Yesterdays and Imagining Realities: An Anthology of South African Poetry is produced through a continued partnership between the French Institute of South Africa (IFAS) and impepho press with the support of Total SA. This new anthology of poetry honours stories from the past, and projects hope for the future through the voices of young South African poets.

The anthology gathers 30 poems from poets under 30, to remember and dream this complicated country onto paper.

Yesterdays and Imagining Realities: An Anthology of South African Poetry will be launched on Sunday, 21 March 2021, as part of the 24th edition of the Time of the Writer International Festival, presented by the University of KwaZulu Natal’s Centre for Creative Arts (CCA).

Yesterdays and Imagining Realities An Anthology of South African Poetry

Panel of experts

The selection panel of poetry experts included Tshefhiwa Mukwevho, Nakanjani Sibiya, Toni Giselle Stuart and vangile gantsho. The anthology features work in five South African languages – English, Afrikaans, Zulu, Xhosa and Venda – and each poem is presented in English, as well as its original language.

Translations were carried out by Domina Munzhelele (tshiVenda), Kwazi Ndlangisa (isiZulu), Mbongeni Nomkonwana (isiXhosa), Pieter Odendaal (Afrikaans) and Sabelo Soko (isiZulu).

The cover was designed by artist Banele Khoza. Original work by Keneilwe Mokoena, Pebofatso Mokoena and Mxolosi Dolla Sapeta appears inside. All three were commissioned to create pieces that resonated with the theme and the poetry.

Poets included in the anthology are: Anathi Jonas, Angela Mthembu, Annathea Oppler, Bongeka Nkosi, Busisiwe Mahlangu, Cebolenkosi Nkosi, Claire Mary Taylor, Jennifer Sheokarah, Keith Lewis, Kylin Lötter, Masindi Netshakhuma, Masoodah Mohamed, Mazwi Shazi, Mbasa Tsetsana, Mthabisi Sithole, Nqobile Lombo, Ntsako Mlambo, Nteska Masoabi, Olivia Botha, Ronewa Mukwevho, Sarah Lubala, Thandolwethu Gulwa, Tshifhiwa Itai Ratshiungo, Wade Smit, Xabiso Vili and Zizipho Bam.

“We invited young poets from South Africa to submit their original, unpublished poems, inspired by the theme ‘Archiving of Imaginary Stories’,” says Selen Daver, Cultural attaché of the French Embassy. “We received almost 400 entries and were delighted to announce the 30 poems at last year’s Poetry Africa festival organised by the Centre for Creative Arts.”

“The theme resonates with the Africa 2020 Season in France programme, asking poets to explore, for example, how different narratives relate to the history of the world, how do we identify missing narratives in those stories and how is memory passed on and for what purpose?” says Daver.

Masindi Netshakhuma. Picture: Andani Tshikhudo
Masindi Netshakhuma. Picture: Andani Tshikhudo

World Poetry Day 

The launch date fittingly coincides with World Poetry Day and South Africa’s Human Rights Day.

“We are proud to be collaborating with the French Institute of South Africa and Total SA to bring this book to life,” says impepho press publisher vangile gantsho. “impepho press is committed to archiving African stories while preserving indigenous languages. What a gift it is to witness this country through the imagination of young creatives.”

The launch of Yesterdays and Imagining Realities: An Anthology of South African Poetry includes live readings from Mazwi Shazi and Masindi Netshakhuma. There will be a discussion between literary vlogger Linda Kaoma, translator Sabelo Soko and gantsho, and a word from Toni Giselle Stuart.

Join the launch of Yesterdays and Imagining Realities: An Anthology of South African Poetry on 21 March from 3pm to 4.30pm streamed live on the Time of the Writer Facebook page, Twitter (@timeofthewriter) or It will also be streamed on the IFAS and impepho press Facebook pages.

Buy Yesterdays and Imagining Realities: An Anthology of South African Poetry at The Commune (Braamfontein) and Exclusive Books nationwide; or directly from impepho press for R180 (excl. postage).

What: Time of the Writer Festival
When: 15 – 21 March 2021
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