Through Vangi-tinted glasses

Perspectives from an African

Review: Seaweed Sky by Sarah Godsell November 19, 2017

Filed under: #fortheloveofpoetry,Uncategorized — Vangi Gantsho @ 21:52

In the title poem of Seaweed Sky, Sarah Godsell asks us to choose between hope and truth. She chooses silence. And openings. Throughout this collection, she invites us into the pockets of silence, carries us through the openings. She allows us into her body and does not hide the holes in her feet and chest and stomach. Godsell’s poetry is a careful deliberate weaving of memory and dreaming, into skin and breasts, crawling and unafraid of being afraid.



Seaweed Sky



Makhosazana Xaba, in the forward, coins the term “Sarah-World”. Godsell creates a magical “Sarah-World” of “Hammerkop” “Assurances of Nothing” and “Wingbeats” that is as real as the world of a mining country (“Marikana in Three Silences”, “Dreams and Death”), wherein seventeen-year olds are killed by their boyfriends (“To Our 17 Year Old”) and feminists are raped (“Quiet”), this collection reads like the diary of an empath, who is sometimes swallowed by her pain. And is still alive.


Godsell is aware of where she comes from in the spectrum that is South Africa, and does not deny any of these parts of herself. She writes her body honestly and bravely, not just as a feminist who is white, also as a woman who is sexual and loving, and a lot of times, feels alone. (“Paris in the Springtime”!) Yet, even in that aloneness, Godsell is constantly holding and creating spaces for the women around her.


“I will not be afraid

I will open my mouth

Let thousands of moths out

To populate the darkness

Make it less lonely”

                                                                                [I Will Not Be Lonely]


This collection is also playful and sensual, the aptness of writing the body. In “Tongue” and “My Fingers and I”, Godsell proves she is certainly not a docile lady. She is one of Angela Carter’s wayward girls, growing. She is temperamental and changing and messy. She is indecisive, does not always choose what is good for her. And that is ok, because she is still alive.


“the calm you set sail with

May not see you


I promise to try

not to sink you.”



Seaweed Sky is a celebration of breath. The kind of poetry that is without ego. It is vulnerable. Godsell, through this collection, leaves the house, eyes puffy from crying, for a glass of wine with her sisters. No makeup, no filter. Just heart. A beautiful first celebration of breath.


“’Choose’ he said, ‘Forward or roots?’

                She floated

‘I choose Up’, she said

‘and angels’


She floated Up

                and Up

Into the seaweed sky”


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