The AVBOB Poetry Competition | Blog


The familial narrative: Linda Ann Strang writes against forgetting    
13 days ago

For South Africans, family comes first, no matter what. On International Day of Families (15 May) AVBOBPoetry marks the event with Eastern Cape poet, Linda Ann Strang.
Linda Ann Strang is an internationally recognised poet with two poetry collections to her name. Her finely crafted and elegant poetry embraces the complex nature of contemporary family dynamics. She offers neither romantic nor sanitised notions of relationships, but an authentic and robust investigation into the human capacity for psychic destruction as well as desire and emergence into life and hope.
Her luminous poems reveal the family as the place where we get our best chance of being nurtured and yet also the locality where we lose innocence. The task of finding and recreating ourselves is done in the context of family too. Because couples in the contemporary nuclear family uncouple at an alarming rate, the family as a social construct is not universally benevolent. The place we land when we are born is ours to make right – and, for Strang, to write!
Strang interrogates the female psyche in response to the human connections that affirm our existence. She touches on couples coming together in Eros even when they face fragmentation or conflict.
In her first poetry collection, Wedding Underwear for Mermaids (2011), her mystical feminist take on womanhood and motherhood blends the language of fairy tales and South African folklore with images of mermaids – a metaphor for marginalised women. Strang’s collection Star Reverse (Dryad Press, 2022) is a powerful exploration of the rewards and perils of intimacy.
Her “Mother and Child Understory” is an example of this:
In my feral fantasies
of American hemlock,
you should have been born
in Olympic Park:
amber manoeuvres
of butterflies felt
through amniotic fluid;
child of a fiddlehead,
dogwoods, ardour,
rhododendron, dog star, other;
moss on the rocks
to mattress my travail,
volcanic sand
beneath my fingernails.
All the living must rise above
the lochia-scented layette of blood –.
then received by yttrium,
and other rare earths, the afterbirth.
Hummingbirds to fan your face,
bright-eyed beadles,
fern vernix the bed,
butterfly midwives – 
my Hades princess.
Strang often finds herself writing “... as a form of activism, trusting that the helpless will not be forgotten.” In keeping with this, Strang is co-founder and editor-in-chief of Hotazel Review. Her personal artistic philosophy defines this online literary and visual arts journal that connects the African experience with global aesthetics. “How can we encourage a sense of belonging to bloom in place of absence?” asks Strang. 
The AVBOB Poetry Project invites writers to express their experiences of creating meaningful connections with and through their families, both chosen and inherited.
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