Deur die oog van die naald | Poetry & Poetry Anthologies
“I still find it ironic – and at times it was painfully uncomfortable for me – that even in the most difficult times I wrote poetry in Afrikaans, and expressed my deepest pain in it.”
These are the words of Mathews Phosa, who speaks nine languages, about the language in which he was educated at school, and which he considers a sort of mother tongue in his life.
Fortunately his poetry has never been seen as a way of attempting to make “the language of the oppressor” popular. Poetry has a way of breaking through ideological barriers and touching hearts.
Today Afrikaans, together with the other indigenous languages, is free, and the poet makes an appeal: “Let us work our tongues loose, so that through our beautiful, raw, rhythmic languages we can help heal the wounds of the past.” Due to his busy political program Mathews Phosa describes himself as a “cigarette box and notepaper poet” these days. Scrawled on the back of a cigarette box is the following: “… one man’s freedom is not the other man’s enslavement… apartheid must come to an end for everyone… white apartheid is as bad as black apartheid”. His poems are a kind of shorthand through which deeply hidden emotions find expression: humiliation, rage, resistance, triumph, and eventually humbling oneself in prayer.
The revised edition contains thirteen new poems that he wrote specially for this collection.