Through Vangi-tinted glasses

Perspectives from an African

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





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.




broken door January 13, 2015

broken door

on a taxi yesterday

I met a grey haired ghost with a rumbling silence

swollen, her belly brewed a hushed anger

a stillness of breaths

that remembered promises and children.

She told me of a dream she once had

a country she once carried.

she told me of twenty six days of night

how she imagined the sun and the sky

lay dreaming on a cement wetness

fought memories of a broken door 

her babies’ screams

one was five, the other three.

she could not allow herself to think of them

of what had happened to them.

she did not cry

nor was she cold

she could not tell me when exactly her womb had turned to lead

only that countries and children are a sorrow

worse than dying


going to war – a poem for the akward girl in a little blue dress January 5, 2015

going to war

you will learn to wear words

the way soldiers hold up shields

know that you are different

a tragedy of dark

and fat

in a world of skinny yellow bones

you will have two choices

cower into a hole

eat, drink, sleep

your hurt away

build walls

keeping in a cold

sharper than loneliness

or you will carve a sword

out of talent and character

fight insecurities dressed as dragons

inherited from mother to daughter

to that little girl who

didn’t know any different

playgrounds are our first 

taste of war

words shot into the sky

only those who learn love early

will know the armour it takes to survive


in the Friday afternoon queue June 5, 2014

Filed under: #fortheloveofpoetry,Poems by Vangi — Vangi Gantsho @ 21:06
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In the Friday afternoon queue

a woman eats a sandwich
just bread. no butter. no milk
another keeps asking me the time
she has to fetch her granddaughter from crèche
says she had to wait for her madam to come back from work
couldn’t leave the children by themselves

i recognize Mme Gladys, a few people ahead of me
she works as a teller at the BP garage
her husband left her sometime last year
after she had her ovaries removed
said he couldn’t be with someone
who wouldn’t be able to have children

he is sixty one
they have two boys and a daughter

in the past thirty minutes
only one taxi has passed
Mme Gladys is now at the front of the queue
this makes me happy
she’s been through so much already

there are only two men in this line
many men walk past
all in some kind of a rush
Some carrying black plastic bags
i remember that it’s Friday

if a taxi doesn’t come soon
i will be late for my date

feels quite insignificant though
considering these women
who have spent all day cleaning
and ironing

they still need to cook
and wash their grandchildren.
service their men, maybe


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