Saturday, May 28, 2016


I've woken to a CNN focus on travel. The man says traveling for leisure can positively affect your heart health but traveling for business has shown long term effects on your circadian rhythms beyond just the 5 day reconfiguration your body undertakes. He spoke of ageing and stress but added that travellers from Africa have shown the least amount of stress compared to Europeans ... pheeew.

I love travel but I know that what I'm drawn to is the destination not the travel itself as it can quite long and uncomfortable. On average flying from southern Africa means I generally spend no less than 8/10 hours to get to my first point of connection, off the continent. I almost always get an aisle seat so I can walk around, my backpack is filled with a microcosm of resources to meet my immediate needs and mitigate stress - girly toiletries, books, a notepad and pad, ear plugs for pressure pain, a warm and zipless jacket, support letters for immigration, nuts etc. I happen to love meat, a bit too much really, but I never eat meat when flying. I'm always suddenly, temporarily a vegetarian. I have flown all around the world and it is often the better option taste wise. I try to drink lots of water though I've never taken to the taste when I'm not thirsty.

I'm currently in Tallinn in Estonia at Headread (Good lines) festival. It is a relatively small and young festival but with a beautiful setting and wonderful team.

The news says the weather has gone wonky and in Germany and France children have been struck by lightening. Sorry, I know I can be a little random but try to follow - I have CNN in the background while I type this.

Back to Headread Donna Leon was here which was cool as I enjoy her Venice based detective's endless search for justice, Margot Henderson is such a fantastic storyteller, Ann Freud who is a wonderful poet and fine artist has become a sat friend (I admit I was such a fan of her father that I was childishly excited to meet but our conversations over poetry and teaching have rightly shifted my focus to where it should have been to begin with).

Estonians can be quite stoic and reserved. They come in their numbers to the festival but are hesitant to ask questions or really to show any emotion - I understand that even linguistically there is a limited range of emotional expressions - but once they get going you're good. Enter the charming Jason Goodwin without whom I would have felt a tad naked on the stage.  An hour is quite a chunk of time to listen to my our voice. My hour reading and conversation was made all the more fun and comfortable by his presence.

I head home soon with a long list of writers - someone of whom if I'm honest I'd never heard of - to read. The guy on CNN didn't talk about this as a benefit of frequent travel but it is. In Setswana we say 'to travel is to see' but that see means more than seeing, it implies an engagement with one's new environment.

Thursday, March 31, 2016


used to think I was the strangest person in the world but then I thought there are so many people in the world, there must be someone just like me who feels bizarre and flawed in the same ways I do. I would imagine her, and imagine that she must be out there thinking of me too. Well, I hope that if you are out there and read this and know that, yes, it's true I'm here, and I'm just as strange as you.”

- Frida Kahlo

I get asked to speak or weigh in on issues outside of my area of expertise - whatever mysterious thing that may be - and I almost always begin by saying no. to myself. and then look for reasons to say yes. If they present themselves well enough then I may very well wander down some unfamiliar road even if all I end up doing is asking a bunch of questions out loud instead.

I was asked in 2015 to speak at the first ever TEDxGaborone (Botswana). Daunting is the word that comes to mind. The idea was to speak on imagination and I did so, not because I felt comfortable doing so but because I have trafficked in it for the better part of decade and figured that if nothing else I could chat my way through that ...history.

The video can be found here:    The language of imagination: a conversation we dream to ourselves    I hope you'll share your comments below the vid on you tube

Monday, December 14, 2015


To begin with, as any list not using an agreed upon metrics etc, this list is subjective . It is also heavily weighted in favour of those whose efforts I'm aware of. Botswana has no proper networks, no main centres of poetry, most people are still new to the internet or have unreliable access, there is little to no translation of work etc and therefore I am certain there are folks working hard, in languages I don't speak, or away from the cities, main towns and their presses and therefore they may not appear on this list. For these reasons and more, the list is ...incomplete and you can add names in the comments section with a few words on the individual you believe should appear on this list

The below appear in no particular order:

Lauri Kubuitsile (festival/event reviews, book review/s, columnist & blogger)
Legodile Seganabeng & Poetavango (poet, festival organiser & chair, Maun based activists)
Leshie Lovesong (poet, singer/songwriter who has extended her audience to outside our borders)
Drea Chuma (poet, initiator of Christian poetry festival)
Gofa Nfila (literary event logistics for SAUTI Arts)
Moroka Moreri (published and oral poet, Setswana columnist)
Mandisa Mabuthoe (poet, programming within the Maitisong festival & for SAUTI Arts)
One Rabantheng & Phondo Dikgomo (the now defunct "words" slot on GabzFM  every Wednesday)
Thato Ntshabele & the Poets Passport team (poets, hosts of a regularly staged show)
SAUTI Arts and Performance Management (as the boss I know how hard the team works to manage poets all year round, map out trajectories, set up a poetry reading room in the city's public library, mentorship and workshop facilitation, record poets and host live literature events)

Lists are only that. They in no way nullify the work of those working quietly away from the national spotlight but this list attempts to highlight the sweat of those working in this often unforgiving landscape of late or no funding, inconsistent or last minute ticket buyers, no infrastructure etc. 
Here's to you and yours, and here's to 2016.