Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Poet Mari Peti's latest collection of poems: Amytis

Amytis. A collection of poems / 'n versameling verse by Marí Peté (umSinsi Press):
"Marí's poems are like stones dropped in a pond. She writes in between the ripples.  Her images splash into our faces and her rhythms lap at our feet." - Dorian Haarhoff

The book's title Amytis (also the title of the first poem in the book) refers to the beloved wife of King Nebuchadnezzar, who pined, after marriage, for her lush native land, and for whom the king constructed the hanging gardens of Babylon.

In this collection of poetry Marí Peté explores dreamscapes, everyday experiences, and the thin membrane between these two states of being.  In many of her poems she weaves connections between the realms of Nature and Spirit.  In contrasting mood, writing in Iscamtho or Tsotsitaal (an urban South African street dialect), Peté takes the reader on alternative guided tours of her home city Durban ("Umgeni Road", "Durban Taxi", "Local is Lekker"). 

A prominent theme which runs through the volume is the poet's attempt to capture "that moment when the bird sings / Very close to the music of what happens" (Seamus Heany) -- whether it be the moment when a "small stirring beneath inland sea" sets in motion the formation of a cave (in "Four Elements"), or "the moment the sun shifts over the spine of the earth" when an armadillo is dreamt into being (in "Beneath a Fig Tree"), or "the moment a hiker in a forest dreams of a shrine" that makes "gravel waves ripple" (in "Stream").

The reader will find various contemplations on kinship (what Mary Oliver calls "your place in the family of things").  In a sense the work becomes a networked conversation -- voices that emerge are, amongst others, mystical theologian Thomas Berry; spiritual scientists Michael Faraday and Albert Einstein; eastern philosopher Tao Te Ching; and Old Testament characters Noah and Sarah.  References to praying mantises, dassies and geckoes, illuminate "the voice of the infinite in the small" (Sir Laurens van der Post).  This conversation culminates in a multi-layered poem entitled "The Great Echo".

Two thirds of the poems are written in English and the remainder in Afrikaans.

"A sensual storyteller, Marí Peté shifts effortlessly between English and Afrikaans. Layer upon layer, subtle lines unfurl into imaginative explorations of the sacred in everyday life." - Michelle McGrane, LitNet
ABOUT THE POET   Durban poet Marí Peté grew up on the Eastern Highveld of South Africa and has worked in e-learning at the Durban University of Technology since 1994.  Over a period of twenty years her poems have appeared in a number of literary journals.  Her first volume of poetry entitled Begin was published by umSinsi Press in 2002.  She was the winner of the Woordgilde poetry competition in 2005.  Marí Peté and Bianca Bothma edited the book "Look at me. Women artists and Poets Advocate Children's Rights" (Art for Humanity, Durban).

For more info and to subscribe to their newsletter: http://www.nlsa.ac.za/NLSA/centreforthebook

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