The 4th of June 2014 is a special day. My cherished LiPS will be hosted by A Novel Idea, I was so excited to read the following on A Novel Idea’s Facebook page. “The Durban Live Poets’ Society will be meeting at the store on Wednesday, 4th June. Kobus Moolman will offer work from his latest book. All poets are invited to bring their work along to share, and the evening is open to the public, so feel free to invite your friends & family. Mira’s take-away next door will be open late for us. Please arrive at 6.30 for a 7pm start. There will be coffee, tea & cakes for sale, but we are not licensed, so feel free to BYO.” A Novel Idea is at 157 Rodger Shishi Road (Blair Atholl Road) in Westville – next to the vet.
Oh how I wish that I could be there!! 19 Years ago I started the Durban Live Poets Society (LiPS). During the 6 years that I ran the group (or the group ran me), finding venues was a massive challenge. These were the days before social media, it was a nightmare keeping everyone up to date with when and where the meetings would be held. Only a handful of members had cell phones and / or e-mail. I relied on faxes sent to the ‘what’s on’ sections of local media to get the word out. I can’t count how many cafe’s hosted us, in between we had a few meetings and workshops at my home. LiPS was however determined to survive and grow. This time Tamsyn from a Novel Idea has stepped forward and offered to host the group. Her dynamic creativity is sure to add yet another facet.
This event has filled my head with wonderful memories. Once upon a time in 1994, I had the urge to meet other poets. After searching in vain for an existing group of poets the only option seemed to initiate forming a group myself, the glitch being that up to that point in my life I had successfully convinced myself I am not a leader. Debilitating shyness had always underlined my self-image as the supporting role in all situations. I however motivated myself to step outside my comfort zone this time and placed an ad in the newspaper personals column, calling writers to contact me with a view to forming a merry band of poets.
The first meeting at my home was attended by all of 2 people – Geoff Holley who became a close friend and John, who came empty handed as his alleged poetry was at home on a floppy disc. Geoff and I thereafter joked that John saw our meeting as a dating opportunity to meet poetic ladies. We had another member who I never met, he was agoraphobic and would phone me to share his poetry. When I wasn’t home he would read his work to my Mum and they would discuss poetry and classical music. At this point LiPS may have been dead in the water. I can’t really take the credit for getting LiPS off the ground, the main protagonist was a journalist who contacted me after seeing my personals ad. He knew the owner of Africafe on Smith Street in Durban and suggested that I organise an offical launch of a poetry reading group at Africafe. He then published an article about the launch (pity I’ve lost that clipping). The night of the launch was alive with magic. One by one poets stepped up to the microphone, pulled poetry from their pockets and shared their world with us. Geoff was there along with many others. If I remember correctly Brett Beiles (who subsequently ran the group for a while) was there too. LiPS meetings, which were held at night once a month always inspired and filled me with a lust for life. My spirit and mind left meetings as a night sky exploding with fireworks. No two meetings were ever the same, the group had a life of its own. As a very broke single parent I could never bear the thought of even one poet being excluded due to financial restrictions and so we never charged a membership fee or cover charge. It was not stuffy or academic; it was fun, warm and dynamic. It felt like family, complete with oddballs and vibrant characters. My favourites were the shy poets who nervously revealed glittering thoughts.
During my time with LiPS I put together a collection of postcards featuring poetry of LiPS poets. These sold at various outlets, thus our poetry found its way around the world.
In the year 2000 I moved to Johannesburg, and handed on the baton. Jill, Brett Beiles and I’m not sure how many others have taken a turn at the reins. Danny Naicker is currently at the helm. Each person has brough a new dimension to LiPS, they have imparted a part of themselves. Sadly I have only been in Durbs at the right time to attend one meeting since my move to Gauteng. I will always grateful to the poets for what they added to the sum of me. Even more I am grateful to Brett, Danny and the others who adopted my child and nurtured it to what LiPS is today.
In an old dusty file, I found a poem which I wrote after one of our meetings in the early days.
The Sacred Fire
To the ancient drum
The echo of the pulse
Come from the forest
To gather at the sacred fire
Shed joy and pain
To merge in the flame
Lay down the shield
Join the circle
Pass the gourd
Burn the lie
To extract the word
with nothing to hide
Find the world
word and phrase
I must honour the special people whom I met through LiPS and have since passed away, rest in poetry and peace.
Geoff Holley – You will always be remembered as a dear friend. We danced the “Time Walk”, laughed together and were there for each other during troubled times. You introduced me to the music of Leonard Cohen and Ogden’s Nut Gone Flake. You are missed.
Syd Kitchen – Your music was poetry and your poetry was music. I remember you at Splashy Fen and the wonderful get togethers at Dave & Fran’s home. Thank you for the most amazing night at Java where you shared your music and lyrics. Life “is not for sissies”.
Sean De Waal – Thank you for your dedication to the group and the deeply moving “Poetry for Peace” evening which we organised at the BAT centre on the eve before elections, I wish I could remember where you found that incredible choir.
Danny can be contacted on Cell:- or E-Mail:- danny.naicker@NDEngineering.co.za
For more information about A Novel Idea I wrote this press release for their launch earlier this year.
Update 2/6/14 – I booked a flight to Durbs today and am so excited that I will be at the meeting!!