FELLOW authors and good friends Virgil Johnson and Angelique Simons from Gerald Smith, Uitenhage recently published their first Afrikaans poetry collection in the hope that it will encourage and inspire their community which is flooded with substance abuse, unemployment, poverty, and crime.
Johnson who started writing poems in grade seven has always had a desire for literature.
“I have always had a huge imagination. When I was younger, I even tried to write my own version of the movie Rambo 3,” said Johnson.
His passion and interesting ideas led Johnson to collaborate with Simons to publish their first anthology titled ‘Verraad Sonder Rigting’ which translates to ‘Betrayal Without Direction’ in June.
The poetry collection which consists of 40 poems was published by the National Library of South Africa (NLSA).
Johnson said his poems in the book focused on various genres but mostly inspiration, spirituality, heritage, and politics.
His favourite poem in the anthology is ‘Die bosmeisie’ which translates to ‘The forest girl’, is about a single mother who has six children and is struggling to raise them on her own.
“Die bosmeisie is my favourite poem because despite the woman’s struggles and trauma, her experience made her stronger,” said Johnson.
In August, their hard work paid off when ‘Verraad Sonder Rigting’ won the African Authors Award.
“I felt overwhelmed when we won the African Authors Award last month. It was an honour to win this award,” said Johnson.
Johson hopes that by reading his debut anthology, readers will feel motivated and inspired.
Simons, who is the co-author of the poetry collection, first started writing poems 13-years-ago while working as a nanny.
She said one day while mopping the floor at work she began thinking about the mindset of those affected by poverty, which was something she thought about quite often.
Suddenly Simons felt the strong urge to write about her thoughts, so she dropped the mop and ran to her employer’s study room to grab a piece of paper and pen.
On that day Simons wrote her first poem titled ‘As a man thinks so is he’.
Simons who is currently working on her second poetry collection which will be released next year said her poems in the poetry collection ‘Verraad Sonder Rigting’ acts as a voice to break the silence by raising a standard in her community which is flooded with substance abuse, unemployment, poverty and crime.
“The poems in the book are messages of hope to inspire and motivate young men, women, and the youth. The poems also focus on encouraging young people to break free from their comfort zones and start doing things for themselves. Lastly, the poems remind people that with God all things are possible,” said Simons.
One of the poems featured in the poetry collection titled ‘Suid- Afrika hoekom? As jy kleurling dink’ which translates to ‘South Africa, why? When you think Coloured’ was inspired by deep painful emotions which Simons experienced first-hand as a coloured person in South Africa.
“Coloured people are often misrepresented on the news and on social media. We constantly have to battle with the ignorance concerning our culture, heritage and identity,” said Simons.
With regard to winning the African Authors Award, Simons said it was overwhelming and exciting when their book won an award.
“It really was a surprise because this was my first published anthology and I really did not expect it at all. I give all the glory and honour to my heavenly Father,” said Simons.
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