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Amabookabooka: Poetry in Commotion

Maverick Life

South Africa, Maverick Life

Amabookabooka: Poetry in Commotion

The Amabookabooka guest this episode is poet Karin Schimke, winner of the prestigious Ingrid Jonker Prize for her debut collection of poetry, Bare & Breaking. By JONATHAN ANCER.

Before she won the prestigious Ingrid Jonker Prize, before she was an award-winning poet, before she was a blogger, before she was a columnist, before she wrote non-fiction, before she was a journalist, before she was a mother, today’s Amabookabooka guest was a reader. Karin Schimke is still a reader … and to prove it, she reads some of her poetry. (You should listen to the episode if only to hear Schimke describe what a mountain’s crotch smells like.)

Bare & Breaking is a powerful collection of poetry about a relationship that starts, blossoms and falls apart – it’s about love, loss and coming to terms with loss. The collection won the Ingrid Jonker Prize in 2014 and the judges praised Schimke for “the elegance and precision of her craft in a volume marked by sensuousness and unapologetically erotic and intimate content”.

In this episode of Amabookabooka Schimke recalls the first poem she ever wrote, which she found years later and says it was so appalling “I almost died”. She also talks about what it means to be a poet, and the moment you know when you really are a poet – and why she can no longer deny that she’s a poet.

Schimke also translated Ingrid Jonker’s love letters to Andre Brink from Afrikaans into English for Flame in the Snow. She reads some of the letters – “acts of communication” – and talks about how Jonker inhabited her head during the project – and how she walked to the beach where Jonker committed suicide and imagined the tortured poet walking into the freezing water and just giving up.

With author Margie Orford, Schimke also wrote Fabulously 40 and Beyond – Coming into your power, which is a tongue-in-cheek guide to a mid-life crisis  – and we ask her to reveal her power.

We ask Schimke to make a public service announcement about when amateur poets can inflict their poetry on the world (and when they should just crumple their poem up) and then we probe the dark recesses of her mind in our Sound Effects Rorschach Test.

In addition to reading another All About Writing’s short story of the month challenge, Mervyn Sloman talks about the Book Lounge’s #readinglistforadictator campaign with some suggestions so far being Paul Beatty’s The Sellout and We Need New Names by NoViolet Bulawayo. Tweet @amabookabooka and @book_lounge suggestions for what you think dictators should read. DM

Amabookabooka is a novel podcast about books and the people who write them. It is produced by Jonathan Ancer and Dan Dewes for the Daily Maverick and in partnership with the Book Lounge. You can subscribe to the podcast on iTunes.

Photo: Karin Schimke winner of the  the prestigious Ingrid Jonker Prize is this week’s guest on Amabookabooka.


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