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Two Videos: Sandile Dikeni Reads from Planting Water

Planting WaterSandile DikeniCall him “the comeback poet”. Sandile Dikeni, the writer who reached near-iconic status at the turn of the century for his poetry and journalism, was involved in a catastrophic accident two years ago. But with Planting Water, launched last year, he announced his return to the craft – and the writer’s life – that he loves.

Today, Dikeni speaks softly, warmly, often breaking into recitations of poems he recalls. We’re pleased to bring you two videos of him reading, taken earlier this week at Don Pedro’s in Woodstock, Cape Town. (In the 1980s, the restaurant was a gathering place for artists and poets of all races; it remains a fond haunt for Dikeni.) Please see below to view them.

Dikeni began writing poetry during his detention for anti-apartheid activities in 1986. When prison guards discovered his poems, they beat him. “I was never so sorry that I wrote poetry,” he says. “Okay, they didn’t like it. So that’s when I decided that’s what I wanted to do.” He wrote his poems on toilet paper and flushed them every night after reciting them to other prisoners in the ward.

Planting Water collects new work, plus poems from his past two collections (1992′s Guava Juice and 2000′s Telegraph to the Sky). He sees the newer poems printed as moving away from particularly South African problems to universal politics.

Sandile Dikeni: Two Videos

“Love poem for my country” first appeared in Guava Juice; “Manuella” (about a girl Dikeni met in South America) is previously unpublished.

“Love Poem for My Country”

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“Manuella”

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