Subscribe to Newsletter
Monthly Newsletter: Join more than 3,000 African literature enthusiasts!
Subscribe for African literature news, and receive a free copy of our "Guide to African Novels."

Welcome back to our weekly updates on new book finds. Feeling and Ugly by Danai Mupotsa is a gem.

Feeling and Ugly was published earlier this year by Impepho Press, an independent South African publishing company run by three women—Vangile Gantsho, Sarah Godsell, and Tanya Pretorius. As poets, thinkers, and activists, Gantsho, Godsell, and Pretorius are keenly aware of the need to create a space where African poetry can thrive unencumbered by debilitating barriers of entry, which can sometimes be a reflection of the ways in which the publishing industry thrives on patriarchal norms and assumptions. To that end, they are committed to publishing poetry and non-fiction primarily by African womxn and nurturing a pan-African and intersectional feminist ethos within which writers can share brave and honest stories. Mupotsa’s Feeling and Ugly is one of two titles in the press’s debut catalogue.

Mupotsa is a Harare-born poet and academic living in South Africa. Feeling and Ugly is a collection of poems she composed over two years, from 2016 to 2018.  In the book, she evokes the full force of experiences accumulated through different roles and stages of life—as a daughter, teacher, scholar, writer, activist.

The collection is, thus, both an interrogation and a celebration of these experiences and how they open up spaces for empathy. The more we experience the more we have things to share with others the more we can see through their eyes. Through her poems, Mupotsa envisions the kind of politics that could come out of empathy generated by the richness of our experience.

The poems in the collection are loaded with impactful imageries and emotional power. Poems like “Wedding Vows” and “Jealousy” expose the vulnerabilities of marital love. The poem titled “Subject of I” is a manifesto to the self, a declaration of its refusal to deny its brokenness and its capacity for triumph. “Undutiful Daughter” and “Recitatif/For My Daughter” explores the violence of influence that makes intergenerational relationship sometimes problematic.

As with any good poetry, questions about politics in this collection emerges out of the fertile grounds of individual experience. Mupotsa’s poems are as much about big questions regarding love, relationship, family, community, as they are a journey inward. As Lidudumalingani Mqombothi notes in the book’s foreword:

A majority of the poems are deeply personal, about infidelity, sexuality, parenting, and reading them one can feel the depths that Danai has gone into to unearth her own feelings, ones that I imagine many of us would rather not, and then she goes to perform the act of writing these feelings into beautiful poems.

The collection touches on a broad range of issues, each woven from the fabric of imagery and language conveying moments of intimacy and intensities of feelings and emotion.

Mupotsa’s Feeling and Ugly presents femininity as a complex framework for thinking about how private life intersects with politics. It shows how through poetry, something as ubiquitous as feeling becomes a powerful means of conveying as much as transcending the ugly side of life. Under the transformative power of poetic language, the capacity to feel and communicate what one feels become this truly impactful way of channeling pain, memory, and the joyfulness of feminist vision.

Feeling and Ugly is available at African Flavour Books in Braamfontein. Email Imphepho Press (getinfo@impephopress.co.za )for inquiries about getting copies at other locations.

 

 

Tags: ,

I hold a doctorate in English from Duke University and recently joined the Marquette University English faculty as an Assistant Professor. I love teaching African fiction and contemporary British novels. Brittle Paper is the virtual space/station where I play and experiment with ideas on how to reinvent African fiction and literary culture.

No comments yet.

Leave a Reply

Welcome to Brittle Paper, your go-to site for African writing and literary culture. We bring you all the latest news and juicy updates on publications, authors, events, prizes, and lifestyle. Follow us on Twitter and Instagram (@brittlepaper) and sign up for our "I love African Literature" newsletter.

Monthly Newsletter!

Subscribe for African literature news, and receive a free copy of our
"Guide to African Novels."

Archives

Night and Again | Salvy Snr | Fiction

Guitar 1200 x 630

  * The nights are gathering, quickly, and you’ve been sitting on this silent bench in the front yard concrete […]

Photos | Leila Aboulela Launches New Novel at the Lahore Lit Festival

Leila Aboulela

The seventh annual Lahore Literary Festival (LLF) took place from Feb. 22 to 24 at the Alhamra Arts Center, Mall […]

A Place is Illuminated in and by Absence | Emmanuel Iduma & Kọlá Túbọ̀sún in Conversation

Emmanuel Iduma and Kola Tubosun

Emmanuel Iduma is the author of two books, Farad/A Sound of Things to Come (2012) and A Stranger’s Pose (2018). […]

#PoetryTalk | Different Poems Travel Different Routes | Interview with Toyin Adewale-Gabriel

Toyin Adewale-Gabriel

Toyin Adewale-Gabriel is a Nigerian poet, short story writer, literary critic and activist. She was cofounder and coordinator for several […]

Here is How to Join Netflix and Triggerfish’s All-African Team of Female Writers

Desert 1200 x 630 (1)

You may have heard the news about Netflix picking up Malenga Mulendema’s Mama K’s Team 4, an animation story about […]

Netflix Acquires Mama K’s Team 4, A Futuristic Animation Series Set in Zambia

Desert 1200 x 630

Netflix has acquired rights to stream Mama K’s Team 4. An animation series set in a futuristic Lusaka, the story chronicles […]

Thanks for signing up!

Never miss out on new posts. Subscribe to a digest, too:

No thanks, I only want the monthly newsletter.