written by Rosabelle Boswell
In South Africa issues of identity remain a pressing concern and preoccupation. For some, the experience of feeling that one does not belong in South Africa, especially among Africans and African descendants, appears to be intensifying. In this first collection of poems, Rosabelle Boswell speaks of the many places in which ordinary Africans born outside of South Africa try to achieve belonging. They do so in the family context, the backyard, language, the meeting, familiar landscapes and dreams. The poems also foreground the tumult of emotions that rise from the experience of exclusion and the results of pressure when one must conform. There is panic and dislocation, desperation, fear and sense of marginality when one’s work and achievements are reduced to whether one is born in South Africa or not. According to the poet, in such a context, one can only achieve true freedom from the tyranny of belonging by psychologically walking away from the expectations of those in power and putting oneself in a ‘clearing’ where flexibility, openness and newness reside. The forest of expectations remains, but we can achieve temporary respite from it by walking away now and again. The collection spans two years of writing identity in a different form, poetry.