19 October 2010 by Dianne Tipping-Woods

A morning with Myesha Jenkins

Words can be difficult. I can’t find the right ones to either categorise or describe Myesha Jenkins. The official facts are that comes from California but has lived in South Africa for 17 years. And she’s a poet.

These particular words seem totally inadequate- but that’s ok - because I met Myesha at a workshop for women writing about art in South Africa.  She was there to help us, as women writers in South Africa, to find the right words for whatever it is we want to say - especially when writing about the arts.

So while we don’t talk too much about her at this meeting - we do talk a lot about words and poetry - and what stops from getting on with the business of writing sometimes, despite the fact that that’s what we do.

I hadn’t written a poem in at least 10 years, although I do love poetry and find reading work by South Africa’s poets the most wonderful way to explore Mzansi. Our poets write about our country, our identities, or geography, our history, our struggles and our dreams.

Before long, she has us - a group of 8 women writers who’ve never met before - writing poetry and - what’s even more amazing - sharing it with each other! I still don’t know how she managed it - something in the tone of her voice perhaps, or the way she seems so completely comfortable with what she does that it rubs off on us?

I hadn’t written a poem in at least 10 years, although I do love poetry and find reading work by South Africa’s poets the most wonderful way to explore Mzansi. Our poets write about our country, our identities, or geography, our history, our struggles and our dreams.

And by the end of the morning - I had met another 7 poets - Thokiso, Dudu, Sipha, Makwena, Mandy, Marta and Rami. I already knew these women could write - they do so for various newspapers and magazines - but their poems were powerful in ways that I hadn’t anticipated. They wrote about young urban experiences in South Africa, about music, about love, about who they are and, some of what’s important to them. It gave me a new perspective on my colleagues. While the workshop helped free my own creativity (as it was designed to) I hadn’t anticipated leaving it feeling so inspired by my colleagues and the pictures they painted with their words.

While I have to find out if they’d let me share some of their work here - have a look at some of South Africa’s better known poetry so long: South African poetry. What do you think?

Category: Arts & Entertainment

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