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CALL FOR SUBMISSIONS: Perennial words of Don Mattera (March – June 2021)


Submission deadline: 25 May 2021

One of South Africa’s influential poets is Donato Fransisco Mattera. Mattera’s work is perennial, and he has influenced a whole generation of South African writers. Mattera’s Memory is a Weapon is relevant now as it was when it was published in 1987 by the historical Ravan Press. His Azanian Love Song is a go-to poetry book for many other poets.

Mattera writing “uses images of a bloodied earth and a dying sun in juxtaposition with those of fruit, harvests and seasons. He rails at the injustice of apartheid, but declares that hate and vengeance only perpetuate vicious cycles of death and further retribution.” Mattera’s work reflects the apartheid times; it harks into the current and the future. He has written against the brutality and violence of apartheid. He was one of the most robust critiques of the apartheid establishment – as a journalist, activist and a poet. After 1994, Mattera’s poetic prowess did not abate. He has written about democracy, love, the black condition. As Bernad Magubane puts it, Mattera did not write about South Africa from the point of “contemplation, but the thick of the struggle.” Magubane gives reason to why Mattera was called the “Bard of the people’s liberation struggle.” Mattera’s work is intricate. It provides proper context to the racist past of South Africa. His narrative of Sophiatown remains an unparalleled and resolute authority on the slum-township demolished in the 1950s. This demolition and forced removal that sought to separate people by race motivated Mattera into political activism in action and his literature.

In Memory is the Weapon he says: “According to the racial statistics of apartheid South Africa, I am a second-generation Coloured: the fruit of miscegenation and of an in-between existence; the appendage of black and white. There are approximately four million other people like me – twilight children who live in political, social and economic oblivion and who have been cut off from the mainstream of direct interaction with both black and white people.” Identity, justice, equality, survival of all people – not just the “Coloured” – lie at the core of Don Mattera’s writing. His “politics of being coloured” is relevant today as it was when he penned his memoirs. The term “Coloured” is used sparingly and aware of its sometimes derogatory usage and dynamics surrounding it. It is a “grab-bag” terms that refers to South Africans of mixed parentage such as Mattera’s. Mattera’s grandfather was Italian, his grandmother Khoisan/Xhosa, his mother Motswana …

BKO Poetry and Literature Magazine, therefore, calls for submissions relating to the work of the towering grandfather of many poets in SA, Don “Bra Zinga” Mattera. We are looking for reflective essays, and opinion pieces related to Mattera’s work – from Memory is the Weapon, Azanian Love Song or his poems to his entire bibliography. The work must interrogate, engage and/or analyse his work. Personal reflective essays related to personal or performative encounters with Mattera are also welcome – chance encounters, lessons and anecdotes.

Poetry call for submissions

Theme: Memory

Memory is a fickle thing – yet it is so important. It is also strange – it can choose to ‘remember’ or ‘forget’ certain events, experiences. It can heighten other experiences, events or senses when we re-encounter them. It can take us to dark or bright places. It is a strange place where the borders of our present collides with our past; with what we know and what we do not know. It is the bank of our experiences. It is the storage of our lives, and it is a place of retention of information and impressions. Mattera wrote against the ‘totalitarian forgetting’ of the apartheid South Africa, but his project continues today. Mattera’s memory of his home of Sophiatown influences the theme for this edition. You are invited to submit poems that deals with the theme of memory without any limit to the treatment of the subject matter. The theme is broad and should be approached as such; or in a uniquely individual and personal way.

There is no word or length limit to poems. Poems are acceptable in all languages.

Submission guidelines

Your submission must have the following:

  • Send your submission to editor@bkomagazine.co.za
  • Full names or pseudonym as you want us to use it on the magazine
  • Email address and/or cell number
  • Title/heading of the submission
  • Use the name/title of your submission as the file name of your work. For example: Poetry-of-Don-Mattera.doc

Work must be submitted as follows:

  • Word document (No PDFs, JPEGs etc)
  • Arial 12pt font, single spacing
  • Clear paragraph breaks
  • Clear quotations where such is necessary or where other people’s work is quoted
  • If you reference other people’s work, please supply endnotes or a bibliography

If your work has been published elsewhere, please indicate the source and/or provide the link/URL/website of such source/reference. Such work may not be accepted if it is academic.

Do not:

  • Format the work; or decorate it
  • include images/photos in the Word document (you can attach them separately)
  • plagiarise
  • send more than five poems at a time. If you send five poems, do so in one document, NOT 5 separate documents.
  • be libellous or non-factual in your writing
  • submit PDFs or any other kind of document
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