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”


My Love Letter to Poetry: Q Malewezi February 4, 2016

I first met Qabaniso at Poetry Africa in 2014. He arrived in a suit and was a breath of fresh air because he didn’t take himself too seriously.  Also, his poetry just blew my mind and I am a collector of beautiful poetry.

Q is preparing to launch his album People at BICC in Lilongwe on the 2nd of April and I am so pleased to be one of the featured artists.  As a build up to #FillUpBICC, I asked Q a few questions so you can get to know him too.




1.   Do you remember your first ever poetry experience? Not performance, the first poem to move you. What was it, where were you and what made it memorable?

My first poetry experience was in 1997 when I was in high school in Mafikeng. It was poem by my brother in law titled “This Heap of Bones”. It was about a man’s experiences searching for his rib. The way he described each one he tried was vivid. I was amazed at how he could link the attributes of the ribs to people’s.

2.  Do you remember the first poem you ever wrote? If yes, please share it or what it was about.

The first poem I wrote was “Soul Kiss”. It was about a couple with a drinking problem and the hurtful things they would say to each other.


3.  Your first poetry performance… When, where and how did it go?

My first poetry performance was in the U.K at the Brighton University. They had an event by the African-Caribbean society. I performed “Dearest Child” which was originally a song we had done as Real Elements, a Malawian hip hop I was part of at the time. It went very well. I got a standing ovation.


4.  One poet who has influenced your voice.

One poet who has influenced my voice is late Oscar Brown Junior. I love the impact of his simplicity.


5. I’ve been seeing the hashtag #ZamaZothwe everywhere, what does it mean and (how) is that related to the title of your album?

#ZathuZomwe means “our own”. It is a very common saying in Malawi to express sentiments of ownership and pride.


6.  Tell me a bit about your journey to People. The process, the poems, the producing… How did we get here?

The journey “People” has been very interesting. Realising that not every poem that works for performance will work for recording. I have had to write specifically for the recording and also adapt some older poems for the same reason. The title of the album went through so many changes but I eventually arrived at “People” which is also a poem on the album. I am also a music producer and sound engineer and know I know how it feels like to be on the other side of the booth.

7.  You’re creating history here, is Malawi ready for a spoken word album release of this magnitude? (Why?)

I don’t know if Malawi is ready or not for an event of this magnitude. There is only one way to find out. It is very ambitious to try to fill a 1400 seat auditorium. It is scary actually but then it wouldn’t be worth it if it didn’t scare me.


8.  Why should people come out to BICC on the 2nd? What do you have in store for them?

People should come to BICC on the 2nd of April because it will be a freaking awesome experience. The line-up is out of this world. The stories each poet is bringing are so unique. Some are challenging and some might contradict each other. That’s the point I guess. As a collective we will make a statement about poetry and art in general and hopefully people in Malawi will see poets differently.

9.  What should people expect from this album? And where can people get copies after the launch?
People should expect something different. A different “voice” in a way. Not a recorded version of a live performance. I am hoping that the album is a unique experience independent of my stage performances.


10.  Tell us 5 interesting things about Qabaniso Malewezi that people don’t know.

1.  I made cheesy euro pop music for a living (At this point, I should mention that Q writes      these really beautiful “Ahhhhhh poems”. Maybe I’ll get him to send us a podcast of a        few in the coming weeks…. Just because… Ahhhhh )


2.     I wanted to be a priest

3.     I am obsessed with symmetry and exactness

4.     I am a nervous wreck before performing (I can compete with Napo on this one)

5.     I get nervous flying over water  

People will be available from Q’s website so please support this rising sun!



Check out his Youtube links and like his page on Facebook!





socks January 31, 2016

Also from the December poetry challenge:



I don’t remember when I learned

the language of brown breasts

perhaps it was from peeling potatoes

at my uncle’s wedding


I was nine

entering a secret society

listening to Ma’Xipu whisper

that Nolwazi’s father had found a new family

in Rustenburg, while working in the mines


when Mam’September came back

from stirring the samp

they changed the subject

to Mam’Liwana, whose husband had died two weeks ago

apparently he had been ill for quite some time

before he came home.

she was sick too, they said


Nowelile, named the village drunk

was my favourite

she had twelve children with different fathers

she spoke to everyone, never behind their backs

seemed too busy to care

of the holes in other women’s socks

she washed dishes to feed her children

asked only for the additional drink


Nowelile was scorned by the women

who appeared to me, a barren of mules


deeply devoted to men who considered them



she was always the kind of brown breasts

I wanted to grow into

a life too full for dutiful waiting


when I was twenty eight, two weeks before my twenty nineth

I learned she had followed the river


her clothes, and socks,

were found on the bank


crazy January 29, 2016

So in December, my dearest, Sarah Godsell, put out a poetry challenge: every day we would get a new word and have to write a poem. here is the poem I wrote for crazy






come to me at high tide

come to me when the moon is full

and the wind is wild

come barefoot

and bruised

come honestly

to me


I am enough shore and rock

to love your coming and going

I do not need to know how long you will stay

or how far you will go


your love for the moon

does not threaten me

how you two dance and speak

a language I do not understand

does not break us


for now

all I need

is to know that you will come back


that you will find a way

through your storms and my crazy

through the fog and maybe

that you will trust me with your raging

with your wanting


and that when I sleep

at the bottom of your bed

if only for those moments


I will be yours

and you will be mine





So Q Malewezi is launching his album, Peopleon the 2nd of April!!! And guess who’s making the trip… Yep! I couldn’t be more excited to meet the land of the rising sun.

Also supporting Q as he makes history (coz this is going to be EPIC!!!):  Benedicto Okoma Atani Malunga, Julius Jules Banda Jr., Phindu Zaie BandaManto Wamantology, Sabrina Amy Tambala, Robert Chiwamba and Menes la Plume.


Malewezi banner


Also… We may or may not be doing workshops in and around Lilongwe in the week leading up to the 2nd…

So if you are in Malawi… Do BEST!!!  And if you’ve always wanted to go but was waiting for the right time… I’m just saying!


I can’t wait to meet you Malawi!! Woop Woop!!!



Malewezi Poster



Pretoria: South African poet, writer, cultural activist, Vangi Gantsho, will be launching her debut poetry collection: Undressing in front of the window with Protea Bookshop.



Cover no blurb.indd

Saturday, 06 June 2015

Protea Book Store: 1067 Burnett Street, Hatfield. Pretoria

13:30 for 14:00

RSVP: or 012 362 3444 before/on 04 June 2015

The collection is foreword by the renowned freedom fighter and poet Dr Don Mattera and edited by South African Literary Award for Poetry 2011 recipient, Phillipa Yaa De Villiers. Mattera sums this important piece of literature up by saying: “Vangile’s quest – like so many critical and conscious young scribes, appears to want to jerk us into awareness of the hurt they are experiencing; the multitudinous social, political, economic and religious challenges they have to countenance: drugs, alcohol and disease. The poems reflect these concerns”.

Gantsho, who has just returned from a month-long poetry and cultural exchange in Washington DC and New York, will be sharing poems from Undressing in front of the window, alongside poets and musicians, including Noxolo Hlatshwayo and Makhafula Vilakazi.

Cover by Tanya Pretorius of Thursday's Cat

Cover by Tanya Pretorius of Thursday’s Cat



Undressing in front of the Window - a collection of poems by Vangi Gantsho

Undressing in front of the Window – a collection of poems by Vangi Gantsho

The journey to this collection has not been without many challenges, and in hindsight, I realise that the journey to Vangi has been equally filled with ups and downs.  But finally… Here we are!!!

It is with great pleasure that I introduce Undressing in front of the window – A collection of poems By Vangi Gantsho.

“The need and the quest to be listened to, and to be understood and valued as a serious-minded poet, is the deep-lying, and unuttered plea of every poet. Vangile Gantsho is no different; her works ring true as a testimony. This biographical anthology, despite traces of her stoic mettle and strong character, underscore that deep-lying, unuttered plea to be listened to and valued.” – Tamkhulu Don Mattera

I really am delighted to share this work with everyone.  It contains older poems such as I expect more from you, Talking Frankly and In the company of royals; as well as newer pieces like I will remember this forever and My favourite pair of All-Stars.  I believe in it with all my heart and have been so incredibly blessed to have the most amazing people walk with me on this journey.  Undressing in front of the Window has been edited by Phillippa Yaa De Villiers, proofread by Gillian Godsell and reviewed by former South African journalist, Miranda Strydom and award-winning musician, Gloria Bosman.  The beautiful cover was created by the talented Tanya Pretorius from Thursday’s Cat, from a photo originally taken by the photo therapist, Saddi Khali.

Watch this space for release dates!!!

Both electronic and physical copies will be available for sale from mid-May and I will be carrying a few copies with me on my Azania to DC tour. Undressing in front of the Window will also be available at various Protea Books across South Africa.




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