Poet Olivia Findlay returns to Durban, South Africa where she was raised, to deliver an evening of poetry and conversation at the iconic Ikes Bookshop.
Now based in Scotland, Findlay's successful first collection of poetry A Song to Keep was published by Scotland Street Press this year.
A Song to Keep is a spiritual journey through her childhood memories, her experience of motherhood and marriage and the effects of immigration. It explores the frailty and resilience of the human condition. Through the experience of being raised in South Africa, she explores the role of her grandmother, a jazz singer and mother of ten, and her influence on the culture of the family. Her mother, also a singer and avid reader, taught her that books were precious and encouraged her to perform in poetry competitions where she developed an early affinity with poetry. She brings that spirit of performance to this special event.
The title poem ‘A Song to Keep’ responds to the burdens and bonds of motherhood. The families in her community were all descendants of immigrants of many different nationalities. Her own family’s heritage includes African, Indian, Scottish, Irish, Mauritian and French. She addresses the issues of preserving culture, feelings of displacement and nostalgia in her poetry. She is the descendant of people who’s relationships were not always accepted by their families or communities. The Roman Catholic religious tradition underpins her work.
At its core, the collection addresses the struggles of forging a family that embraces all its cultural heritage. This book honours those whose songs she keeps.
Findlay will share these poems and others, including the one below written for the event:
All my longing is for you, Kwa-Zulu,
the rust-coloured dust of my flesh
I have been gone too long
and your rivers have wept me away
Yet I am full of you buried in my skin
I have tried to dig you out
to set fire to you
but that’s only left me burning
For I am still the child tucked in under your hills
even as I become unfamiliar
you hold onto ourknots
with scorched hands
Beyond all reasonable horizons you follow me,
breaking your waves on my shores
and your rust-coloured dust, clinging to my bare feet
makes all the world my home
The event is free entry, on 3 March 2022 at Ikes Bookshop in Durban. We look forward to welcoming you for an evening of lively and moving poetry.