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

Tuesday, February 16, 2021

Worker Culture in SA from mid-80s to mid-90s

From the mid-80s to mid-90s, a South African movement of worker cultural expression was born, centred on Kwa-Zulu Natal.

It revolved around the organisation and mobilisation work of the Culture and Working Life Project (CWLP). CWLP started in 1985 to train workers in drama, music and literature. Based in the Sociology Department at the University of Natal, CWLP worked closely with the trade unions to organise cultural events for May Day and other important political occasions. It also helped establish cultural structures and document cultural activity.

See my article entitled, An explosion of worker creativity in Natal: The catalytic role of the Culture and Working Life Project, (ASAI, 2021). It can be accessed here:

Tuesday, January 12, 2021

Boost your poetry writing skills -- SA youth opportunity

If you are South African, 35 years of age and under and want to hone your poetry writing skills, this course is for you.

The Power of the Pen Course enters its last phase with a course set for the first quarter of 2021. 

Funded by the National Arts Council, this poetry course involves three master class sessions that will enable young poets to take their poetry to a new level. The course is free - but only if applicants attend all three sessions.

The course covers: Poetry Devices; Sound, Structure and Meaning, Reviewing Your Work, and; Ways to Make an Income from Poetry

Send your application to Please send a poem you have written as part of the application. Also, in a short message, let us know why you want to be on the course.

The course facilitator is myself, Frank Meintjies, an accomplished poet who has conducted numerous training workshops, has published poetry, short stories and children's stories. His poetry has been included in numerous anthologies, in school textbooks and in his own collections. 

Tuesday, December 1, 2020

Release: Lockdown poetry collection by Frank Meintjies

The poetry in this slim collection tells of the strange days as "lockdown"  in response to the Covid-19 pandemic  took hold in South Africa. Some are playful (about the animals), others are reflective and others look closely and empathetically at ways in which we are all affected.

Writing under the pressure of lockdown isn't easy and quite a few writers in South Africa were stricken by writers' block. But I was, fortunately, able to keep writing. 

I committed to writing a poem every day for the initial 21-day lockdown period. Many of the poems from that writing exercise are included here, complemented by poems writing in the period after.

See the Lockdown Poems here:

Monday, August 10, 2020

New poetry released: Wind in the Trees

I have compiled a collection of my poems that reference nature, spiritual connection and centredness. The e-book is called Trees in the Wind. 

In the foreword, Gladys Ryan writes: "Through Frank’s poems, I feel Africa flow through my veins just like the mighty Limpopo’s ‘hard elbows against banks’ and then I soar through the heavens above and imagine what it must be like to be that young hawk who “sharpens her talons for a debut strike.”

The e-book, containing 26 poems, can be purchased here at the special introductory price of $1.50.

Thursday, June 25, 2020

SA's transition: a major breakthrough & unfinished business

What happened during South Africa's remarkable and fraught transition? I discuss some of the issues in this video interview produced by Gladys Ryan. See

Monday, March 9, 2020

short story: The Trip

"That was Bella on the phone. She's so excited about this London trip. We’ve booked.” Cilla, in black shorts and a pink t-shirt, was framed by the entrance to your bedroom. You, Zanele, were getting ready to go out, just sticking your eye pencil and lipstick into a small pouch on the dressing table.
“What? I thought you were only thinking about it. Wait for your dad to finish shaving.” Normally you said to yourself, "I got this". As a proud mother of a child with a spirit like Cilla, you knew when to give latitude and when to pull firmly on the reins. This time, you realise with a start, Cilla was galloping ahead.
Mandla emerged from the shower. The whiff from his after-shave tickled your nostrils and you sneezed. "Bella's booked to go to London - for a show," you said while Mandla was still saying "Bless you" and as you reached into the tissue box on the dresser.
“Whaat! When did this happen,” said Mandla. “Why do I know nothing about this?” He glared at Cilla, and then at you. Cilla moved from leaning against near the door to sit on the dressing table seat, a brown leather stool with covered buttons. The pink t-shirt seemed redder in the mirror.
“I mentioned it to mum,” Cilla said. Her eyes shifted to you, then dropped.
You raised a right hand: "Hold it right there, baby girl". Then, with a face starting to feel flushed, you turned to your man. “Mandla, she said it was just an idea. I meant to discuss it with you ... when I got more info.”
Mandla dragged a chair from against the wall. He put his right foot on it. “Things happen behind my back in this house. Maybe you wanted to keep me in the dark because you knew I'd be dead against it.” At first, you were mum, like your brain was buffering. Then you shook your head. "No, it's not like that Mandla."
Mandla turned to Cilla: “You're too young to be running around overseas.”
You knew you were in trouble. Mandla was a wonderful person, but very old school steeped in Zulu culture. Kids know their place and baba makes the big decisions for them. You could almost hear him thinking - in the kind of words he liked to use: "You, Zanele, are queen in our castle. This is your responsibility. You're supposed to keep this kid in line".
Looking at Cilla, you flicked your finger from right to left and gave a shake of the head in the same direction. Cilla left the room. Mandla sat on the bed with a gaze tilted to the carpet: “I’m disappointed in you, Zanele. Deeply.” He breathed in slowly and exhaled; you saw his chest rise and subside.
His fingers were pulled tightly into his palm. You went to sit next to him. You put your arms around him. His body remained stiff. You tried to make your voice soft and gentle: “I know you have to rush off to work, love. Let’s do supper tonight. I know you're furious and I'm sorry. I should have been more on the ball. Let’s talk about how to handle this.”
 “Zanele, come see this.” Mandla was shouting. You rushed into the lounge from the kitchen. On the television, you saw people running helter-skelter. The camera eye moved jerkily and, at points, the images were fuzzy at the edges. The script below said:  London: BeyoncĂ© venue attacked!
“My god, Mandla!” You felt blood rush to your face. “Cilla, Cilla. No!” You wanted to scream her name. But only a whisper escaped, as if your voice itself had wobbly knees. Mandla looked at the screen, then at you. “Have you heard from her?” You mumbled: "I ... er ... No".
“Give me your phone,” he said sternly. You didn’t move - couldn't. You were looking at him; in the corner of your eye, you caught the news channel's whirling images, a stew of movement and colour. Mandla reached for your bag on the chair and retrieved your phone. His fingers jabbed at the screen – he knew your password. With laser eyes, he gazed at you as he waited for an answer. “No answer. Dammit!”
“What should we do, Mandla!” You lifted your t-shirt and dabbed your eyes with its edge. Your mind whirled, a bit like the TV images. Mandla said: "The show hadn't started yet … I just hope … just hope … she wasn't at the venue yet.”
Mandla turned to you. The message 'see what you have done'  was written in his eyes, eyes that glinted and, it seemed, resisted blinking for a jillion seconds.  “I knew this was a bad idea! But you wouldn't listen,” he said, speaking louder than usual. 

“Please Mandla”. You could think of nothing else to say. "Don't overreact."
“I hold you responsible.” Mandla carefully avoided the word ‘blame’ – in the past you have forced him to take back that word; to accept that raising a blaming finger wasn't bad for the marriage.
The cellphone vibrated & slowly spun on the table, like a dog chasing its tail. You grabbed it. The name “Cilla” stood out like a neon light. Your hand was shaking. “Hello, yes, yes.” Cilla’s voice was faint. “Mum, it’s me. I’m okay. Bella and I are okay.” You felt your eyes swimming in hot fluid. “Thank god. I am so glad, darling”. You passed the phone to Mandla. His left arm curled around your shoulders. You thought of many things. Images of Cilla. You imagined her in a London street, in her shorts. You remembered embracing her, as she left, her tears staining your blouse. You heard Mandla say … “I want you back here. I can’t believe I allowed you to go.” There was so much love in his voice.

Frank Meintjies