Friday, February 27, 2009

Failed Lolcats


I can haz cat food?

Oh hai, I is personified.

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

More on Cummiskey here

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.

Write to for order information.