Book published for women by women brings a sense of diversity.

Makhosazana Xaba launched Our Worlds, Our Words, an anthology of poetry by black South African women at Wits University on Tuesday, August 27.

Our Worlds, Our Words was edited and compiled by Xaba, a poet herself, to unpack the meaning of language and its role in constructing the identity of the 23 contributors. The anthology is a collection of poems and essays produced between 2000 and 2018, organised under the themes of perspectives, journeys and aspects.

Nine of the contributors including Xaba, Phillipa Yaa de Villiers, Tereska Muishond, Napo Masheane, Makgano Mamabolo, and Myseha Jenkins spoke at the launch as part of a panel discussion.

Masheane started her two minute presentation with powerful spoken words in Sesotho reflecting how she identifies herself. “Whenever I get a script or poem in English, I try to find words in my mother-tongue to make sure the essence of English speaks my Sotho. It becomes very difficult to translate certain words because they are what they are,” she said.

Muishond, a Wits honours graduate in creative writing, explained why she started writing poetry in 2004. “I was the only woman talking about coloured issues. It didn’t sit well with me because it’s a daunting subject, and it also reinforced my minority issues, so I decided to write about that. My journey was that I discovered other black and coloured female poets who were talking about coloured issues,” Muishond said.

Muishond said she was writing only in English until she discovered Diana Ferris’s Afrikaans poetry. It was then she started writing in both languages.

“When I discovered her work, that was my entry into writing in Afrikaans,” she told the audience. “My relationship with the language was a very troublesome one. I grew up in my teens and discovered that the language causes so much pain, and I refused to speak it. It’s not something you can just let go of,” she said.

Sessional lecturer Dr Moshibudi Motemele, who attended the launch, told Wits Vuvuzela that she was happy to hear that the book will be introduced into the Wits creative writing programme at Wits.

“It will disrupt seven years of indoctrination. They will be the first ones to make an original contribution, because black women are not done”, Motemele said.

The event was hosted by the Wits Institute for Social and Economic Research (WiSER), UKZN Press and Governing Intimacies Project.

FEATURED IMAGE: Makhosazana Xaba (extreme right) answering questions from the audience at the Our Words, Our Worlds book launch at Wits University. Photo: Khomotso Makgabutlane