‘A Circle of Women’ by Tracey Randle

Tracey Randle kindly shared with us this beautiful poem she was challenged to write. See which Karavan Press title is woven into the fabric of her ode to bookclubs, women and reading:

A circle of women

A circle of women facing each other might look like:
An embroidered cloth found in a forgotten museum store
Their names pulled in and out in cotton
As fingers and minds met each week
To sew something of themselves into the
collective cloth  

A circle of women facing each other might look like:
towers of books piled up like small mountains
the names of writers and poets pulled in and out
As fingers quietly turned pages
To read something of themselves in the
collective stories

A circle of women facing each other might look like:
all the hopes and dreams and fears they carry
of when breath becomes air
sewn into a cloth or told through another book’s story
As fingers and minds meet
Taking notes on grief
Daring greatly to speak something of their louding voices into the 
collective space

A circle of women facing each other might look like:
A starless sea of stories filled with 
empty champagne flutes and a stack of china plates smeared with crumbs
washing up on a hibiscus coast
A garden light flashing on and off in the night
As the oak leaves and nighttime birds catch their laughter
Recognising that on earth we are briefly gorgeous

A circle of women facing each other might look like:
All the embroidered cloths our grandmothers have ever made
All the towers of books women have discussed together
while thinking up a hurricane
A line of tears caught in thread
A seam of hope woven in a tapestry
A string of words that prevents the great alone 
We are so much more than girl, women, other
Where the pull of the stars shows us 
The wonder of acceptance

To read more about Tracey click here: Cape Herstorian

Thank you, Tracey, for reading and sharing ‘A circle of women’ with us.

A Hibiscus Coast by Nick Mulgrew wrapped in a tablecloth crocheted by my (Karina’s) great-grandmother.

“Stillness is leaking from stone and concrete” by Stephen Symons

Stillness is leaking from stone and concrete

Whether night or day
the world seems paused at 4AM —

Somewhere a grey priest
is ringing a church bell,
practicing for that moment
when the clocks cast off this spell.

I once gave a family
a jigsaw puzzle to pass the time
and now wonder if they ever
discovered it was missing
a single piece of sky.

Across the city, an old man
is watching that piece of sky
slide from the landscape on his curtains,
while next door, two lovers have become
the mapmakers of their own bodies.

Stillness is leaking
from stone and concrete
into the streets,
so each pool of reflection
is a duplicate earth distilled of humanity.

Most of the voices we know
have turned to dust and breadcrumbs,
snaring sunlight on the
floorboards of empty hallways.

Slowly, nature is making a temporary
comeback of clarity and vengeance
until each minute is missing a second
and each hour, a minute.

Eventually, all those seconds and minutes
will add to something
that is neither night nor day,
something closer to the purity
of a ticking clock in darkness,
marking that moment we
cast off the spell
before sleep,

and once again,

the streets will be full
of the languages
and laughter of countries
returning to blindness.


Stephen Symons is a graphic designer and poet. He holds an MA in Creative Writing and a PhD in Historical Studies. His poetry, essays and short-fiction have been published in journals, magazines and various anthologies, locally and internationally, including Prufrock, Carapace, Stanzas, New Contrast, New Coin, uHlanga, Aerodrome, Poetry Potion, The Kalahari Review, LitNet, Badilisha Poetry, Wavescape and Patricia Schonstein’s Africa anthology series. His short stories have also appeared in the Short.Sharp.Stories anthologies (2015, 2016 and 2017), amongst other anthologies and magazines. His unpublished collection, Spioenkop, was listed as a semi-finalist for the Hudson Prize for Poetry (US) in 2015. A selection of his poems was selected for an international anthology of contemporary poetry, titled A World Assembly of Poets (2017). Stephen’s debut collection of poetry, Questions for the Sea, was published in 2016 by uHlanga Poetry Press and received an honourable mention for The Glenna Luschei Prize for African Poetry in 2017. His second collection of poetry, Landscapes of Light and Loss, was published in 2018 by Dryad Press. He lives in Oranjezicht with his wife and two children.

Stephen has designed (cover and typesetting) the following books for Karavan Press: