Who is Abigail George?
Abigail was raised in a family of educationalists and schooled in Port Elizabeth in the Eastern Cape, South Africa, Swaziland and Johannesburg.
She is an author, essayist, memoirist, a feminist, poet and short story writer. She is an aspiring novelist and playwright. She contributes to a symposium that appears bimonthly on Ovi Magazine: Finland’s English Online Magazine.
My flesh, my blood and your stem ill and bitter
Sink deep into your grave my little bold skinned flower
So small with your weak limbs heiress in your mother’s arms
You killed an angel you filthy exotic paranoid foreigner
With your orange silks, bangles at your wrists.
Known beloved, known neurotic will you ever be forgiven?
In death both of you will thrive at Ted Hughes’s bone-clinic
And you will whisper that
war your majesty is a crime.
My dreamer, love poem, sonnet and my shell, my hell.
Death is a monster, a shell, while the sea is a ghost.
The air is beautiful isn’t it like a Paris soul, after a killing.
The combinations of water in a glass, the clarity of words,
A white meringue of a beautiful dress, is it mine, is it mine?
My stories are fragmentary, my poetry is terrible because
I say it is so it is so. My love for you is a blank thrill.
It is dying. Shame. But I have brought it upon myself you see.
I dislike my conversation. I’ve drilled it into myself. Gas.
This emptiness. Talent is my enemy. I wish to cry. You have left.
Regard me no more as lover. I will take the promises you made
To the grave. You will stand at the mouth of it, its purse.
Together Shura and I will rest in eternity. I will cling to her.
I do not need your soul. Our spirits are clouds, numb, celestial.
Everything, the earth is diminishing in front of my eyes.
People have become puppets. Winter has power over my mood.
There is no man on the moon. He has disappeared for good.
The angels have seen to that. Only a feminist remains. She is fair.
She is my gift to you, to Shura. No more harm will come to us now.
My mouth is frozen. My lips are blue with cold. My limbs, my limbs.
I cannot feel them. You chiselled them out of thin air of ghosts.
I am distancing myself more and more away from you. Evaporate.
Your father is responsible for this. I am off the edge. Leaning
Towards bleeding intelligently, rain is a feast and so is morals.
But you knew nothing of the latter brute, beast, traitor, and coward.
It hurts that you hurt me and that you hurt Shura too.
But what is pain my lotus flower? But sacrifices have to be made.
Why always the vulnerable, the wounded, the sick and troubled?
My beauty was accidental until glaciers came between us.
I wish I had destroyed you now, not romanced, and not seduced you.
Now I only have the capacity within me for spring, to swim.
Tel Aviv and Canada both distant memories I trained myself to grow wise.
The night is different now. I feel it all the time. Shura in my arms.
We are both prisoners. I can never make plans. She will never grow old.
Ted Hughes’s ugly duckling will never grow into a swan.
She, my Shura will never fall in love and whose fault is that.
© Abigail George
Abigail’s phenomenal literary work experience includes:
• Writer at Drum Beat Media. (Africa Where Art Thou, Feeding the Beasts, Winter in Johannesburg).
• Writer at Mwanaka Media and Publishing. (The Scholarship Girl, Parks and Restoration, Of Bloom and Smoke).
• Praxis Magazine. (The Anatomy of Melancholy).
• Editor at Drum Beat Media. (Give Yourselves No Rest, From Hell to Eternity).
• Poetry Editor at African Writer.
• Contributing Editor at African Writer.
• Wrote for a symposium in Finland for a year (Ovi Magazine: Finland’s English Online Magazine).
• Blogger (Goodreads and Modern Diplomacy), diarist and memoirist.
• Columnist (Go Magazine).
• Playwright, fulltime poet (The Anatomy of Melancholy, Of Bloom and Smoke), novelist. (Island of the Honest Man, The Mind and Times of a Poet, The Revolutionary)
• Freelance writer and short story writer. (Stories archived at the British Museum).
• Screenwriter, producer, director. (Island of the Honest Man, Bang Bang Son of a Gun). Achievements
• She writes for Modern Diplomacy and contributed to a symposium on the Ovi Magazine: Finland’s English Online Magazine.
• Her literary endeavours have been anthologised in Being Bipolar: Stories from Those Living with the Disorder and Those Who Love Them by Rachel Ellen Koski (Editor), Poems for Haiti (Poets Printery), a South African Writer’s Circle anthology, the Sentinel Annual Literature Anthology and The Sol Plaatje EU Poetry Anthology IV (Jacana Media).
Going All The Way With It
Head bowed at the desk.
Stop talking. You’re no longer special.
Notebook in hand. Rilke and Hemingway
In my head. Always in my head.
Their empires have become mine.
Their knowledge has become mine.
What masters of observation, lessons, intimacy.
Their breath has become my breath.
They cut me with their small details
Because they were both tough in their own way.
I wonder what they thought of the feminine writer.
The female poet suffered too.
They sowed brave seeds and planted weather.
She discovered that clay was grand.
And having a husband and children too.
These poets they feel things. They see things.
They are prophets and chefs too.
Memorising recipes in the kitchen.
And their words come to them in whispers, mother-tongue.
Men of that generation thought it was strange
For a woman to write, to have that kind of knowledge.
And if women were not brave enough they gave it all up.
Stupid stars how I love them.
How I love to worship them.
Diamonds that are broken off into pieces.
What is poverty anyway? It is not a crime.
I don’t want love, any of it and that is the truth.
I don’t want to be worshipped or admired.
And that is also the truth. Ship the news off.
Insomnia means nothing and everything to me.
In youth, perhaps I was more beautiful then
Than I am now. Now I live with regret.
And it is bitter like thoughts of suicide.
Watching someone bleeding to death is a horrible bore.
Or even in the sight of yourself in the eyes of someone you love.
Can I get anything useful from it I ask myself?
Here bleeding is a metaphor for such is war and battles.
The written word, love at first magical sight.
Loneliness, morning, waking up alone, the sight of a lake
No people swimming in it or on it in sight. No beasts about.
And when you remember and when you remember not to forget.
There was no fish on Easter Sunday. Daddy was very upset, sad even.
After leaving Mr Hughes there was nothing left of me.
But love can do that to you.
© Abigail George
• She blogs at Abigail George’s blog on Goodreads and Modern Diplomacy. Her work has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize (2014) and Best of The Net (2019).
• She has had mostly poetry and short fiction published online in ITCH and other print journals and magazines (Botsotso, Carapace, Echoes Literary Journal, Kotaz, LitNet, New Contrast, Ons Klyntji, Sun Belly Press, Timbila, Tribute, Upbeat and Writing Works A Portal for South African Writers and Poets) in South Africa.
• She is an author, essayist, memoirist, a feminist, poet and short story writer. She is an aspiring novelist and playwright. She contributes to a symposium that appears bimonthly on Ovi Magazine: Finland’s English Online Magazine.
• She, together with her father are busy putting the finishing touches to her father’s biography, ‘From Hell to Eternity: A Memoir of Madness.
• She has written a noveltini (Blood and Water), novella (Are You There God Listening), volumes of poetry (Africa Where Art Thou and Feeding the Beasts which was launched at the National Arts Council), and collections of short stories. A book series is forthcoming.
• She is the recipient of two National Arts Council writing grants for poetry and manuscript development, one from the Centre for the Book in Cape Town for another poetry volume and another from the Eastern Cape Provincial Arts and Culture Council based in East London for a collection of short stories.
• She has been published online in other countries from Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa, Turkey, Zimbabwe, to Canada, England, Finland, France and the United States.
• Ovi: Finland’s English Online Magazine brought out a collection of her short stories (All About my Mother) in an e-book which is free to download in 2012, and another (Brother Wolf and Sister Wren)
• Her poetry has been described as being ‘a penetrating view of the psyche of the post-apartheid youth. It is not about apartheid: it is about the selfishness and individualism of the rich. It is not about gender issues: it is about the pain, loss and survival of a numbed youth whom suicide personified overwhelms, yet they paradoxically still feel invincible. The seasons speak to the fragile, fleeting nature of relationships of the youth; their rootlessness; authority that they view as unstable and adults as vacant; a seemingly unattainable purity that they seek; while uttering a clarion call to ‘see me, know me’. Penetrating, profound, intense and grave’, by educationalist Dorelle Isaacs.
• Abigail George studied film and television production for a short while, which was followed by a brief stint as a trainee at a production house. She is not purely devoted to poetry but to pursuing writing fulltime. Storytelling for her has always been a phenomenal way of communicating and making a connection with other people.
• She writes in English and Afrikaans. She is a member of PEN SA. Her books are available at Hunterscraig Private Hospital, South End Museum, Cory Library at Rhodes University, primary and high schools in the Northern Areas of the Eastern Cape area of Port Elizabeth, the 22 libraries of the Nelson Mandela Metropole, and Forgarty’s Bookshop.
• She briefly studied filmmaking at the Newtown Film and Television school opposite the Market Theatre in Johannesburg. Afterwards that experience and education was followed by even briefer periods studying business administration, and creative writing through correspondence, and which was followed by an apprentice year at a Bible School at Word of Faith in Port Elizabeth.
They will eventually say nothing of my poetry
He was good at it then and even now this voyager.
I had to go to pieces the afternoon delight.
Perhaps if I had been rich, a funny girl, classy and brilliant.
It would have been a different matter, significant.
Perhaps if I had not told him how much I loved him.
Perhaps he would have loved me back then even more.
Perhaps he would have married me, called me his wife to my face.
He would have been a family-man. We would have had a family.
Daddy was a spy and a proud man. Though he always wished me well.
He read all my notebooks. My outlook on man has always been primitive.
Perhaps I should have burnt my journals.
My hardcovers, and diaries in the end are not useful
And in the end, my wishes did not become prophecies.
For the most part of my life
I felt unfulfilled, deeply unsatisfied.
I thought that only the measure
Of a man with shamanic wisdom
Could change all of that insecurity.
My father was an arrogant man, a mad man.
He taught me everything I knew, educated me
But not on how to be a woman.
So I felt cheated in the end
When I lost the only man I had ever loved.
I went out of my mind. At first it felt outstanding
But the bars at the window kept me up nights.
It was so dark, so dark, but love matters I told myself
And all I could do was to get up and drink water
The hunt for sleep was always peaceful in the end.
My beautiful Shura, it was always winter for her.
We were winter guests wherever we found ourselves to be.
The two of us were trapeze artists. There was always applause.
I always had to pray that we would navigate this planet
Together with our hero Ted, Edward Hughes the poet.
It was just in his nature his philandering ways.
As I later found out. He would never marry me.
Accept Shura as his own. So I melted, turned into a tree by a river.
Shura melted, turned into an angel. Her childhood was over forever.
We both became hollow, shells, driftwood, lotus flowers growing in mud.
Turned in our grave and slept. Dream Shura I whispered in her ear.
We would never see the sun again. Three marriages behind me.
And Shura dreamed of the Cheshire cat grinning from ear to ear.
Assia Wevill’s womb is silent. Another ghost house.
Assia, daughter of a German Protestant mother and a Russian Jewish father.
Assia, Sylvia Plath’s rival, that is all they will remember of me.
© Abigail George
Abigail is the Author of the following books:
• All About My Mother
• Brother Wolf and Sister Wren
• Scrapbook of a Bipolar
• The genius. Diary of an unsable misfit
• Petya Dubarova
• Africa Where Art Thou (launched at the South End Museum)
• Feeding the Beasts (launched at the Grahamstown’s Arts Festival)
• My Struggle With Depression
• The Scholarship Girl
• Elise In Blood and Water
• Chapters and Parts
• Owner of a lonely heart, Owner of loveliness
• The Island of Petya Dubarova
• Letters to Petya Dubarova
• The Fox and the Curtain
Life Writing (genres poetry and biography)
• The Scholarship Girl
• All about My Mother
• Winter in Johannesburg
• Sleeping Under Kitchen Tables in the Northern Areas
• Brother Wolf Sister Wren
• Parks and Restoration
• Bang Bang Son of a Gun
• Emily Dickinson
• Of Bloom and Smoke
• The Anatomy of Melancholy
• Island of the Honest Man (forced removals from South End)
• Island of the Honest Man
• Bang Bang Son of a Gun
Assia Wevill, the greatest rival of Sylvia Plath
Love me I said
But in the end, you hated me
And bitterly so.
Green was not our landscape.
It was much more as if
My childhood had begun to bloom again.
Nazi Germany, the train, that awful train journey, growing up
In Tel Aviv, the needles, flying into tantrums.
Was my English not articulate enough for you?
I would have peeled all the potatoes in the world for you
Given the chance but I was nothing like her was I?
Why didn’t you just say so?
That I wasn’t good enough.
Three marriages, three marriages.
I knew what they were all thinking.
Why weren’t you the one that came out with it, that said it aloud?
Let us put an end to this but it was much more than an affair.
You had said so yourself on numerous occasions.
Copycat. Copycat. They all said afterwards.
When I held Shura in my arms the one thing
That meant the most in the world to me all I could think of
Was forgive me, forgive me. Gas.
Ted, your gestures are in my blood you know.
Flowers in my brain while I fidget in my grave.
Gone too soon. Gone too soon from my beautiful Ted’s world
Of words, your seasons, your earth and your paragraphs
That I have envied for all of our life together
With our children. All I ever wanted is a glimpse of us as perfect people.
It is not working. This is not working so I will put on a disguise.
You abandoned me. You abandoned our blossoms.
Our kingdom, your throne for my empire of the sun.
Health is past. I am no longer part of the living my darling.
You have damaged my imagination forever and I cannot even
Dream of living uprooted
And forever being infiltrated by a madman.
Did you remember her at all when you were with us?
When you were up close and personal with shades
Of your dirty-exotic Assia and little pampered Shura?
And now that you will never see us ever again.
The taste of a double life was wonderful wasn’t it?
At the cost of others what do you feel inside your heart now?
Is it waves of decay inside the pool of your great mind?
I was your greatest admirer. Shura was Frieda’s greatest admirer.
Will you ever write a great poem again?
© Abigail George
• Metro FM and Khaya FM
Print interviews in the Bay area local print newspapers
• Die Son, Die Sondag Son, The Weekend Post, The PE Express and The Eastern Province Herald
• African Writer (The loneliness of the long distance writer), Geosi Reads (), itch (Believing what my heart is telling me), and The Poet Magazine
• The Daily Dispatch
• Sunday Times Live
• 2005 – Recipient of a writing grant from the National Arts Council
• 2008 – Recipient of a writing grant from the National Arts Council
• 2001 – Recipient of a writing grant from the Centre for the Book
• 2001 – Recipient of a writing grant from the Eastern Cape Provincial Arts and Culture Council (ECPACC)
The English Teacher
I think of the symmetry of his mouth.
The perfect chemical purity of it that tasted of salt and light.
His everlasting darkness plunged head first into light.
And this introvert’s intelligence, his mole-game, his boots,
His poison weed, second. I think of his wink
And his smile, his girls, his women in the office space.
His being. His humanity. His coding. And how I stalked him.
How he taught me that nothing in love was insignificant.
How I worshipped him from afar and how I loved him,
This creature hunting him down until the day came
That he wounded me. Gosh, how he reminded me
Of Hemingway. His words were thorns. My Macbeth
Night and day. My Nazi and Jew. He was my meat and potatoes
For a year. My torch. My burning candle. The network
Of my constant craving. My blood just had to have him.
He put me into a trance and towered over me. Such radiance.
His eyes. His eyes. Eyes like slits. Then eyes like snake eyes.
Guilt, guilt, guilt is mine. My possession. Now all day and all night
He lurks like a white lion. I am his shadow. I pace.
I think criminal thoughts. I am his shroud. He strides.
I am his cool sacrifice. He leaps. I am a vision in a sackcloth.
With dust and ash in my wet hair I am the drowning visitor
In the river where the fish lap and surf at my heels.
I am beautiful now that my ancestors have surrounded me.
There is an empty seat waiting to be filled but he is gone.
It burns me still. Love squandered. Love unreciprocated.
His voice assaults my ears. Brutality is the name of the game.
Not love. Not love. But I wake up and the sun still shines.
Years go by. At night the moon licks them. Peter Pan flies.
Anne Sexton sits behind the wheel of her car the key
In the ignition. Ingrid steps into the lake-sea alongside Virginia.
My cat is dead, mauled to death and I am dead too in a way,
Mauled to death by one man. Look at me. My revenge is quiet.
Vietnam, Iraq. Iraq, Sarajevo. Rwanda, Burundi. Syria, Egypt.
Child soldiers marching like matchstick men with their guns, their berets
And ammunition. And I speak of this because it is winter in Africa.
In the African continent. Every child and woman a winter guest
In a season revisited every year like cuckoo-clockwork. Madness,
Hysteria, paranoia, hunger, alienation, refugee status, xenophobia.
What ever happened to actual love and the imagination of it all?
I am every woman. Every man. Every child on this continent.
For those who cannot speak I speak for them. It’s a downpour out there.
© Abigail George
Links to Books
‘Winter in Johannesburg’
‘Africa where art thou?’
Abigail George is on Goodreads
Thanks for reading….