Sunday, December 27, 2009



Saturday, December 12, 2009

Haidee Kruger on Romancing the Dead

"...It’s just as well I waited before reading Gary Cummiskey’s new poetry chapbook, Romancing the Dead, published by Tearoom Books. Sure, there’s plenty of razorwire, but it’s not the razorwire that will get you. It’s the big, hollow, echoing melancholy below the jagged, surreal surface. Gary’s deadpan surrealism is December on the Highveld, with its blisters of hot tar and endlessly bleached afternoons that hide the sinkholes quietly opening up below.

(And I love the cover, with its austerely retronostalgic look. The design sensibility over at Tearoom Books is totally lovely.)"

First published on Messy Things With Words

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Quote and Analysis

Quote and Analysis

Victoria Williams: 0031

Dear Mr. Lawrence
I've rewritten the parts,
that isn't a sword
This isn't a scabbard
This is a mouth
with soft pinky gums
It can shiver and swallow
and suck your sweet thumb
Dear little mummy's boy
I'll go on top
and soon you'll forget
you're the one with the cock.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Quote and Analysis

Quote and Analysis

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Quote and Analysis

"There are things known and there are things unknown, and in between are the doors." - Jim Morrison rehab.

Internet Porn


Monday, November 30, 2009

The Litchis

Quote and Analysis

"I've noticed that everyone who is for abortion has already been born." - Ronald Reagan

But not reborn, incidentally.

Quote and Analysis

"God does not play dice with the universe." - Albert Einstien

Presumably he does with hair.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Victoria Williams: 0030

Cocks in rubbers
look like tiny bank robbers.
But you shouldn't draw faces on
without permission.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Quote and Analysis

"Give me a museum and I’ll fill it." - Pablo Picasso


Monday, November 23, 2009

Victoria Williams: 0029

The Holiday Diaries

17th August 2003

I was half-conscious at three 'o' clock this morning, still under the influence of a dream about a haunted showerhead ("No, stop jerking that around…don't spray that over here!"). Note to self: Increase male stalking activity upon return home.

My Father thinks we have a ghost. This suspicion is based on the downstairs toilet door opening on its own. Could it be Martin? Sharon? Are we to meet our fate here too? The holiday destination of no return? I always picture ghosts as nineteen-year-old boys with bleeding wounds all over their faces. [Coincidentally, the bedroom door has just opened of its own accord.]

In the afternoon, I experimented with acronyming my name. My best offering to date is:


Which I'm 95% pleased with.

Victoria Williams, Currency Vandal

Click to Enlarge (That's what she said...)

Sunday, November 22, 2009

The Young Anton Krueger

Thursday, November 19, 2009



Wednesday, November 18, 2009


Lord, Faith!
How does the vagina ENDURE?
Life is a big penis.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Soft Jimmy

For Jenny

Jimmy Stewart, named for the pioneering Jamaican scuba diver - the first to conquer the razor-blade that is the East-Antilles reef - and not the American motion picture actor, was born a dwarf. To use a scuba reference, an activity Jimmy's sardine fisherman father had the greatest admiration for but which he never had enough money to himself pursue, at the time of his death he was no taller than Titron 100, the preferred oxygen tank of junior divers the world over.

Because Jimmy's parents were poor fisher folk they could only afford to buy him a fraction of 234 bones needed for his body. Even after taking loans from every loan shark in town they could only purchase 23 bones from the hospital, the majority of which to be housed in his ears.

"It'll have to do. At least he'll be able to hear" his father said.

As a result of his almost complete lack of bones Jimmy's body was incredibly soft, far softer than the softest teddy bear in the Caribbean. Indeed, throughout Jimmy's childhood, his parents would lend him out to people in the neighbourhood with children who had difficulty sleeping at night. After a few minutes of hugging Jimmy these once restless children would be transformed into gentle sleeping lambs.

Parents would often remark: "Jimmy Stewart from Sardine Lane has got the Lord's touch. God bless his bone-less body."

Jimmy was very popular at school. Every child wanted to be friends with this unique boy and to Jimmy's credit he tried to find room in his little heart for each of them. But there was a particular girl, a Sally Marcus from Coral Road, that Jimmy reserved most of his affection for. The two become firm friends the first day of school, when Jimmy helped her find her missing glasses, and in the years since they had become inseparable. What struck Jimmy about Sally was that even after he'd found her glasses that first day and she could see him properly she didn't treat him any differently. To her he was just the helpful boy who had found her glasses and not Soft Jimmy of Sardine Lane.

Jimmy would pick Sally up from her house in Coral Road each day and together they would walk the two kilometres to school. Holidays were no different. Jimmy would show up at Sally's house at dawn, and the two would spend the day trawling Stoneville beach for shells and crabs. One day Sally vowed to Jimmy that she would search Lobster Cove at the other side of the island, where there were rumours of giant counch shells, for a shell big enough to protect his soft body. Jimmy thanked her but turned her offer down, for, in his mind, in Sally, he had already found his giant counch shell.

Then an unfortunate thing happened. Sally began to grow.

Now, of course, most girls grow taller at some point around eleven or twelve, but Sally wasn't just any girl. Her three older sisters, called the Stoneville Beach triplets - even though they were not triplets, formed the formidable defence of the Jamaican amateur basketball champions, the Rockets. So when we say Sally began to grow, we mean that Sally really grew. At the time of her twelfth birthday she was taller than all the students and teachers at her school.

Sally, who had no love for basketball, hated being so tall. And to make matters worse hanging around with Jimmy only made her seem taller to others. Eventually Sally did a very cruel thing and stopped talking to Jimmy altogether. I've paid him back already for finding my glasses, she reasoned to herself.

Jimmy, of course, was hurt and confused. He had done nothing to Sally and couldn't understand why his best friend was no longer talking to him. He would still go over to Sally's house each morning but she would refuse to come out until he left. This continued for a few months until most of Stoneville had forgotten that a dwarf named Jimmy and a long-sighted girl named Sally had ever been friends.

But Jimmy had not forgotten and one lunch break he overheard Sally say to one of her new friends: "My neck is ever so sore. I can't sleep a bit at night. I wish my parents would buy new pillows. It's like sleeping on granite at the moment"

Jimmy then knew why Sally wasn't talking to him anymore. She was just irritable from not getting enough sleep at night. He had seen the babies he'd placated throughout the years behave in exactly the same way.

Jimmy knew exactly what to do. That night he snuck out from his house and climbed up the drainpipe that lead to Sally's bedroom. Then he removed all the stuffing from her pillow, hide it under her bed, and climbed into the pillow-case. He had to wait for more than an hour before Sally came up to her room.

Sally was shocked when her head hit her pillow. It was softest pillow she'd ever rested her head on. Seconds after going to bed, she could feel the pain in her neck begin to ease. She went to bed vowing to thank her mother for finally buying her a new pillow.

Jimmy kept very still while Sally slept. Her head was heavy and rested awkwardly on his bone-less chest, pressing down on his tiny lungs. Though he had difficulty breathing he didn't want to disturb her sleep. Just an hour more, he thought to himself, I give her an hour's more peaceful sleep before I go home.

The next morning Sally woke up feeling the best she had for months. The pain in her neck was completely gone. All thanks to my new pillow, she said out loud. But when Sally picked up her new pillow and hugged it she made a curious discovery. The pillow that was so soft last night was now stiff as cardboard.

The End.

Friday, November 13, 2009


For Rahul Pithouse (born 16/09/09)

I lift up my spade
and fall right to sleep.
The steel cuts though grass
and settles deep.

This ain't the first time
I thread upon this ground.
I've been here before,
my old footprints abound.

The serpents and critters
know well my sole.
They pay me no mind and
let me dig my hole.

It might take me two hours,
might take me three.
Got to dig it such that
it arrives at my knee.

I dig at night
when the sun cannot watch.
I still the dark
with a flask-full of scotch.

Sometimes I hit a root,
othertimes some bone.
The dirt loves company,
never find it alone.

When the mood takes me
I whistle a tune.
While the black earth
I continue to spoon.

I like me a ballad,
I like me a song.
Old time music
helps move it along

I ain't afraid of sweat
but I can't dig all night.
My belly's howling
with hunger and spite.

I unpack a sandwich
I picked up in town.
Found a maggot in it,
got it on markdown

I eat on a pile of dirt
and admire my work.
Done this a million times
and each time I smirk.

There's nothing as pretty
as desolation.
And digging a hole far
from civilization.

Some folks will tell you
a hole ain't but air.
Now for that kind of talk
I don't much care.

A hole is what you gets
when there's nothing else to be got.
Its what you find
when the world begins to blot.

I ain't saying nothing
a sensible man don't know.
But most can't tell
their ass from their elbow.

I pick up my spade
and fall right to sleep.
The steel cuts through dirt
and settles deep.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Quote and Analysis

"Wit is educated insolence." - Aristotle

Looks like someone got zinged.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Little Clit

Twinkle, twinkle, little clit,
How I struggle to find it.
Up above the hole so high,
Hiding like a mouse so shy.
Twinkle, twinkle, little clit,
How I struggle to find it.

Erik Vatne on Romancing the Dead

I was reading Romancing the Dead again tonight. It's such a beautifully produced chapbook. Tearoom Books did a great job.

At the moment I keep coming back to 'Cosmic Debris.' I love a book like this because like a good album one can play one song over and over again before discovering the rest of the record.

There is an effortless and deceptive simplicity to these poems and yet they are like magic spells. I love what I don't know and that's what keeps me returning to these exquisite pieces.

Erik Vatne, author of Cartographies of Silence

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Victoria Williams: 0028

The Holiday Diaries

16th August 2003

The house is small, stone, with a paved garden and is called Kestrel Cottage. According to the visitor's book we are the second family to stay here, the first being a couple named Martin and Sharon. I try to imagine them: she a redhead in white stilettos, with a voice just too loud to be bearable. He a smug software developer who commutes to London each day, with bad hair and a green polyester shirt.

I hope the linen has been thoroughly washed.

My bed is pushed against the left wall of the room, which adjoins our neighbour's house. Having lived in rural isolation for most of my life, semi-detached houses are always a novelty for me. There is but a thin wall dividing me from someone else's life (I just mis-spelt that as wife). Just a layer of plaster keeping me at bay...

Monday, November 9, 2009


I let my mouth do the talking.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Old Cock

There was an old cock who lived in a shoe.
He had so much spunk he didn't know what to do!
So he invited a sock to move inside.
And then slipped her on, slipped her off until he grew tired!

Friday, November 6, 2009

Aryan Kaganof reviews Gary Cummiskey's Romancing the Dead

Gary Cummiskey’s Romancing the Dead: A Sharp Cunt Dripping Honey

by Aryan Kaganof

Pravasan Pillay’s Tearoom Books has published the chapbook of the year.

There’s no escaping it.

The moment you see Gary Cummiskey’s face you start screaming


there is fire in the enema of art

he put it there


not yet free of the dream nor of the memory of when you came to me not wearing panties beneath your light summer dress

but the moment you got on top of me and you saw my face you started screaming

As far as South Africa is concerned a reason for Gary Cummiskey’s neglect may stem from the fact that he spent almost 20 years in Randburg, and by the time he returned to settle down in Sandton, the political situation had changed and so Cummiskey’s surrealist work seemed out of place. Thus Gary had become a marginalised figure as a result of both psychogeographical and cultural factors.

He writes in “European Writers” “Some people became poets after corresponding with European writers. I became a poet after sleeping on a razorblade.”

And this means that Gary is sharp.

He’s busy looking for a magic wand - no strings attached.

Another problem that may account for the relative obscurity of Gary’s work is the difficulty of placing it within the various ‘movement’ categorisations. While Romancing the Dead contains a number of poems dealing with the colonial city scene in Joburg, the rest of his work does not particularly reflect the social context in which it was created.

In the end it boils down to the “Painting”:

I am hungry and dirty.
My feet stink.
I want to brush my teeth.

However, it can also not be ignored that Cummiskey’s illness sometimes made him an extremely difficult person, and most publishers and editors were reluctant to deal with him. For this reason alone Pravasan Pillay must be commended. Despite there being no physical attraction Pillay liked Cummiskey as a friend.

Gary was aware of his outsider status, and openly declared that he did not wish to fit in with any particular group or category. But there is a difference between being an outsider and being marginalised to the point of neglect - and Cummiskey’s work is neglected. (Although Stephen Gray would probably not agree).

Romancing the Dead is a funeral ceremony and all Gary’s sleeping relatives sit on the floor of the bathroom around the bath where his corpse is laid. Once the sleepers have been given the pills to swallow when you left you took them out from your handbag and slipped them back on.

Some people become poets after sleeping with European writers. Gary Cummiskey is a razorblade. Very sharp.


Tearoom Books
isbn 978-0-620-44717-1

First published on Kagablog

Couple on Cake by Jenny Kellerman Pillay

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Fat Blood by Jenny Kellerman Pillay

i retouch my heart
in photoshop
to suit your requirements

my blood is too fat

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Google by Jenny Kellerman Pillay

Why don't you Google me anymore?

Sunday, November 1, 2009

An Interview with Victoria Williams

We have received a number of enquiries about Tearoom Book's English contributor, Victoria Williams. Herewith a short interview with her.

1. Vickie, how would you describe yourself in a personal ad?
Deceptive blonde waitress seeks timid men. Yes, plural. You will need to know how to use a steam iron.

Or if that doesn’t answer the brief:

Waitress, dyed blonde. Interested in and simultaneously repelled by torchbearers, church musicians, moral compasses… I have inherited the family secret, and my womb is a dark and looming octopus, full of explosive nervous conditions. I like cheesecake and am pretty much drunk after half a glass of wine.

2. You used to run the cult website Vicksie's - now offline - in your late teens and early twenties, and many of the pieces found on Tearoom Books have their origin there. Why did you stop maintaining the site? Would you ever consider starting it up again?
It started out as Vicksie (2001) – not Vicksie’s – then progressed to Vicksie-Again (2005), or to give it its full title, RT Web-Site No.7386: Vicksie-Again. I think the last post came in 2006. I stopped maintaining it because, to cut a long story short, there was a horrible breakdown of a relationship that of itself had a pretty horrible underbelly, and by the end we had both read a little Freud and were like two bad-tempered psychoanalysts shining mirrors in each other’s eyes. ‘Projection!’ was the war-cry. Anyway, I was quite miserable for about two years, and my inclination to write sort of petered out. I wouldn’t start it up again purely because I think I write at a different pace and in a different way now; I haven’t quite made sense of the last four years yet, and I’m not prolific enough for the internet anymore.

3. What are currently working on, writing wise? And what are you reading?
Last week I was reading My Childhood by Gorky, before that I was reading some Dostoevsky, before that Turgenev. All the Russian wasn’t intentional; I picked the titles at random from a mug. This week following the same method, I am reading A Woman’s Experience of Sex. Writing wise I have an elaborate plan for some very short stories concerning the same group of characters: a jeweller and a doctor who together steal and sell the jewellery of the dead, a typist with a missing finger, and the jeweller’s tenants who live upstairs where the ceiling leaks. I have to be careful though because elaborate plans usually kill the story before I’ve even begun it.

4. Name five geniuses.
I'd rather not do that.

5. Paul Wessels, the South African writer, poet and publisher, in an email to me, commented on your remarkable ability to balance wit, calmness, and intelligence in your writing. Is this something you think consciously about? How close is your writing voice to your everyday voice?
Ok here is the least pretentious explanation: I wouldn’t call it an ability; I don’t quite have direct control over it. It’s more like a certain note I’m straining to hear and I know when I hit it. It usually requires that I rearrange the words in a sentence a few times before it hangs together in the way I want. That’s about all the insight I have into the mystery at the moment. My everyday voice is quite high and annoying and tries too hard to be nice. I make a sharp distinction between speech and writing. The reason I started writing was my complete dissatisfaction with communicating via speech and body language. I actually prefer post-it notes, though obviously in some situations there is a risk of paper cuts.

6. Could you recommend an album and film for Tearoom Books “readers”?
Probably not, in all honesty. The last movie I saw was Up and I was crying into my Ben and Jerry’s within 20 minutes. I know, I know.

7. Coke or Pepsi/Tea or Coffee? Elaborate.

I used to drink Coke, but switched to Pepsi when Coke was declared illegal. And if anything can make a cup of hot water taste worse than it already does, it’s tea. I stick to coffee. Besides which, not drinking tea is a form of social self-sabotage here, which I find myself powerless to resist.

There is no question 8! Is this some kind of mind trick…?

9. Give us a good pickup line.
Sometimes I feel sorry for people who aren’t your friend.

10. What are you doing tomorrow?

A nine hour shift.

11. Why does everyone suck?
There was a meeting; we all agreed it was more effective than blowing. At the moment everyone sucks but you.

12. Draw a self portrait.

13. What question would you like to ask yourself?
Where did you leave the keys??

~Pravasan Pillay


She handcuffs herself to his compliment

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Friday, October 30, 2009


Her smiles stand in unemployment lines.



Juni Järvi

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Juni Järvi

Juni Järvi is a Swedish musician and also Pretty in Panic's (Jenny Kellerman Pillay) producer. He has a truly amazing grasp of the elements that go into good pop music. Head over to:


Listen in particular to the track "If we just want to". I have played this song to death. It's perfect pop music.





Wednesday, October 28, 2009


She bubble-wraps her gaps.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009



Gary Cummiskey by Jenny Kellerman Pillay

Cock room

I'd prefer cock room over elbow room.



Monday, October 26, 2009

Herbie Popnecker

We don't run a link-type of operation here at Tearoom Books. We're hermits that way. But, if you have the resources, try to find yourself a copy of this:

And, if you have the time, please also visit this page:

Scroll down to the two panels of Herbie at the movies (#5). These panels are as close to a manifesto as Tearoom Books will ever come.

Gary Cummiskey: Extreme Romantic

Aryan Kaganof, in a recent review of Gary Cummiskey and Eva Kowalska's Who was Sinclair Beiles?, drew an insightful parallel between Cummiskey and Beiles and, rightly, highlighted the scandalously fact that Cummiskey remains uncelebrated in South Africa.

This can partly be attributed to a general intellectual laziness. Cummiskey's work is surrealistic and critics, often, erroneously conflate the surreal with strangeness, or, worse still, randomness. Or, else, it is seen in purely instrumental terms, as literary experimentation, word surgery, something that is all method and no meaning. Thus the impulse at the heart of the surrealist enterprise, that moments of truth emerge in the absurd or, more radically, that truth is the absurd, becomes lost. Instead, the surrealist poem becomes a novelty, an eccentricity, something interesting but, ultimately, outside the realm of serious poetry.

Cummiskey’s deadpan and unnerving tone also doesn’t fit neatly into the formulaic and dominant poetry-prize-winning register of lyrical poetry, a register that, I would define, as a type of cuteness-Tourette’s, a cloying faux-naivety. Rather he chooses to see the world through old eyes. The world he sees is not pretty, it is gothic, it is, in the words of Tearoom Books contributor Victoria Williams, a world of "extreme romance".

Cummiskey will, most likely, continue to be ignored in South Africa but if you care about things like originality and truth then you've found your man.

~Pravasan Pillay

Victoria Williams: 0027

The Holiday Diaries

My family's holiday destinations are always chosen at random from a hat. It works like this: My parents write each possible destination on a slip of paper, fold each piece of paper into four, or maybe two, scatter them liberally into the hat, and draw the slip that their fingers find the most tempting.

My siblings and I have never seen this hat. We are never permitted access to it, nor do we contribute to the possible destinations included in it. Once, in a rare attempt to convince us of its existence, my Father emerged from the bedroom carrying an indistinguishable shape in his arms, shrouded in a long black cape; insisting it was the hat; allowing us to feel its contortions beneath the material, to convince us of its form. My brother and I enjoyed this game. Last time it had turned out to be our baby sister. But she, now grown to the age of 6, found it more than perplexing.

Anyway, 2003 was no exception to this ritual, and once again our holiday destination was to be "Norfolk!" As my parents exclaimed in mock surprise.

You may – if you’ve been around here before – have seen these diaries in their lengthier, more un-edited form. Well that’s all gone now. Forget about them. I’m trying to censor as much of my adolescence as possible.


15th August 2003

"Dear potential burglar/s. Greetings. I am in Norfolk. Should you wish to steal anything from my room, I would ask of you only one favour in return. Please take the 1987 Dot Matrix printer, which has been gathering dust on top of my wardrobe for the last nine years. Thank you."

I am currently packing in preparation for the annual family excursion to Norfolk tomorrow. This outing will be much like any other, except it will last a week, and requires more luggage. I am using a dark blue suitcase to transport mine. Plastic frame. Canvas body. Last employed by my sister on a school trip and still bearing her laminated nametag, which I shall later rip off in an elaborate gesture to mark the case's acceptance as one of my possessions.

As everyone knows, there are two categories of packing into which everyone fits. And I dither between the two. Last year, during my anally-retentive phase, I carefully listed and categorised every item of clothing I owned (in this very notebook no less), and then sub-categorised them by weather-suitability, devising a complex checklist so that I had three outfits for each feasible weather condition.

This year I have taken a more bohemian approach. I packed the pile of clean clothes that has been amassing in the corner for two months now, ever since I promised myself I'd start tidying them up. I also threw a selection of pants in among them, including a green ill-fitting pair with a blood stain that nothing could remove. Unhappily, it has now faded to a more suspicious brown colour.


She foams at his mouth.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009


He leaves no crone unturned.

Monday, October 19, 2009

I used to smoke too much

I used to smoke too much, sometimes thirty,
forty cigarettes a day.
Then I devised a strategy to stop.
I would imagine that the cigarette was my cock.

Do you really want to do this, I would
ask myself, flame poised on tobacco tip.
Do you really want every intake of breath
to mean an incrementally smaller member?

This, in a roundabout way, is my explanation of
how I stopped smoking cigarettes and
began smoking telephone poles.

What You're Not

Whatever cumming is, that's what you're not.



Saturday, October 17, 2009

Victoria Williams: 0026

A parting verse for you Jason,
I issued an invitation,
But I should have known better,
(Was it the vibrator?)
For I know that you’re tired and I’m tiresome.

Wee Pee Poem

I don't hold my cock
when I pee.
It strikes me as too gay.

Victoria Williams: 0025

Pussy Poem

A hole where there should be a pole.

Port Of Call

Pages of my poems.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Victoria Williams: 0024

So I had that dream again. I was sitting next to him on the floor of a ballroom. I had it in my hand. I don’t know what I was doing. Trying to get a feel for it I guess. But it suddenly stiffened, and I looked over and it had turned into a pencil.

Later he set fire to his arm for religious reasons which seemed to make absolute sense at the time.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

On days my cock misbehaves

On days my cock misbehaves,
I pretend I'm going to circumcise it.
I make a big show of getting out a
razor blade, cotton wool, Dettol.

In the bathroom, I stand over the sink,
pull down my boxers, gather up
my foreskin like a businessman picking
gum off his shoe.

It’s a coward, my cock. It shrieks, pleads,
invokes Kant’s Categorical Imperative,
before finally
hanging it's head.

At that point I drop the blade,
release the whimpering skin and say:
“You silly goose. I would never hurt you.
I love you.”

Then, we kiss.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Victoria Williams: 0023

"Aggressively pursue your inner regions and see what kind of secrets you can stir up from within."

What is it exactly that Astrocenter.Com is advising me to do?

Friday, September 18, 2009

Colleen Higgs on Romancing the Dead by Gary Cummiskey

"Very interesting publication - it's a pamphlet, lovely cover, looks a bit like the Faber&Faber poetry covers, but glossier. Simple clear page and text design. The contents are riveting - strange, surreal, erotic stories/prose poems."

Available at R40 including postage (R50 for overseas orders). For order information, contact

Colleen Higgs is the publisher at Modjaji Books. Visit them here: Modjaji Books

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Against the Grain

Fuck wheat

Victoria Williams: 0022

There Is No Coincidence Here

There is no coincidence here - the wind has changed. You have already proved that there is no such thing as a random event.

Why did you make a point of placing the amethyst under my pillow? To ensure I would subsequently dream of you whenever I felt it there.

Why did you insist on straightening my spine by inserting a steel rod into my back? Because you knew sooner or later the lightning would strike.

Why did you throw a brick through my window, and then pay for it to be replaced by a single pane of ill-fitting glass? You were aware of the simple fact that it would be easier to break into upon your return.

Now the wind has changed, and your time is drawing near. Seriously, you don't forget about someone for eight years, only to suddenly dream of them for no reason. The wind has changed. I sit patiently opposite my window, waiting for the sound of breaking glass.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

New From Tearoom Books: Romancing the Dead by Gary Cummiskey

Tearoom Books is pleased to announce the publication of Romancing the Dead by Gary Cummiskey. This small collection of 11 prose poems from one of South Africa's leading underground poets displays writing that is laconic, unfussy, surreal, morbidly humourous and unsentimental. The world presented in it is one where the rules of causality have either broken down or are on their last legs. It is thus an absurd world, but, and this is Cummiskey's talent, it is also a world that is instantly and, in some cases, frighteningly recognizable.

Available at R40 including postage (R50 for overseas orders). For order information, contact

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Victoria Williams: 0021

My Favourite Restaurant

My favourite restaurant is the one that even in mid-January, in the thick of a blizzard, in sub-zero temperatures, will still put the plastic chairs and tables outside on the pavement in a futile bid to attract customers. I try to encourage this habit by making use of them throughout the year.

One November evening I was sitting with Sara to my right, talking about her new steam iron, and a string of lights entwined around the tree branches, shining on the cold mist, making the air sparkle.

It goes without saying that I wasn't listening to her. I mean, who really wants to know about nylon trousers* anyway? I was otherwise engaged, staring at the heavenly creature directly opposite. You know, the one whom, if there weren't two tables between us, I'd be over there making love to? Sara could tell because I was (apparently) stroking the neck of the ketchup bottle in a suggestive manner.

He looked like an oil painting, though only because with my eyesight, everyone looks smudged, and thus much better in a brush-stroked sort of way. I have always wanted to describe someone as having plumb-coloured hair - and as well him as another. He had plumb-coloured, spidery hair, and heavy bedroom eyes (bags under the eyes = sleepless nights, see?). I don't have to tell you that he was solitary (why else would I be interested?) and looking lost in his overcoat. Looking moody. Looking tortured. Looking like we both ought to go strolling through the snow like a certain photograph I wish to emulate, both of us unwilling to link arms with the world.

'One day,' I thought as he mistakenly stirred salt into his coffee, 'you will father my sickly children.'

* In the ensuing blackout three days later, Sara and Jim were able to power the automatic gravy-stirrer, using the static electricity generated by their nylon trousers rubbing against each other.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Aryan Kaganof Reviews Who Was Sinclair Beiles? by Gary Cummiskey and Eva Kowalska

Eventually one has to love Gary Cummiskey. He does not give up. He’s the kind of irascible soul that always draws trouble. Something about his pugnacious nature attracts difficulties. If it can go wrong at a printer it will. Twice. Gary’s often stuck in traffic. The waiter dusts more flies into his soup. But unlike most people you’ve ever met who share this streak of disaster-attraction - Cummiskey hasn’t got it in him to throw in the towel. You would have thought after years of publishing small press editions to little or no acclaim from the precarious South African literature “establishment” that Gary would see the light and stop bothering. Thank the gods he’s not that sort of bloke. Gary persists. His persistency is the stuff of local literary legend.

Green Dragon 6 is the best edition of his literary journal to date. And this volume about the late Yeoville Beat poet Sinclair Beiles is worth its weight in genetically modified stem cells. It keeps Beiles alive. A collection of essays by the likes of Alan Finlay, Fred Devries, co-editor Eva Kowalska and Gary himself, the book sheds shards of splintered, diffused and hazy light on the figure of Beiles whose reputation is based largely on memories of his surly frame sitting truculently outside coffee society in Rocky street, chain smoking irritably - has anyone ever read any of his poems?

In Yeoville in 1994 to film Nice To Meet You, Please Don’t Rape Me I was introduced to Beiles by my co-screenwriter Peter J. Morris, himself an equally taciturn, sour-bellied type. The two of them found things to grumble about. It was impossible for me to talk to Beiles. He just seemed too far gone in a vinegary disposition exacerbated by the brutal disappointment of never having ‘made it’ (whatever that means to a poet). But this volume opens the man up. Dawie Malan’s exquisite essay “the trouble with sinclair beiles” resuscitates the poet, gives him a fragile, vulnerable soul - and reveals librarian Dawie to be one of our most sensitive writers.

This book is essential. One day somebody will be collating a set of essays asking the question “Who Is Gary Cummiskey?” He deserves better. He deserves to be lionised now.

Aryan Kaganof

ISBN: 978-0-620-42792-0
Available from

First published on Kagablog

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Macho Confectionery

Chocolate Chip Bookies
Cinnamon Huns
Scone Sharks
Buff Pastries

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Confetti Westerns

The Wild Punch

Monday, August 24, 2009

Victoria Williams: 0020

In light of recent developments in the field of cosmetic surgery, I have been updating my vision of the perfect man - rendered in the medium of collage, and comprising of images cut from Literati Monthly, Crawford's Tweeds Catalogue [1977 edition], and old back issues of Melody Maker.

Combined and pasted to a board, the perfect man is now a horrifying amalgamation of handlebar moustache and cauliflower ear. Aside from that, I have also discovered that Jack Kerouac's 38-year-old nose does not work well with Bob Dylan's 23-year-old hair.

The perfect man now lies concealed at the back of my wardrobe, covered with a coat, his image haunting my nightmares, rapidly increasing my heartbeat and adrenaline levels, widening my eyes, parting my lips, soaking the bed sheets in "perspiration".

Knock Knock Jokes Pertaining To Common Human Ailments by Pravasan Pillay

Knock Knock Jokes Pertaining To Common Human Ailments by Pravasan Pillay is a four-page pamphlet of themed Knock knock jokes. It is free of charge, though copies are limited. "Very lame, but I love them that way." - Paul Wessels. [OUT OF PRINT]

Write to for your copy.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Forthcoming from Tearoom Books in September 2009

Forthcoming in September 2009. Romancing the Dead, a small collection of prose poems from underground legend Gary Cummiskey.

Available at R40 including postage. For order information, contact

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Review of Green Dragon 6

Review of Green Dragon 6, which contains lyrics by The Litchis, can be found here: Kasie Kulture.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Victoria Williams: 0019

Dear Mr. Shouty,

Please excuse Vickie from swimming; she has factitious syndrome.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Lyrics: Songololo Song by The Litchis

Under stone, stick and bone x 2
Songololo lives alone
When we hoe, when we sow x 2
He comes out from below


He is long, he is strong x 2
Come sing songololo's song

Go to bed, rest your head x 2
Songololo will be fed
There he goes, up your nose x 2
Creeping on a thousand toes


If you cry, if you sigh x 2
Songololo comes to pry
Dry your tears, close your ears x 2
Or in there he disappears


Friday, August 14, 2009

List at McSweeney's

Got a list up at McSweeney's

Philosopher Finishing Moves

The Aristhrottle
The Wittgenspine Buster
The Figure Four Ankle Locke
The Reverse Spinning Kickegaard
The Top Rope Over-the-Shoulder Thoreau
The Pulling Down of the Lyotard
The Feuerback Breaker
The Unemployment Clothes Line

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Lyrics: Rachel de Beer by The Litchis

Rachel de Beer was lost
to the freezing veld
I dressed her body
while all around men knelt

The white calf was fine
but not worth a life
If only I had known
it've met my knife

The smith found her body
naked, cold, and blue
Clutching a hollow hill
where her spirit had flew

Inside the boy was safe
dressed in her clothes
He looked like a pilgrim
come from strange roads

He would not say a word
he kissed her cold cheek
He fell into our arms
night had made him weak

I broke down the hill
and fired my gun
It'd taken our daughter
but had saved our son

We buried this brave girl
named Rachel de Beer
And traveled onwards
our children kept near

Rachel de Beer
There ain't nothing to fear
God loves you my dear
Sweet Rachel de Beer

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Rachel de Beer by The Litchis

Second demo video recording from the South African-Swedish husband and wife folk duo The Litchis. The song is based on the legend of Rachel de Beer, a young Afrikaaner girl who sacrificed her life in order to save her brother. For a brief outline see:

Victoria Williams: 0018

Are you going to tell him that his 'face mask' is actually a cricket box, or shall I?

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Lyrics: Snake and Cane by The Litchis

Yessir there’s a big black snake
Inside my work shoe
Could be the devil what left it
Could be his nephew

Now there’s electric current
In the city street
But over in the country
Serpents hiss at our feet

I’d strike the thing down dead
If I had the aim
But my poor head is sore
And my eyes inflamed

Don’t go blame that black snake
Wellsir not just yet
See the trouble started last night
When my mouth got wet

There’s a hundred thousand poisons
But I take just one
That there poison in my shoe
You can serve to a nun

Now you go tell the boss
That I’ve taken ill
When you come back to my shack
Your glass will be filled

If he asks you questions
Tell him ‘bout the snake
Brother do me this justice
My misery ain’t fake

First published in Green Dragon 6

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Lyrics: I Married A Goose by The Litchis

I married a goose
And lived in a pond
People did frown
About our bond

We got no peace
In my hometown
Ran to the city
Got hounded around

People were cruel
Spat in my face
Said I should stick
To my own race

People will say
You should live your life
What business of theirs
Who I take as a wife

If they grew feathers
If they grew a beak
Then maybe from them
A wife I would seek

First published in Green Dragon 6

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Big Bridge

"Green Apples", first published in the Caine Prize anthology The Obituary Tango, appears in the new issue of Big Bridge. It forms part of a South African focus, edited by Gary Cummiskey, entitled "Beauty Came Groveling Forward".

Victoria Williams: 0017

For the past eight months I have been focusing my attention on one particular individual, employing a technique that I like to call Prolonged Seduction. This involves lots of suggestive (yet subtle) 'signals', such as the movement of certain eyebrows, the 'fleeting' glances (not necessarily directed at their eyes), and most importantly, the well-timed, harrowingly convincing 'epileptic fit', designed to elicit sympathy/support, etc etc.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Lyrics: Black Hen by The Litchis

Black hen on my shoulder
My luck is getting colder
Black hen ain’t been good to me

Spent my life never without
Now my luck is heading south
Black hen been dogging my step

This bird ain’t lay no eggs
Shiny feathers, crooked legs
Black hen ain’t raise no chicks

Been with me for a year
Ain’t no plan to disappear
Black hen ain’t give me no rest

Ain’t afraid of butcher’s knife
That bird ain’t got no life
Black hen don’t fear no block

I been good since it come
But it ain’t helped me none
Black hen don’t keep no score

This bird don’t ever speak
No gospel from its beak
Black hen won’t give no reason

My hair turned all white
But that hen is black as night
Black hen ain’t going nowhere

Monday, July 27, 2009

Victoria Williams: 0016

And I might as well tell you while I still remember: the nurses gave me a paper bag to breathe into to stop me hyperventilating. This bag came from the pharmacy, and after about 15 minutes, I stopped panicking, and started to enjoy the aroma of whatever prescribed chemicals the bag had once contained.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Black Hen by The Litchis

Debut demo video recording from the South African-Swedish husband and wife folk duo The Litchis. Based on the Tamil sugarcane plantation folkstory of a Black Hen that is said to bring bad luck, the song was written in December 2007.

The Litchis are Jenny Kellerman Pillay and Pravasan Pillay.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Text Messages From Nostradamus To His BFF

"jst chillin. orderd pizza. wil b hre in 30 min. dnt ask hw i knw."

"did yr nose ring get infected? told u. :-p"

"yeh watchin csi 2. they solve da murder. trust me."

"omg!!! wrld cuming 2 an end. brangelina 2 dvorce. wht abt da kids?!!"

“had a funni feelin u’d txt. lol! soooo weird!!!”

An African Responds To Indie Band Names #3: My Morning Jacket

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Victoria Williams: 0015

Current Ambitions

1. To be aggressive, yet amiable.

2. To call someone a 'crazy cunt' to their face.

3. To learn to play the bagpipes.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Books My Ex-Principal Read To His Children


Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Victoria Williams: 0014

I want to cut my ear off and mail it to someone with a note:
"You're not listening. Try using this."

Monday, June 29, 2009

Prehistoric Fortune Cookies

You will not be able to read this.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Tapeworm Love Songs

Damn, I Wish I Was Your Larva

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Victoria Williams: 0013

Monday, June 22, 2009

No Bells Prize For Literature


Friday, June 19, 2009

What Javelins Call Boomerangs


Thursday, June 18, 2009

Jaded Javelins

I just don't see the point in coming back down sometimes.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Jittery Javelins

a. I'm gonna throw up. Seriously.

b. Look out!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Victoria Williams: 0012

We Were Just Talking No.2

I think she's ugly. She offends my eyes.

Well you're no oil painting yourself.

I know, but I don't have to look at me

Monday, June 15, 2009

Jubilant Javelins


Friday, June 12, 2009

Knock Knock: Ailments

Despite a two weeks supply of Knock Knock Ailment "jokes" still in the "bag", "we" have succumbed to "reader" "pressure", and discontinued Knock Knock Ailment Month. Next week will be javelin "week".
Knock knock
Who's there?
Colic who?
Let's colic a day

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Knock Knock: Ailments

Knock Knock
Who's there?
Fever who?
Fever just in zee neighbourhood
Knock Knock
Who's there?
Hay fever
Hay fever who?
Hay, fever just in zee neighbourhood

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Victoria Williams: 0011

Test of endurance called to a halt. Finally had to empty my bladder.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Knock Knock: Ailments

Knock knock
Who's there?
Schizophrenia who?
Who's on first?

Friday, June 5, 2009

Knock Knock: Ailments

Knock knock
Who's there?
Cramp who?
Crampa Joe.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Knock Knock: Ailments

Knock knock
Who's there?
Mumps who?
Mumps the word.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Knock Knock: Ailments

Knock knock
Who's there?
Asthma who?
Asthma fist.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Victoria Williams: 0010

Love Song of Neisseria Gonorrhoeae
Knock Knock
Who’s there?
Gonorrhoea Who?
Gonorrhoea’d the fury in thy eyes,
But give me leave I can explain this,
Thus accept flowers and resent not lies,
I have inflamed thy pelvis.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Knock Knock: Ailments

Knock Knock
Who's there?
Jaundice who?
Jaundice telegram or not?

Friday, May 29, 2009

Knock Knock: Ailments

Knock knock
Who's there?
Ulcer who?
Ulcertainly not visit you again

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Knock Knock: Ailments

Knock knock
Who's there?
OCD who?
Knock knock

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Knock Knock: Ailments

Knock knock
Who's there?
Ennui who?
Ennui go with this charade

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Victoria Williams: 0009

Three Things That Concern Me

1. Potential sexual partners (reclusive nature of).

2. The transience of friendship. Why are all my relationships begun on the understanding that they must eventually end?

3. The likelihood that one day, all my lies will catch up with me.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Knock Knock: Ailments

Knock knock
Who's there?
Sinus who?
Sinus petition please

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Knock Knock: Unscripted

Knock knock
Who's there?
Joe Shmoe.
Joe Shmoe who?

Wednesday, May 20, 2009


Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Victoria Williams: 0008

The truth is all very well and good, but as far as entertainment goes it has its limits.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Roadrunner Self Censorship


Friday, May 15, 2009

Re: Lice Bands

Harold, agree we need to retool our brand. But not feeling this one.

Pete Hardwick
P.H. Alice Band Co.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Quote and Analysis

“We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.” - Oscar Wilde

There is a roofing problem over sections of the gutter.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Fake Facial Scrub Ingredients


Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Victoria Williams: 0007

Hey, I like you. I'm putting you on my 'If I Get Desperate' list.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Text Speak of the Rich

Rolling on the floors laughing

Friday, May 8, 2009

Cartoon Shows for the Rich


Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Victoria Williams: 0006

Yeah dying has always been up there on my list of ambitions. Mainly 'cos it's the only one I know I can achieve.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Footprints, Revisted by Anton Krueger

i dreamed i saw two pairs of footprints
trailing through the sands of time…
i dreamed i saw two sets of steps:
one pair the master’s, the other, mine…

and I said: “but lord –
why when times were hardest for me,
why are there only one pair of footprints, then?
why did you abandon me in the hour of my greatest need?”

and he turned to me…
and in a voice as crystal clear as dawn,
i heard the voice of our lord say:
“hmm…aah…well…look –
…sorry about that.”

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Victoria Williams: 0005

I have this horrible feeling that I'm approaching a stage in my life, where the only way to get by is to practice saying, "I'm so happy for you," to others.

The Queen by Jenny Kellerman

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Internet Junkie by Yurisa Naidoo

The Internet are her bitch

Victoria Williams: 0004

Dust is literally the presence of the dead.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

I Check My Mouse Balls

I realise the sheer obnoxiousness of commenting on something that has just appeared on one's own site but I thought it worth recording that for the third time today I have sputtered out my coffee as I glanced over Victoria Williams' 'I Check My Mouse Balls'.

It's a shame that the era of mouse balls is at an end.

Arja Salafranca reviews The Obituary Tango

The Obituary Tango
Mixed bag from Africa
By Arja Salafranca

August 31, 2006

The Obituary Tango: A selection of writing from the Caine Prize for African Writing 2005 (Jacana R125)

The settings are familiar: overloaded minibuses careening around Kenya, a car hijacking, a dead zebra lying in brown dust in the bush.

Familiar and yet unfamiliar, The Obituary Tango collects stories from north of our border and presents another Africa to us South Africans. There are also a number of local writers included here.

The annual Caine Prize awards previously published short stories by African writers from the continent. Publishers are invited to submit work published in the previous five years. Both winners and short-listed candidates are then invited to participate in a writers' workshop somewhere in Africa.

This anthology, then, collects the winner of the 2005 prize, Segun Afolabi's Monday Morning, along with the other four short-listed candidates.

In addition, a number of writers attended the workshops, and produced the remainder of the volume. It is thus a mixed bag. There are some very good, gripping pieces, but the majority were run of the mill.

Some were startlingly powerful in language and execution, until it came to the conclusion, and the whole story seemed to crumble away into meaninglessness.

I think part of the fault lies in the fact that the stories were produced while on a workshop - publication is assured - and the best writing is not always written "to order", so to speak.

Surely a better showcase of these writers' talents would have been achieved if they had been asked to submit their best pieces. So, on to the winner and the standouts, among the short-list.

Nigerian Afolabi's Monday Morning is one of those powerful narratives. It tells the story of a group of refugees who've recently arrived in the city, escaping rape and war.

The mother's hand had been hacked off, and in a moving scene she touches her sleeping husband with her paw which she normally keeps hidden in the day.

The story is about the children, Emmanuel and Alfredo, and how they try to acclimatise to life in a place where they are strangers, and xenophobia is manifested in the down-turned mouths, sour expressions and "the eyes narrowed to slits".

It's a poignant, incredibly complex story. Not only are they dealing with loss and displacement, but the older boy, Emmanuel is also reaching that time in his childhood when his parents are beginning to lose their omnipotency and perfection.

He starts to regard his father as fat and stupid, and this compounds the welter of emotions he is dealing with.

Ugandan Doreen Baingana's Tropical Fish is another excellent story . It follows the affair between a 35-year-old white man and a 20-year-old black student at Makerere University.

This is not a relationship in the traditional sense of the word. It's not going to lead to anything more than a roll in the hay now and again.

Christine, the student, is forced to confront her own ideas of what she really wants in the relationship when she falls pregnant. The affair has offered no more than "bubble baths, gin-and-tonics, ganja sex" and time in a clean, white house where Christine can forget the dust of the places she comes from.

But in the end, nothing more is expected from this liaison, and you suspect, as Christine waits in a matatu one afternoon, wondering what she wanted, that she has learned far more than she realises. It's love across the colour line, a big deal for this student, but it's more than that: rite of passage; certainly a threshold has been crossed.

South African Muthal Naidoo's Jail Birds, first published in Botsotso magazine and now also available in her collection of the same name, is a finely detailed story about life in jail as a political activist under apartheid.

Told in colloquial, immediate language, the story moves along quickly, and remains a fine, sharp piece of writing. The story Naidoo writes while on the workshop, Aunty and Ma is a sassy story of a man who has been shot dead and his dazed realisation of who killed him.

Moving onto the stories produced while on the workshop, I find far less to recommend them. However, Kenya's Shalini Gidoomal's Travelling Cargo is a brilliant story in which a couple is attacked in a hijacking - strains of the familiar here - and bundled into the back of the woman's car, handcuffed to each other.

The attackers have guns, and the couple spends the next few long hours struggling against each other, wondering whether they are going to be killed or set free.

It's a taut, tight piece of writing which illuminates an experience that is all too familiar to us as South Africans, although this is set in Kenya. The pace doesn't flag for a second.

Equally brilliant is Nigerian Tolu Ogunlesi's To a Cartoonist in which the narrator addresses the cartoonist who produced those famous cartoons depicting Mohammed, published in Denmark, which caused a furore. It's a clever, witty piece of writing.

Local writer, Pravasan Pillay conjures up the world of bored 12-year-old Pinky Pillay with astonishing foresight in Green Apples.

Pinky has started smoking, hates school, eats condensed milk on her bread and is suffering all the beginnings of teenage angst. She's a lovely, likeable protagonist and I hope we'll be hearing more from Pillay the writer.

First published in Tonight

In His Salon by Yurisa Naidoo

In his salon
Her dark, cropped hair
Is blond

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Victoria Williams: 0003

Yes, this is a must.
Check them well, and often.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Apprentice Shadow Puppeteer writes to the Master

"Thank you for casting a shadow shaped as knowledge on my brain."

Friday, March 27, 2009

Figure Sleeping

Caption by Jenny Kellerman

Quote and Analysis

"Don't stay in bed, unless you can make money in bed." - George Burns

He's alluding to prostitution (Whoring).

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

The Track-Listing of The Band's First Album, Entitled The Album

1. The First Track
2. The Second Track
3. The Third Track
4. The Fourth Track
5. The Fifth Track
6. The Sixth Track
7. The Seventh Track
8. The Eighth Track
9. The Ninth Track
10. The Tenth Track

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Victoria Williams: 0002

All-Purpose Opinion

[Insert Noun] is awful. Awful. Some of it is good. But it's marred by the fact that most of it is awful.

An African Responds to Indie Band Names: #1 Godspeed You! Black Emperor

Monday, March 23, 2009

Chimurenga 14 Out in April

Chimurenga 14

Words and Images from: M. Neelika Jayawardane, Emily Raboteau, Rasheed Araeen, Martin Kimani, Shailja Patel, Rustum Kozain, Kai Friese, Amitav Gosh, Manu Herbstein, J.S. Saxena, Ranjith Kally, Vivek Narayanan, Achal Prabhala, Akin Adesokan, Neo Muyanga, Philippe Rekacewicz, Percy Zvomuya, Mahmood Mamdani, Binyavanga Wainaina, Raqs Media Collective, Pravasan Pillay, Rigo 23, Andile Mngxitama, Naeem Mohaiemen, Tsuba Ka 23, Girija Tropp, the Robben Island Museum, Speculative Archive, and many more …

Out on April 2

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Suck Eggs by Tiny Mungwe

(Video Removed)

Directed by Tiny Mungwe
Written by Pravasan Pillay
Shot by Azad Essa
Edited by Tiny Mungwe
Actors: Germaine Kitchen and Leeanne Booysen
Running Time: 2:22 min

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Victoria Williams: 0001

Two Post-Coital Comments Originating From Anonymous Hotel Rooms

1. "If I was a steak I'd be well-done."

2. "When we're married darling, I'll do that for free."

Victoria Williams is a genius from England.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Three Laws of (South African) Robotics

1. A robot may not assist a human being or, through any action, allow a human being to cross an intersection.

2. A robot must obey orders given to it by human beings, except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.

3. A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Law.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Forthcoming publication from Dye Hard Press: Green Dragon 6

Contributors to this forthcoming issue of the newly relaunched Green Dragon are Alan Finlay, Arja Salafranca, Haidee Kruger, Janet van Eerden, Joop Bersee, Kelwyn Sole, Kobus Moolman, Tania van Schalkwyk, Megan Hall, Cecilia Ferriera, Anton Krueger, Allan Kolski Horwitz, Goodenough Mashego, David wa Maahlamela, Vonani Bila, Mphutlane wa Bofelo, Aryan Kaganof, Neo Molefe Shameeyaa, Colleen Higgs, Gus Ferguson, Brent Meersman, Kai Lossgott, Daniel Browde, Mick Raubenheimer and Mxolisi Nyezwa. Lyrics from Durban folk group The Litchis.


Publication scheduled for May/June.
Pricing to be confirmed.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Pinky Pillay by Jenny Kellerman

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Queens by Jenny Kellerman

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Quote and Analysis

"I find when I do not think of myself I do not think at all" - Jules Renard

He's talking about me.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Early Suggestions From The Marketing Desk of The Makers of Jawbreaker Candy


Orifice Obliterator

Ball and Pain


Monday, March 2, 2009


Invent an application that measures and tracks the percentage of Internet that a person has visited.

For instance, when you log on the application would say: "Good morning, David. You have 20 percent of the Internet left to visit."

N.b. The application should only be sold to people named David.

The Only Times It's Acceptable to Put All Your Eggs In One Basket


Sunday, March 1, 2009

Possible domain name for social networking site servicing Antarctica
or, maybe

Adding the 's' suggests multiple opportunities for ice breaking.

This is more social.

Morrissey's Usual Suspects Were He The Lead Forensic Scientist of CSI: Miami


Friday, February 27, 2009

Failed Lolcats


I can haz cat food?

Oh hai, I is personified.

Items Immune to 'The Emperor's New Clothes' Analogies


Pillay by Kellerman

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Nobody's Dirty Business <2008>

Directed by Pravasan Pillay
Shot and edited by Tiny Mungwe
Actor: Germaine Kitchen
Music: Mississippi John Hurt
Running Time: 1:15 min

Hamlet as a Pissed-Off Chick <2008>

Shot and Directed by Pravasan Pillay
Based on Act 2, Scene 3 of Hamlet by William Shakespeare
Edited by Tiny Mungwe
Hamlet: Germaine Kitchen
Guildenstern: Deepak Mistrey
Music: Jenny Kellerman
Running Time: 2:52 min

Review of Gary Cummiskey's Today is their Creator

The short twenty-five pages of Gary Cummiskey's poetry collection Today is their Creator are the best I've read in a while. The poems in these pages disrupt both the meanings of words and their relation to reality and also, and most crucially, for me at least, the overly precious poetic register that dominates local verse. Cummiskey's devices (deadpan lines, surreal word combinations, absurd contexts) are admirably cold but the ideas and emotions being piped through these devices are as hot as hell. This is a difficult art to master and Cummiskey, like Burroughs before him, does it exceedingly well. File under essential.

~Pravasan Pillay

ISBN: 978-0-620-402820-8
Available directly from the publisher at R40 per copy, including postage.
E-mail for purchase details.

First published here

Visit Dye Hard Press

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Review of Gary Cummiskey's April in the Moon-Sun

Gary Cummiskey's cut-up prose pamphlet April in the Moon-Sun (2006, Dye Hard Press) opens with the following quote from artist and originator (along with long-time collaborator William S. Burroughs) of cut-ups, Brion Gysin: "If you want to challenge and change fate…cut up words." One needn't agree with this idea or the Burroughsian conceit of language as a virus and cutups as the diagnosis mechanism to appreciate it's value as a literary method.

For poets cut-ups offer a readily available avenue to go beneath the skin of language, to the mucus below, and to re-emerge with images that blind. Cummiskey's Moon-Sun, which switches between surreal prose poems of London and Johannesburg, contains many of these kinds of images. On the first reading one gropes about for a narrative but by the second the groping stops and its the beauty of the lines that grab you. Lines - at random - like:

"suburban living rooms with pretty studded silver nightmares"

"black bodices of stumped romantics"

"spoiled mustard-gas songs"

"the dirty slut caught reading tarot cards"

"she sent them by express thighs"

"as right-wingers took pot-shots into the ocean"

"her second eye sewn up against the cigarette smoke"

"mama let me out! Let me out of hanging out"

"cheese melt the pussy melt"

"imaginary drunkards"

"i don't have a heart revolution"

"the waitress leans over with her tits inked all over his pajamas"

"cure me into a poem and never to be seen again"

The line "spoiled mustard-gas songs", in particular, stayed with me. It takes a certain kind of genius to rip through the membranes that separate "spoiled", "mustard-gas" and "songs". Published in 2006 this is some of the most exciting writing in 2008.

~Pravasan Pillay

First published on Kagablog

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Gary Cummiskey's Short Review of Glumlazi

Glumlazi is a first collection by Durban poet Pravasan Pillay, published by new small press Tearoom Books. A beautiful little debut volume, these SMS-like poems range from two to seven lines each. Two of them are as follows:

House was the grenade
Mama was the pin


down the tunnels
where the lights are always on
there are still shadows

Available at R40 including postage. For order information, contact

This review first appeared here

Haidee Kruger's Short Review of Glumlazi

Witty, brittle, wry vignettes. Beware their simplicity - some will leave you smarting. A distilled kind of complexity. One of my favourites:

mama was the pin
house was the grenade
mama was the pin

(And I have to say: I love the cover.)

First published here

Anton Krueger Reviews Glumlazi

Not so Glum Lazi
by Anton Krueger

It was a real treat to crack open Pravasan Pillay’s collection Glumlazi this morning.

Instead of trying to muse philosophical about the impact of his poems on my mind, it might be more appropriate to document the effect they had on my face. Here were some of the expressions I went through while reading through this sardonic little compilation over my coffee: laughter, wincing, more laughter, puzzlement, laughter, surprise,brooding head nodding, enjoyment, smiling…

Each of the tight little poems in here packs a punch. I was reminded of Piet Hein’s Grooks from the 70’s with their pithy comments on states of affairs. The influence of Wopko Jensma is also acknowledged and is occasionally evident, but most of all Pillay has created an idiosyncratic style all his own. Many of the poems seem to emerge out of his rueful murmurings on failed relationships, and yet even at his most bitter there is an ironic self-deprecating humour.

i’m not the best of the
insecure poets

And throughout the book there is an appeal to take things easier, to relax from the strain of taking ourselves too seriously.

letter to upstarts
my ideal job would be
to unsharpen your

There are also political overtones and an awareness of larger structures, and yet, politics is always entwined with the personal:

nats vs. gnat
she accepts the penance
of the nats but not mine

And then there is the more sultry side of his cynicism. If some of the contents had been toned down for a more commercial consumption, this booklet might have been a bestseller, but Pillay doesn’t compromise, and some of the humour is biting.

swamp blues
her swamp need a


her vibrator’s got a
better car than me


got her beeswax
on my mind

By the end of this all too brief foray into Pillay’s personal perspective, there is an acknowledgement of the limitations of what desire, love and politics can do. Even the capacity of what poetry itself can achieve is quietly derided.

three pin plugs, two pin sockets
this so-called extra sense of
will not bring them power

The one thing that remains when all of these have fallen away, is the humour. We can often do without the philosophy, without politics, even, perhaps, without love, but it is hard to get by without laughter.

This review first appeared here

Tearoom Books' First Publication

Tearoom Books is an indie press based in Durban, South Africa. Run by Pravasan Pillay and Jenny Kellerman, it aims to publish pamphlets of outstanding contemporary poetry, fiction, non-fiction and humour. Tearoom's first pamphlet, Glumlazi by Pravasan Pillay, was released in January 2009. Glumlazi, Pillay's debut, is a collection of short poems,concerning revenge, sex, and the blues. The majority of poems run no-more than two lines.

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