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Kerry Hammerton

@ Sunday Times Books LIVE

How I became a poet by Annette Snyckers

Last year I challenged Annette Snyckers to write a series of essays with me in 2016…. here is her first one on becoming a poet. The challenge is simple we will write a number of personal essays on different topics through out the year..


How (I think) I became a Poet by Annette Snyckers

All children are poets at heart. Some are lucky, like me, and grow up close to nature. They carry with them forever the images that later inspire words. I grew up in a city on the edge of a nature reserve. We kept a half drum of dried mealies in the shed and my mother grew a patch of lucerne at the back of our terraced garden for the animals that came down to our fence. Today that would be frowned upon, considered meddling with Nature. But then it gave me a sense of responsibility, of caring for something – a sense of wonderment above all, as those blue-grey tongues of the Eland delicately licked the treats from my small hands. The reserve was one of the few “koppies” or flat-topped hills on the plains of the Free State. As there were no predators, I was allowed to climb the big tree on our side of the fence and let myself down along a low-hanging branch into the veld on the other side – into another world.

During the summer holidays we went camping… the rest of this essay can be found here:

Writing a series of short personal essays

Last year I challenged artist and poet Annette Snyckers to write a series of short personal essays during 2016 with me. The rules are simple we will alternate the choice of topic; the length of piece and how we interpret the theme is up to us.

We have written our first essays – on the topic of becoming a poet. This is the introduction to the short essay I wrote…. (I will post Annette’s essay next week):

On Being a Woman Poet

Why did I pursue this idea of being a poet? A woman poet? What is a poet? What is a woman? Both of those words (Woman. Poet.) invoke different ideals and meanings – it depends on who you ask, on who asks the question.

I read a tweet recently that said (I am paraphrasing) you can’t gender label yourself ‘woman’ unless you embody the characteristic of always caring for someone else before yourself. The person tweeting was making the point that woman are generally socialised in this way. Is this what characterises a woman?

The rest of this post can be found on my personal blog:

Week Four #readwomen #womenwriters

This has been a bumper week of posts with recommended reads by women writers – nine writers and eleven recommendations

This is a summary of the week:

Week Four

Keep a look out this week for a reflective blog post on the #womenwriters #readwomen month of August.

28. #womenwriters #readwomen Joanne Hichens recommends…

‘Being a supporter of South African fiction, I want to recommend Henrietta Rose-Innes latest novel, Green Lion.

Compelling, and tightly written, a page-turner peopled by characters I believe in. It’s a story of loss, and healing, and shows all too clearly a changing world. Yet there is still beauty to be found in the places we live, and people are still able to show compassion.

I’m also dipping into Sindiwe Magona’s poetry collection Please, Take Photographs. The poem which forms the title of the book, is especially poignant. Take photographs, and put them on the walls, So the image of the dear face will love forever on.’


Joanne’s latest book is Divine Justice, published by Mercury, the fiction imprint of Burnet Media. The latest instalment in the Rae Valentine series of crime thrillers, Sweet Paradise is on the way…

Follow Joanne on Twitter: @joannehichens

Or Facebook: Joanne Hichens – Writer


Writer, mother, taxi service, provider of take-aways, friend, and some-time lover. The lines blur between truth and lies, and truth is often harder to bear than fiction. Sweet Paradise follows crime-thriller Divine Justice, and is the second in the Rae Valentine trilogy. I’m currently working on a deathday memoir towards a PhD. My husband died last year, a great tragedy. I miss him so much, and maybe writing about it will help in some way. I also curate the Short.Sharp.Stories Awards, a project I’m truly proud to be associated with. Short.Sharp.Stories provides a publishing platform for established and new writers of short stories. There’s a great first prize too – R20 000.

More about Joanne can be found on her website or the Short Sharp Stories website:


27. #womenwriters #readwomen Rachel Zadock recommends…

Station Eleven by Emily St John Mandel. I love a good apocalypse novel as they examine humanity pushed to the brink, and what becomes of humans once we lose that which makes us civilized. Station Eleven goes a step further and asks if it is possible to cling to our humanity through the arts.’


Rachel ZadockRachel’s latest book is Sister-Sister (2014 Kwela Books).

You can follow Rachel on twitter: @rachelzadok

or Facebook: Rachel Zadock

Rachel Zadok is a writer and the founder of Short Story Day Africa, a platform for African fiction. She is the author of two novels, Gem Squash Tokoloshe and Sister-Sister, both of which were nominated for several literary awards.


More about Rachel can be found on her blog:


26. #womenwriters #readwomen Lisa Lazarus recommends…

‘I’m currently reading The Fetch by Finuala Dowling. Sharply-observed but affectionate towards its characters, the novel reminds me why reading can be so much more pleasurable than endless internet surfing.

I’m also a fan of memoir, honestly told. Here I’d recommend Rachel Cusk’s intelligent, insightful and terribly funny A Life’s Work: On Becoming a Mother. It proved to me that the thoughts of others can sometimes save one in times of crisis.’


Greg LazarusLisa writes books with philosopher and husband Greg Fried. Their latest novel Paradise was published by Kwela (2014). She has written one other novel with Greg When in Broad Daylight I Open My Eyes (Kwela, 2012) and a memoir: The Book of Jacob: A Journey into Parenthood (Oshun, 2009).

Follow Lisa on Twitter:@surazal39

Or Facebook: Lisa Lazarus

Lisa trained as a psychologist but now works as a writer and teacher. She has written for publications including Men’s Health, Femina, Shape, Cosmopolitan, Cape Town’s Child, Psychologies, and Mail & Guardian. She also tutors Magazine Journalism, Feature Writing and Memoir Writing for SA Writers’ College.

More about Lisa can be found on her blog:

25. #womenwriters #readwomen Tania Terblanche recommends…

Lemon Grove‘The book I’m recommending is a short story collection by Karen Russell called Vampires in the Lemon Grove. My feelings about this book are quite simple – I found it beautiful, evocative, melancholy and more imaginative than most things I’ve encountered. What I think makes it masterful is how she managed to create complete universality through the emotions at the center of each piece, even though the situations seem absurd. The stories made me feel connected to what it’s like to be a person, in whatever body or setting that person may live.’


Tania Terblanche is a writer from Pretoria, South Africa, where she works in engineering to fuel her ideas for worlds and artefacts that don’t exist yet and to season her in creating systems of her own. She is currently completing her MA in Creative Writing at Rhodes University and loves stories because they are secret and beautiful and sometimes more true than anything.

24. #womenwriters #readwomen Fiona Snyckers recommends…

‘A book I would recommend is Invisible Others by Karina M. Szczurek. It is a fascinating examination of the tendency of the male gaze to inscribe its own narrative onto the female object of desire.’


FionaFiona’s new book is called Now Following You. It will be released by Modjaji Books in September:

“Jamie Burchell is a digital native – social media comes as naturally to her as breathing. She Instagrams, tweets and Facebooks her every move.
Then a stalker starts using social media to track her movements. As his behaviour escalates, so does her fear. But her blog has never been more popular. The fans can’t get enough of reading about her stalker. She is closer than ever to achieving her dream of becoming a writer. Should she take herself offline out of fear for her own safety or should she refuse to be intimated?

Soon the stalker starts threatening the people she cares about. But now it’s too late for Jamie to go offline, because he is already following her in real life.”

Follow Fiona on twitter: @FionaSnyckers

Fiona Snyckers is the author of the ‘Trinity’ series of novels and the ‘Sisterz’ series of mobile novels. She has also published several short stories. Her fourth novel is called ‘Now Following You’ and will be published by Modjaji Books in September. She lives in Johannesburg.

More about Fiona can be found on her ebsite is

23. #womenwriters #readwomen Arja Salafranca recommends…

‘There are always so many, but I’ll stick to a book I read recently: From the Fifteenth District: Stories by Mavis Gallant. Gallant was a Canadian writer who made her life in Europe from the 50s, writing exquisite longish short stories, my favourite kind. The ones in this volume, first published in 1979, and now re-released in digital format, are peopled by ordinary characters, ordinary but for the fact that they are caught at the crossroads of European history, and their lives are shaped by the lengthy shadow of the second world war. A brilliant collection to get lost in. This is how I ended my review of the collection: “Gallant’s talent in this wonderful collection shines a powerful beam over these lives, over moments, days, decades where the world turns, and lives spin and change in the tumult of the times and all that’s left is to hold on, and accept.”



Arja Salafranca portrait 2Arja’s latest poetry collection is Beyond Touch published by Modjaji Books


Follow Arja on twitter: @ArjaSalafranca

Or Facebook:


Arja Salafranca has published three collections of poetry, Beyond Touch published this year, and a collection of short stories, The Thin Line. She has participated in writers conferences, edited two anthologies and has received awards for her poetry and fiction.


More about Arja can be found on her blog

22. #womenwriters #readwomen Paige Nick recommends…

My Children Have Faces, Carol Lesley Campbell. This novel took me by surprise. What a gem. Carol’s second novel Esther’s House is also truly special. Basically if Carol Campbell wrote something on a napkin, I’d read it.’


Pens behaving badlyPaige Nick’s latest book is Pens Behaving Badly (Kwela 2015), a selection of the best of Paige Nick’s hilarious Sunday Times columns and their wacky responses.

Follow Paige on Twitter: @paigen

and Facebook: Paige Nick

Paige Nick is a Sunday Times columnist, award-winning advertising copywriter, and author of two critically acclaimed novels. She is also one third of Helena S. Paige, together with Sarah Lotz and Helen Moffett. A threesome of authors with a series of choose-your-own-adventure erotic novels, now out in 21 countries. Pens Behaving Badly, a collection of her Sunday Times columns and the wild letters they’ve inspired is in stores now. Paige lives in Cape Town, where she spends an unhealthy amount of time writing. She hates spiders, cellulite and plastic forks and gravitates towards shoes and unsuitable men.

More about Paige can be found on her website: