Thursday, December 30, 2021

Cape Poems shares an outsider-insider experience of SA's Cape Peninsula

The Cape is a unique historical and geographical space within South Africa.

From earlier times (and being the primary landing spot of settlers), it has been a contested space, It is also a place of striking natural beauty.

In this text, I don't pretend to reflect on Cape Town in the way a Capetonian would. Instead, I interact with it artistically as an outsider who has also has had some key 'insider' experiences.

In this ebook of 25 poems, I explore my experience of the place, what it means to me and how (implicitly), it energizes my other creative work. How it informs my understanding of South Africa. The poems make reference to various sites that tourists are likely to be familiar with. At the same time, it conveys something of the milieu of ordinary people.

Cape Poem (poems by F. Meintjies) may be obtained here: .The price is no more than the cost of a cup of filter coffee. 

Frank Meintjies

Saturday, December 18, 2021

Monday, October 11, 2021

Poetry collection to mark third Covid-19 wave - Lockdown Lines.

I've released the third (and final) in my series on Covid-19: Lockdown Lines- Third Wave. The poems either reference the pandemic or are included because they were written as part my way of dealing with the fears and uncertainty. Each collection in the series complements the other two. 

As in the other two chapbooks, the writing uses the dynamic, sparkling and sometimes startling language of poetry to convey its meanings, moods and reflections. It speaks to conditions in South Africa and beyond, the new pressures which have changed the world and shifted trajectories fundamentally.

Links: Or: .

Monday, August 9, 2021

Patina upon patina: J-town

Scrawled on the city 
and a profuse patina 
on my brain, in my bones 
so many tales
how they came
the old and current earthquakes from the mines
the unsolved bank robbery at Randburg
a story still at large
the cranes and the builders
the anti-builders who crushed dreams – Sofiatown, Doories, Fietas
how the city lost Wopko in the cracks
the unmellow yellow of cop-van raids 
in the wee hours
looking for black bodies, looking to manage their limbs
how so many who came      leave in droves, at year-end
boxed in on trains, the trommels on bakkies, the buses sagging
a small prison tree – apricot, I believe
where women prisoners sat, ointmenting the sting
and the larger prison; while shadows pool
in the eye’s hollow
the spraycan worked on the walls
of an old theatre (Kilroy and lord knows which other ghosts were here)
mould getting the upper hand
in the grotty side of town
so many voices, all speaking at once
if you let them

Ah, the sweat-stained dreams
imagining the future

Sometimes you can hear
the strains of a mouth organ, saxophone, Kippie's flute 
or just the plaintive whistle of a train 

Tuesday, June 22, 2021

New collection: Lockdown Poems: Second Wave

I've released my second set of "lockdown poems." These poems focus on the Second Wave in the unfolding path of the Covid-19 pandemic and were written

after 28 Dec 2020, when the South African president raised the lockdown levels.

Writing poetry on 'lockdown' experiences and other matters at this time allowed me to confront and, in a small way, deal with the range of emotions associated with living through the pandemic's second wave.

You can get an e-book version of the collection here: The cost is just $1.50.

This comment gives an idea of the kinds of poems you will experience in reading Lockdown Poems: Second Wave. Referring to the first lockdown poem collection [the publication that preceded this on], radio host Renos Nicos Spanoudes had this to say: "Every one of these poems touched me deeply, speaking the raw truth of being human during this time, trying to survive and comprehend."

Tuesday, June 1, 2021

Prose: Another Day in Paradise

(May 2020)

Some days I feel that the earth is veering from its normal path as it swirls around the sun. That things are tilting in a way they haven’t before. On other days, I feel everything's the same. Tick-tock, tick-tock. That the river of time isn't dangerously in flood at all; it's merely a miserable stream in a meadow.

I look around my room. The cupboards, light brown wood from floor to ceiling, hold their own in the fading afternoon light. The curtains are pulled back; cream cotton drapes and a white lace drop with embroidered leaves. There is no breeze; just the night's cold and damp settling in.

I’ve been holed up for over a month. I did step out once, when the milk ran out, to a gas station a block away. The streets were completely empty.  I didn’t even see a cat or a dog. A lone minibus, standing at the traffic light seemed forlorn, friendless. The driver, ignoring regulations, wasn’t wearing a mask. He looked left and then right, and steered his vehicle forward: no point waiting for green. I crossed the road. At the gas station, the teller behind a security glass signaled to me to hold up the milk carton so she could scan it. It seemed too much effort — for her and me — to say anything more than a muffled “Hi”. Unlike supermarkets and many other stores, there wasn’t any sanitizer available. These are the thoughts that drift like dandelions in my head.

Now back at my room, I boil the kettle water. I take out some old calligraphy pens and ink. I can hear my breath as I complete a line of letters. ABCD abcd. Good practice, heavier downward strokes, lighter and thinner upward strokes. Then I write some names, random names ‒ Sally, Nomsa; then names of my late brother who died of cancer in 2013. Michael. Again, the strong downward strokes. My breath deepens. I remember my brother’s physical strength. He was always working; willing to pave the driveway at my parent's home and sometimes loaning a pair of pliers to fix a neighbor’s gate. Then I write the name of my late mother, Dorothy, taking extra care with that D; making it especially ornate. Her love was like a thread joining me and my siblings. As I execute the strokes, it comes to me that, in these unusual times, those who have gone some years ago feel as close to me as my living friends. I put the pen down and close my eyes. I inhale and exhale. Mentally, I try to connect. I imagine writing the word connected, the C with an extra curl that reaches back over the entire word.

I make Rooibos tea, it's a reddish brew that has been drunk by the Khoi, the first nation groups that lived in the Cape Province when the first colonizer, Jan van Riebeeck, came. I take a sip and feel the warmth percolating in my mouth and down my esophagus. I can hear the hadedas give their trademark squawk. I step closer to the window. I've just missed their v-formation flight ‒ which is usually in the direction of the setting sun. Ah, well … there’s always tomorrow.

I sit again at the brown wooden desk with its drawers flanking the chair’s position. A BIC pen lies in a random position on an exam pad. My mind wanders to the end of lockdown; what will it be like? That coffee from Motherland, that piece of cake from VovoTelo, that beer from Radium. I smile as I think about that old Portuguese pub-cum-restaurant, about the dark-wood cladding that dims the interior, about the taciturn barman Sonnyboy and about the owner’s constant lament, long before the C-19 lockdown began, that ‒ "these days” – business was tough and customers too few. I think about my friends, and how they’d be happy to be out sipping on tumblers of beer and engaging in what they call “kakpraat”. And I wonder whether the homeless will be delighted to go back on the wintry streets, whether the volunteers will shut the soup kitchens and whether the government, now appreciating how many people millions live on the edge, will keep rolling out the R300-a-month grant for ultra-poor.

I pick up the ballpoint pen. Writing doesn't come easy. During the lockdown, the similes hide and the metaphors shrink away. Yet I manage, on the A4 page that holds the calligraphy letters of my mother’s name, to pen these lines:


F. Meintjies

31 May 2020

Sunday, February 21, 2021

Artists craft billboard message: Meintjies and Mgibe

 The Centre for the Less Good Idea's Billlboard's are big, bold and prominently situated. The project is geared to provoking reflection, with (broadly speaking) the current times. I had the opportunity to be included in this project. I partnered with Wezile Mgibe in crafting this work.

The lines I used come from my poem entitled I Can't Breathe. See it here:

The Centre advertised the call in late July last year with these words:

"The Centre for the Less Good Idea is calling for artists from across the disciplines to submit word and image proposals for artworks towards ‘PAUSE, BREATHE, | The Highway Notice Project’

The Highway Notice Project has been created in response to the current crisis and the need for continued physical distancing. Two billboards on the M1 and M2 highway in Johannesburg have been identified to hold a series of monthly artworks printed on to billboard material. The project will launch on 1 October 2020."

Frank Meintjies