by Therese Hulme
Therese Hulme, did a great project in one of the most marginalised communities of South Africa. The project produced a play and some outstanding Afrikaans poetry that was self-published and received a very positive review from a poet that won one of the most prestigious poetry awards in the country: Ronelda S. Kamfer, winner of the 2009 Eugene Marais-prize, writes about piemp as follows: “When one grows up in a community where violences, gangs and drugs are part of daily routine, the good things are so special that one treasures it forever. For young people the hardest things are not the violence, the gangs and the helplessness – the hardest are the words. Words to say what is wrong, words to describe the pain with, the words to ask questions. The hardest of all is the lack of words. Poetry was for too long out of the reach of ordinary people – piemp brings it back home. piemp says silence is no answer.” This is such a prima example of the possibilities social construction holds for desolate spaces!
More About the Book:
Seven years ago I started working as a narrative counsellor in the working class ‘coloured’ neigbourhood Scottsville. Postgraduate studies at The University of South Africa had brought me to this community. At Petunia Primary, the local school, I was invited to share my knowledge of Afrikaans poetry with the children. The Grade sevens in mr Matthee’s Afrikaans language classes was delighted and moved by the reading of Breyten Breytenbach of his own poem “I will die and go to my father” on his “Mondmusiek” (‘Music of the mouth’) CD. So it came about that I invited the youngsters to try their hand at poetry.
One by one the thirteen year olds started to bring their own creative writing to me. As they discovered that they could write about anything, their poetry became word-parties stacked with of meat and cake. One day a boy brought a poem with the frigthening image of a gangster with a drangon tattoo on his arms in it. This poem became a play about the dangers of a drug called “Tik” (metamphetamine) in the Scottsville community. Each of the young writers wrote a scene for the play. The scenes were combined as well as edited over the years. This play called, Die Groot Gevaar (The Great Danger), appears at the back of the book. It was performed several times.