Photograph byJolka Igolka

A Landscape of Women's Stories

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Book Review: "Because All Is Not Lost" by Sweta Srivastava Vikram

I don't normally write reviews but this is one chapbook that deserves to be acknowledged for the simple reason that grief surpasses both gender and borders. Sweta Srivastava Vikram's Because All Is Not Lost: Verse on Grief is an optimistic voyage through the process of grief and healing that draws upon the landscape and basic humanity as vehicles of expression.

The brevity of some poems encapsulates the universe of grief. In many ways, certain poems like A Fallen Soldier and Making the choice deliver guerrilla-style punches which leave the emotional impact of her visual and linguistic plays to carry on. Relentless poetry on mortality and finality can be potentially taxing to a reader but Sweta Vikram manages to effortlessly negotiate the boundaries of loss with last lines that leave the reader with moments of possibility - those of regeneration and healing.

The imagery of the landscape in Because All Is Not Lost serves as welcomed grounding motif to what is essentially an intensely emotional and intimate experience. Whether or not, life goes 'on like the Ganges,' the reader is reminded that like the natural world, loss is part of a wider cycle of birth, death and rebirth through acceptance of death. While the intensity of loss may diminish over time, memories of loved ones, like rivers, will continue to shape the landscapes of our individual worlds.

The real joy of this collection is its potential to be read in a single sitting, multiple times, with each subsequent reading revealing new insights. For poetry virgins, this text demands no sophisticated knowledge of poetics and literary discourse. To put simply, it is an accessible piece of enjoyable writing, a concept with which a lot of poets seem to struggle.

So what are you waiting for? Check out the book at Modern History Press or visit the personal website of Sweta Vikram.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Mapping Me - Update

As the sun is setting on another beautiful cool winter's day Orchid and I are discussing and reviewing the submissions we've received so far. It is both exciting and humbling to discover daily submissions from our worldly creatives. August will be the reading month - looking forward to it. Meantime, positive news as Orchid is having her poetry published in Otoliths, Street Cake magazine and Potroast (she did not want me to mention it, claimed it as being naff - but here we are). After 1 September submission deadline we will be drafting the book and distributing it to publishers. Thank you for your stories and your patience. More updates to follow.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Week Ending 17 July 2010

Greetings everyone. Well, to start off, apologies for the lack of updates for the last two weeks. Tamara has been suffering from a godzilla type virus and I've been pulled away from Mapping Me to work some days for a television show as well as setting up my new magazine. Yet, you know what they say: no news is good news. We are receiving a steady stream of submissions - much to our delight- and we will contact everyone after the 1st of September deadline. If you have any queries, please drop us a line.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

I Am Somebody

Thanks to Tania van Schalkwyk for forwarding this I Am Somebody email.

Copied below is Toni Stuart's text.

So it is better to speak/ remembering/ we were never meant to survive. - Audre Lorde, Litany for Survival

I Am Somebody! is a youth organisation that uses storytelling to bring together 18 to 21 year olds from all races, cultures and classes in Cape Town. Using life and archetypal storytelling, we run a two-year mentorship programme with the youth to develop their self-awareness, get them to connect across the invisible barriers of race, culture and class to understand one another and build relationships based on compassion and trust. Thirdly, we help youth develop their innate gifts and then use these to address needs and issues in their own communities. Youth will do research into the issues in their own communities and identify one area they would like to tackle.
The group will then bring their research together and using the skills, knowledge and resources of all the communities represented, they will develop creative solutions to their problems. Our aim is to use the talents of all communities to start developing solutions to Cape Town's problems from the ground up.

"Storytelling, you know, has a real function. The process of storytelling itself is a healing process, partly because you have someone there who is taking the time to tell you a story that has great meaning for them. Stories differ from advice, in that once you get them; they become a fabric of your whole soul. That is why they heal you." - Alice Walker, author of The Colour Purple.

At the end of July, we are hosting a mini-storyteling festival and auction. This is our first fundraising event, to raise the money we need to start implementing our programmes this year. A number of artists who understand, believe and live storytelling through their work and life, will perform at the storytelling festival. Wang Thai Lagoon Beach has offered us their restaurant for the night.
We have started sourcing prizes to auction off, but we need a few big prizes like weekend getaways, breakfasts at hotels to really draw interest and raise a significant amount of money.

Below is a link to the blog of one of our mentors, Warren T Te Brugge. It features a short article and video clips of why we are doing this work.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Week Ending 4th July 2010

Greetings from the Mapping Me team. Not a lot to report this week, I'm afraid. We are steadily reading through submissions and contacting writers from round one. At the weekly meeting today, we discussed the artwork we would like to see in the final product. It is a particularly hard task when the quality has been exceptionally high.

Just a reminder to writers: please don't send us anything in docx format. This seems to be primarily a mac extension (please correct me if I'm wrong) so make sure that you save your document in word 2003. Unfortunately, I am struggling to read docx as my computer doesn't have the latest word and converting it to a readable text will disrupt any special formatting you might have saved. That being said, certainly we will not be turning down these submissions and personally, any editor who would is shooting themselves in the foot. It would make our lives easier (and yours) if we can read a text exactly as how you intended it.