Poetry, Photography and a Pug

by | Apr 1, 2011 | Arts and Culture, Johannesburg, Melville and Surrounds | 18 comments

Last night I attended the Melville Photographic and Poetry Exhibition at the Melville Visitors Centre. The exhibition featured about half a dozen photographers and half a dozen poets. The artists vary widely in their subject matter, professional backgrounds, and ethnic heritage, but share one thing in common — they live and/or work in Melville.

I’m not sure I’ve ever experienced this much creativity in a single building before.

That is indeed a clown in the middle of the room. The writing on the clown’s chest is a poem by poet/photographer Pierre du Toit, who lives two houses down from Joe and me. Sorry clown fans — this act is not for sale.

One of my favorite photos at the exhibition: “Shot for Celtel – Kenya,” by Andrew Bannister.

My favorite exhibition guest. Only in Melville.

Haiku by poet Peter Fincham. Each poet did a reading of his or her work (in Peter’s case, actor Tony Higgins read his haikus for him), and also created a visual poetic display. I’ve flipped this photo for easy reading, but Peter actually wrote the haiku vertically down the side of the painting.

“Melville My Home,” by Peter Magubane. Magubane is one of South Africa’s most famous living photographers. Standing next to the photo is my friend Chris Green, who made an interesting discovery just moments before I took this picture.
The white car in the middle of the photo is Chris’.

That’s Peter Magubane in the center, wearing a green shirt. Unfortunately I didn’t get the chance to meet him before he slipped away.

A lady and her pug check out photos taken by the finest photojournalist in Melville — Joe!

Phillippa Yaa Devilliers reads her poem to a rapt audience.

I must admit that poetry has never been my thing. I struggle to read and understand it. But for some reason — maybe it was atmosphere in the Visitors Centre, or my feelings about Melville, or the amazing talent of the artists (or perhaps all three) — I was really moved by these readings.

One of the last performers of the evening was Eric Miyeni, a Soweto-born writer/actor/photographer/jack-of-all-trades. As he began to read his poem, “I Did You Wrong,” I slowly dropped my camera and felt everything fall away. Here are the last few stanzas of the poem (you can find the whole thing in Eric’s book, Poetic Journey):

I did you wrong
Because I was in such a hurry to watch you grow
I never left you alone to dictate a pace of your own

I did you wrong
Because I loved you with so much heat
I burnt your space to love me back

I did you wrong
Because I loved you so much
I could not be secure enough to trust you with my eyes closed

I did you wrong
Because I said I would take you away to lover’s land
But look, I took out the map to hell and played navigator

I did you wrong my love
Because I could love you right, now
But your love is gone and I am here, alone, clutching at phantoms in the dark

Another first for me — the first time I’ve ever cried during a poetry reading.

This picture epitomizes Melville. Marie-Lais Emond, director of the Melville Visitors Centre, frolicing in front of “Salvia Africana Caerulea,” a photo by Judd Kirkel.

The exhibition will be up for the next few weeks so it’s not too late to check it out. The Melville Visitors Centre is at the corner of 7th Street and 1st Avenue.


  1. Mia

    Thank you, it almost feels like I joined you at the exhibition. There is something raw and real about Melville. That’s why it, all the treasures you are discovering, can bring tears.

    And pugs make me giggle, every time.

    • 2summers

      Thanks so much for the lovely comment, Mia.

  2. Slowvelder

    It’s not often that I laugh so much that I snort, and then have a few delicate tears when I read a blog post. That pug photo is just brilliant – I’m sure people would pay you good money for that picture – I really wasn’t expecting it there and it made me snort – yes – and I don’t snort! You can guess when I had my tears… Brilliant poem.
    Thanks for the emotional exercise 🙂

    • 2summers

      I’m so glad I made you snort!

  3. lisa@notesfromafrica

    Looks like there are some really talented folks in Melville. Thanks for sharing what sounds like a very special evening.

    That dog is very funny!

  4. Sue Wilson

    found your post thru The Slowvelder….
    Thanks for the heads up – I will definitely visit this exhibition – looks wonderful.
    Your photos are great and I LOVE the last one by Judd Kirkel

    • 2summers

      Thanks so much for reading! Enjoy the exhibition. Do you live in Melville?

  5. Kathryn McCullough

    As both an artist and poet, I’m sure I would have loved the event. Thanks for sharing!

    • 2summers

      Kathy, you would have been all over this. You would LOVE Melville. Hope you can come visit someday!

  6. Tilly Bud

    Great post. Loved the pug.

  7. eremophila

    What a fabulous blend of artistic talent! You’ve made it sound a very special evening – wish I could have been there, especially to hear that evocative poem.
    The beautiful haikus got lost following after the pug! A very hard act to follow….what do they say….no animals and no children….ha!

    • 2summers

      There was a whole series of haikus, each about a different season of the year. They were really beautiful! The paintings Peter did are nice too.

  8. sarsm

    Hearing a poem is so much different to reading a poem, I think.

    Beautiful pictures.

    • 2summers

      Most definitely. I can’t recreate in words what it felt like when Eric was reading that poem.

  9. Fidel

    LOL, I’m such a man. Had to look closely at the lady with the pug picture. Thought that was a very nice butt, but, it was just her handbag. LOL

    Was it the poem itself that made you cry, or the way the poet recited it?

    • 2summers

      Both, I guess. I really related to the words.

  10. Mike

    I’m really sorry I missed the opening so I’d better get there this weekend.

    And what a lovely colourful picture of ML. Makes you think of San Francisco doesn’t it?

    • 2summers

      Thanks for reading, Mike. I hope you enjoy the exhibition.


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