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Call for Submissions: BKO Poetry & Literary Magazine, Mohale Mashigo edition


Guest editor: Ms. Tumelo Motaung
Poetry editor: Raphael d’Abdon

Featured writer: Mohale Mashigo (The Yearning, 2016, Intruders, 2018)

Thematic engagement

“Narrative discourses that heal. Is melancholy/distress/anger a necessary ingredient of great art/writing?”

We live in a deeply traumatised world, which recently has been further disturbed by the restrictions to individual and collective freedom attached to the spread of Covid-19, and by a recrudescence of brutality by the police and the army. 

In the midst of this global trauma visited upon women, they write; and rise. This continued meteoric rise of black women writers in South Africa, in the continent and diaspora is phenomenal. These authors are shaping and reshaping the literature landscape in ways, words and genres that stretch beyond simple definitions. And they are not only in trade publishing – but also in the self-publishing space – where they define (to some extent) their own rules and terms of engagement. These women are excellent writers; period – the gender pro(noun) is unnecessary. 

Mohale Mashigo is one such writer – edgy, brave and cutting-edge. In fact, she dislikes being called a writer. “I am not really a writer. I’m a storyteller. I love telling stories … whether it’s as a novel or a song” she says. Mashigo carries the poignance of Bessie Head and the clarity of Wame Molefhe. She writes from a place of lyrical beauty, unwavering drama, different kinds of pain and joy. She writes with complexity that expands if not blurs the limitations of simple theoretical definitions. Mohale kicks gender definitions in the teeth, in a clear defiance of restrictions placed on female authors. It is her brevity – and sensitivity – that nuances her writing in a unique way. Her lyrical dealing with the everyday mundane life – that “every South African can identify with” also makes her writing accessible and unpretentious. 

She defies and refuses to ascribe to the gendered nature of the literary space and how it erases the women from literature in general. She shudders at the mention of “women’s” book club or “chick-lit.” “Women can write anything,” she says. She jokes and says maybe we should call it “tit-lit” because we ‘write with our breasts…’ It is this brutality of truth that is the gem of Mohale’s narrative-making. It is her writing/story-telling honesty, and not the narcissistic feigned-pain, that is usually at the heart of the novel. 

This edition of BKO Poetry & Literature Magazine features this important author who – only at the beginning of her literary journey – has carved a truly unique literary voice. Kgomotso Carol Mashigo – pen-name Mohale Mashigo is a novelist born in Soweto. her novel, The Yearning (PanMacmillan, 2016) won the 2016 University of Johannesburg Prize for South African Debut Writing, opening new avenues for Mashigo; while her short story collection Intruders received wide acclaim. This was followed by the Philida Literary Award in 2016 – named in the honour of Andre Brink’s novel and protagonist by the same name (2012).  She is also the singer-songwriter, Blk Porcelain.

BKO Magazine calls for submissions of prose in line with this theme and in relation to the work of the featured author, Mohale Mashigo. We are soliciting long-form essays, personal essays, opinion pieces, review/critique of Mashigo’s work. 


You can submit a piece of feature writing that focuses solely on Mohale Mashigo’s writing/work/book. There is no limit for the length of this writing. This can be a review, critique, essay or an opinion piece. 


You can submit a piece of fiction – flash-fiction, short stories, book extract (if it is your own work). The word limit is 3000 words. The piece of writing can be in any South African language (preferably with an English translation).


You can submit an essay or opinion piece or an intellectual/academic piece of writing on the work of Mohale Mashigo or any other South African black woman author – old or young, past or current. If you submit the essay as an academic pursuit, you have to cite correctly and reference sources correctly.

Call for Poetry Submissions

Theme: “Poems That Heal”

In these challenging times, we all need healing, and poetry has been serving this purpose gracefully: online performances and poetry publications have mushroomed. From San Francisco to Pretoria poets have been at the forefront of a global network of sustenance, offering economic support to poets, and relief, hope and food for thoughts to millions of readers and viewers. 

In order to celebrate the poets’ role as healers, this issue of BKO Magazine focuses on the concept of “poetry therapy”; poems that heal.

Indigenous knowledge around the world has taught us that music, poetry and the spoken word have, from the beginning of human civilization, been used as therapeutic tools. Western academia, on the other hand, has developed the discipline of “poetry therapy” that studies the use of the written and spoken word to further therapeutic goals and enhance the well-being of individuals, families, couples, or groups. 

A type of expressive arts therapy, “poetry therapy” promotes growth and healing, and encompasses many activities, including the writing, the reading and the performance of poetry. The benefits of this therapy include increased self and interpersonal awareness, increased sense of validation in voicing one’s truth among others. It is used in a broad range of settings especially where people who have experienced trauma seek refuge.

In the light of this, BKO is looking for submissions on the theme “Poems That Heal”. It will consider poems rich in cathartic images, because the objective is to publish poetry of high quality that could be used by readers for self-healing, as well as by poetry therapy practitioners. 

To get some idea of what the editors are looking for, before submitting your works, please read poems such as “Go to the Limits of Your Longing” by Rainer Maria Rilke, “Storybeads” by Malika Ndlovu, “After Great Pain, A Formal Feeling Comes” by Emily Dickinson, “Miracle on St David’s Day” by Gillian Clarke, and “A Center” by Ha Jin (all available online). You might also want to have a look at this interview to Geri Chavis, Emeritus Professor at St. Kate’s and Past President of the National Association for Poetry Therapy (USA):

You can submit poems in any language (with an English translation). The poems must be maximum 2 pages each, typed in New Romans 12, single line spaced. Poems can be written in any official South African language, but should be submitted with an English translation.

Submission of material

You can send any of your submissions to with “BKO SUBMISSION” in the Subject line. 

Please also include a short third person biography (50 words max.). If you have a personal website, social media links, you can also include a link to them. 

The deadline for submission is August 29, 2020.

Writing sent after the deadline, or that does not adhere to the guidelines above will not be considered!

Previously published work will be considered, provided that you retain copyright and that they were published at least one year prior to submitting. Please acknowledge such previous publishing so that we can accredit it accordingly. Please also supply the place and date of publication. Simultaneous submissions are also welcome, but let us know if your work is accepted elsewhere. 

Authors retain full copyright and there is no pay for publication of accepted works.

No feedback from the editors and no rejection letters will be sent out. Acceptance letters will reach the authors by September 26, 2020.

We look forward to reading your work!

Editor-at-large: Phehello J Mofokeng
Publisher: Geko Publishing

About BKO Magazine

BKO Literature Magazine is published and owned by Geko Publishing (Pty) Ltd. It is a tri–monthly thought–leadership literature publication, devoted to imaginative work. It publishes short stories, poetry, experimental, flash fiction, essays (non–fiction) and other forms of creative non–fiction. We encourage original, brave, thoughtful and imaginative literary work that pushes the boundaries of genres; emphasising stepping out of the quotidian and encouraging writers to be political, opinionated and inventive in their storytelling. 

About Geko Publishing

Geko Publishing (Pty) Ltd is a 100% black-owned independent and seasoned publisher based in Johannesburg. Geko Publishing was started in 2007 and registered in 2014. It has been recognised for publishing cutting-edge literature that is relevant to modern Africa. In a period spanning over a decade, the company has published South African (English and vernacular) literature including fiction, poetry and biographies by some of the country’s multi-award-winning writers and academics. Geko Publishing is also the patron of the global Geko Mofolo Prize for Outstanding Fiction in Sesotho, administered and awarded in South Africa.

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