Tonight was the second performance of my visit here in South Africa. We are many, the poets, and easily fill two venues and an entire night of simultaneous readings. There is a
packed audience in The Slave Church, now a museum. I read in front of this pulpit which was shrouded in curtains. The evening is rich in resonance.
It is one year since the “zenophobic attacks” in South Africa and a vigil has been taking place here in Cape Town for those murdered. If there is such a thing as coincidence, Sam Pearce was at the restaurant last night taking respite after being on the vigil. Sam
was downstairs with other refugees, eating while we were celebrating. The last time we met was fifteen years ago in Manchester. She had no idea I would be there and has lived in SA for fifteen years herself. She has come to the slave church tonight.
The resonance with the anniversary of the zenophobic attacks and the depth of history in the slave church fed into my reading and I swear I feel it all take over me. There was lots of laughter on stage but moments of deadly seriousness as poems poured from me like burning waves of molten lava.
It was a beautiful event to be a part of. “It wasn’t you on stage tonight” said a woman
afterwards “the spirit got you and took you. It wasn’t you.” After the event I rushed outside for air. But it was me. I am born to do this, to be this.