “lonely activity” Abigail shares with us her wonderful poems, resonating with passion and compassion, beauty and ugliness hope and despair. These are all the things poets should be talking about and she manages to write about these with such eloquence and truthfulness. Abigail you are a poet!
MICHAEL BARRY, Head of Dept, Dept of Arts & Culture, Nelson Mandela Metropole University,, South Africa
A penetrating view of the psyche of the post-apartheid millennium youth. It is not about apartheid: it is about the selfishness and individualism of the rich. It is not about gender issues: it is about the pain, loss and survival of a numbed youth whom suicide personified overwhelms, yet they paradoxically still feel invincible. The seasons speak to the fragile, fleeting nature of the relationships of the youth; their rootlessness; authority that they view as unstable and adults as vacant; a seemingly unattainable purity that they seek; while uttering a clarion call to “see me, know me’…
DORELLE ISAACS, educationalist, South Africa