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Patricia Schonstein

@ Sunday Times Books LIVE

Lucinda Jolly reviews the Africa! Poetry anthologies

One of Patricia Schonstein’s ‘Found Poems’ in the anthology Africa Ablaze!  is crafted from a question posed to a former Rhodesian soldier about poetry and war.

The poem, which takes place in Bulawayo airport’s departure lounge, is formulated around two extreme responses – the poet’s and the soldier’s – as to whether poetry has the capacity to stop war.

It’s a dark, humorous, even absurd interaction around deadly serious subject matter. It reflects the poet’s absolute belief that poetry can be transformational, alongside a total denial of this notion by the soldier.

You hear the soldier’s sarcastic bark, ‘Should we have waved Tennyson under their noses?’ followed by a dismissive brush off, ‘Give me a break, Lady!’

Schonstein, an established author of award-winning novels, considers herself a poet first. In her view, it’s often a poem which speaks to us during the dark night of the soul or within an experience of epiphany.

Her belief in the transformational qualities of poetry on the collective unconscious has given birth to three anthologies of poems ‘touched by Africa’ in the start of a proposed series of six.

Each anthology comprises a wide range of voices from Nobel Laureates to anonymous pieces, in a spread from Antiquity to the present time.  They cover an extensive landscape of love, loss, exile, journeys, landscape and war.

‘I think poetry is so healing and so good. It keeps you in touch with your deepest parts. I would like to see everyone with these anthologies,’ she says.

The philanthropic spin off of the anthologies is that a percentage of the profits are allocated to creating books for children. The first one, Maggie Mango and Scottie has already been produced.

 

Found poem: Do you think you can stop war with poetry?
Bulawayo airport departure lounge
Zimbabwe 2008
Former soldier of the Rhodesian Light Infantry
In response to a question posed by Patricia Schonstein

 

Stop war with poetry?
Oh fuck!

Should we have waved Tennyson under their noses?
Said: Okay you fuckers!
Just put those AKs down a wee-moment
While I read you this, this … these few rhyming couplets.

Give me a break, Lady.
Go away for Chris’sake.

Africa! My Africa! An anthology of poems
ISBN 978-1-874915-20-1
“Reading this collection I feel that I’m there, in Africa.”
– Birgitta Wallin, Editor, Karavan, Sweden

Africa Ablaze! Poems & prose pieces of war & civil conflict
ISBN 978-1-874915-19-5
“A greatly admirable collection of wide-ranging, hard-hitting writing.”
– Jay Heale, Bookchat

Heart of Africa! Poems of love, loss & longing
ISBN 978-0-620-60850-3
“This is an impressive and amazing anthology.”
– Gorry Bowes Taylor, Fine Music Radio

Available from African Sun Press
afpress@iafrica.com

Image: The Soldier Drinks by Marc Chagall

 

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