Avbob Poetry: A creative lifeline in Women’s Month

This month, Avbob Poetry is celebrating women poets: “Melissa Sussens is a debut poet, writing strong and tender work about women’s reality – their love, mercy at work, and the relentless struggle against gender-based violence.”

You can read an interview with her here: A lifeline of creation in Women’s Month – with Melissa Sussens    

Melissa’s debut collection of poetry, Slaughterhouse, will be published by Karavan Press.

Cathy Park Kelly’s memoir, Boiling a Frog Slowly, shines a light on relational trauma, writes Joy Watson

David Whyte, the author of Consolations, reminds us that to be courageous is not necessarily to go anywhere or to do anything. It is to make conscious the things we already feel deeply and then to live through the unending vulnerabilities of its consequences. To be courageous is to seat our feelings deeply in the body and in the world, to be open to the unknown that begs us on. Boiling a Frog Slowly is an effervescent narrative of what happens when we dare to open up to the unknown, to move on. 

Daily Maverick Life

C.A. Davids interviews Karen Jennings for Electric Literature

When I think about writing, I think about words as stones and the end product as being a dry-stone wall or maybe a path made with stones. That is how the word should be; a path or a wall that everyone needs and everyone can use. You’re not picking up diamonds and creating a tiara for a few. This is the basic stuff of life: words and communicating. 

Electric Literature

Click here to read the interview: Electric Literature

“GAGMAN: Exposing the horrors through humour” by Jessica Abelsohn

Could you entertain the commandant if it meant your survival? Can we turn horror into art and, dare we say it, humour? This is the question that Gagman – a uniquely uncompromising book by revered cartoonist Dov Fedler and his daughter Joanne Fedler – poses.

Gagman is scattered with comedian’s notes. The first one opens with the lines: “You think you’re a tough audience? I’ve died more times than you’ve belched …”

It’s these words that set the tone for the book, a Holocaust story with a difference and its certainly not the kind of book one would associate with a political and satirical cartoonist. Yet, it is written and illustrated by acclaimed South African cartoonist Dov Fedler along with his daughter Joanne.

Continue reading: Australian Jewish News

Women power at Liberty Books

When Christy Weyer of Liberty Books mentioned the thematic connections she spotted between Cathy Park Kelly’s memoir, Boiling a Frog Slowly, and Penny Haw’s novel, The Wilderness Between Us, I was thrilled about the possibility of her exploring the themes in a conversation with the two authors. Last night, Christy made it happen, and it was magic! The three inspiring women spoke about relationships, abuse, survival and empowerment, and the people who gathered in the audience were enthralled.

Thank you, Christy, Cathy and Penny – and Liberty Books! And thank you to all who attended, especially those who shared their stories of abuse and survival.

We also celebrated the reprint of Cathy’s memoir, Boiling a Frog Slowly – congratulations, Cathy!

SA Jewish Report: ‘Dov Fedler’s Gagman makes its deadline’ by Peta Krost Maunder

When acclaimed veteran South African cartoonist Dov Fedler celebrated his 82nd birthday recently, he received a gift of the first copy of a book he had spent 35 years working on.

Titled Gagman, the book isn’t full of political and satirical cartoons as one would expect from Fedler, but a Holocaust story with a difference.

The book was conceived in 1985 when, said Fedler, “the story just jumped into my head” and he sat down and “wrote it in a flash”. The story is about a comedian in a concentration camp who survives by entertaining the commandant. “He would give his soul for a new joke,” said Fedler. “He knew that the moment he was no longer entertaining, he would die.”

Fedler said it took him until 1995 to understand where his idea had come from. “I was living on deadlines and every single day, I had to produce a cartoon and it had to be funny. If you break down the word deadline, you have dead and line. So, the story was a metaphor for myself times a thousand. It was me telling history and my story in a way.”

He revealed this recently in a video conversation with his daughter, Joanne, an accomplished author in her own right, and Lewis Levin, a family friend and the architect of the Johannesburg Holocaust & Genocide Museum.

“I felt like I grew up with Gagman,” Joanne said. “I remember my dad talking about him when I was a teenager and early adult. I remember writing a poem about him when my dad was 54, and now I’m 54.”

The project went on for many years and took on many iterations. “It wasn’t just the writing of the book but the many illustrations that took time, and it got to a point where it felt like the project was never going to come to fruition,” said Joanne.

Fedler battled to tell a story about someone who had lived through the camps, which wasn’t his own experience. However, the Holocaust certainly played a role in his life.

South African Jewish Report

Continue reading: South African Jewish Report