Gendered Landscape/Landskap in South African Poetry Maria Paola Guarducci, Roma Tre Francesca Terrenato, Sapienza South African veld Vlakplaas cemetery A bantustan “Borders and edges of territory and language, home and body, land and water have always offered some of the most attractive hideouts for women writers who have long understood that the secret might be simply to let the other in or to sift through whatever flotsam washes up.” (Jo Shapcott, Confounding Geography, in Contemporary Women’s Poetry, 45) Ingrid Jonker (1933-1965) I. Jonker, Escape (Ontvlugting, 1956) From this Valkenburg have I run away And in my thoughts return to Gordon’s Bay: I play with tadpoles swimming free Carve swastikas in a red krantz-tree I am the dog that slinks from beach to beach Barks dumb-alone against the evening breeze I am the gull that swoops in famished flights To serve up meals of long-dead nights The god who shaped you from the wind and dew To find fulfillment of my pain in you: Washed out my body lies in weed and grass In all the places where we once did pass. Antjie Krog (1952) A. Krog, Paternoster (Paternoster, 1995) I stand on a massive rock in the sea at Paternoster the sea beats strips of light-green foam into the air fearless I stare down every bloody damn wave in the gut as it breaks the rock quakes under my soles my upper leg muscles bulge my pelvis casts out its acquired resigned tilt Like hell! I am rock I am stone I am dune distinct my tits hiss a copper kettle sound my hands clasp Moord Bay and Bek Bay my arms tear ecstatically past my head: I am I am god hears me a free fucking woman District Six (Capetown) in the old days and a bilingual apartheid board Ronelda Kamfer (1981) A fishermen’s village in Kassiesbaai R. Kamfer, retelling 2 (oorvertel 2) (2011) a woman lived here Mad Maria she walked with a long rope with her house-keys round the neck one night she died with the keys round the neck the wind broke her neck you Capetonians mos say die son sien alles here it's the people who see everything I'm not crying about apartheid I'm crying because you youngsters only hear about District 6 I could still smell the St Helena in my granny's hair but brown people are nothing but minstrels slack-jawed sleazebags being brown isn't the shit-shod story the slamse make it out to be and then there's the other story of being bushmen the problem is when you know your family's story and there's no mention of slams and bushmen but you have to say yes yes agreed because stories are all you have the ocean haunts you even when you trek to the desert's edge the ocean is a bitch and she wears red shoes Diana Ferrus (1953) 1815 ca. French caricature engraving: Sara Baartman and her ‘public’ Sara Baartman’s grave – National Heritage site D. Ferrus, A poem for Sara Baartman (1998) I've come to take you home -home, remember the veld? the lush green grass beneath the big oak trees the air is cool there and the sun does not burn. I have made your bed at the foot of the hill, your blankets are covered in buchu and mint, the proteas stand in yellow and white and the water in the stream chuckle sing-songs as it hobbles along over little stones. I have come to wretch you away away from the poking eyes of the man-made monster who lives in the dark with his clutches of imperialism who dissects your body bit by bit who likens your soul to that of Satan and declares himself the ultimate god! (…) I have come to take you home where the ancient mountains shout your name. I. Jonker, Daisies in Namaqualand (Madeliefjes in Namakwaland, 1963) (…) Behind the closed forehead where perhaps a twig still tumbles from a drowned springtime Behind my word killed in action Behind our divided home Behind the heart locked against itself Behind wire fences, camps, locations Behind the silence where foreign languages fall like bells at a funeral Behind our land torn apart sits the green mantis of the veld and dazed we still hear small blue Namaqualand daisy answering something, believing something, knowing something. A. Krog, Land (Grond) under orders from my ancestors you were occupied had I language I could write for you were land my land but me you never wanted no matter how I stretched to lie down in rustling blue gums in cattle lowering horns into Diepvlei rippling the quivering jowls drink in silky tassels in dripping gum in thorn trees that have slid down into emptiness me you never wanted me you could never endure time and again you shook me off you rolled me out land, slowly I became nameless in my mouth now you are fought over negotiated divided paddocked sold stolen mortgaged I want to go underground with you land land that would not have me land that never belonged to me land that I love more fruitlessly than before A. Krog, every day I treat you as if you were mine. After an eighteenth century engraving of Table Mountain (2006) We know that when one crosses the Equator everything becomes wilderness: white becomes black, good becomes bad, culture becomes a kind of barbarism in which nothing has a name: Women throw a tit over the shoulder cannibals, winged lions, vulvas hanging down to the knees one-eye people bark and snakes stand upright in the trees. Nobody will ever believe our relief when, one morning, we saw this table – something simply so miraculously ordinary in the wilderness -something so civilized one at last Could pin a memory there. (…) R. Kamfer, Land (Grond, 2011) once upon a time there was a mountain the mountain fixed the land onto the earth like a mat with stones at the corners there once happened that he who was the mountain lost his concentration a piece of his land then was blown away by the wind so that that specific piece of land could no longer host inhabitants it didn’t have what a land must have for the people R. Kamfer, epilogue Klippenkust (2011) as uncle Bigfish Visser walks on the sand path he stops and looks at the side of the rich he twists his mouth like he was trying to understand but his old face does not allow him he stares at “them” “they” who come for a holiday “they” who paint gouaches and take pictures “they” who think national heritage site means something “they” who eat fish in restaurants and will never see how his mother cried he’s been staring at “them” for years and asking himself what his father had in mind when he made him believe that we are “they” and “they” are we uncle Bigfish Visser has tried to hate “them” but a look at that heavenseawater and he sees that we of his father we who are tugging cracked pieces of shipwrecks with us A. Krog, Country of grief and grace (Land van genade en verdriet, 2000) hear oh hear the voices all the voices of the land all baptised in syllables of blood and belonging this country belongs to the voices of those who live in it this landscape lies at the feet at last of the stories of saffron and amber angel hair and barbs dew and hay and hurt […].