Things That Are Silent, Rethabile Masilo’s first full-length poetry collection, is published by Pindrop Press in the UK. The result is a stunning work of art edited by poet and publisher Jo Hemmant
Voted poet laureate of the Internet, Masilo is a poet, writer, and human rights advocate well known to those of us who have ventured into the world of online poetry.
Though I found Masilo’s work via a virtual community, there is nothing virtual or second hand about the way he communicates in verse.
Rethabile Masilo connects directly and honestly with the reader through poems that stand on the courage of their own convictions.
The book begins with “Letter to Country,” a love song to the speaker’s homeland of Lesotho.
Lesotho is a mountainous land that is surrounded, as if it were an island, by South Africa. In his introduction, Masilo remembers his many family members who were killed during the political troubles in Lesotho.
These are poems with a social conscience, not only for the grief over the loss of the speaker’s father, but also for others throughout history who have endured oppression and brutality.
In spite of the suffering the speaker witnesses, the poems also express the joy of life, the beauty of the seasons, the mountains, sensuality, and physical love.
The lines are musical, written with precision, care, and tenderness, displaying a deep sense of awareness of lyric language. As a US speaker of English, I enjoyed reading a smattering of African expressions, such as “bakkies” and the board game shax.
The bright red and blue cover art is by Lesotho artist Meshu Mokitimi, whose biographical notes are provided at the end of the collection. Mokitimi describes his style as being influenced by African Expressionists. The vibrant, strong lines of a woman sitting as if in contemplation sets the stage for these strong, contemplative poems.
These poems exist, not because they wanted to be, but because they had to be.
Rethabile (“Ret” to those who know him) writes about Africa-inspired literature at his blog, Poefrika
His book can be purchased directly from the publisher, Pindrop Press,
or Barnes and Noble.