Creating magic through poetry

2008-09-26 00:00

Gary Cummiskey is one of the featured poets at the 12th Poetry Africa International Poetry Festival in Durban which runs from September 29 to October 4. Janet van Eeden asked him a few questions about writing and publishing.

Is your desire to write a need to change history, or make a mark on the world in some way?

The first thing I ever wrote was a short story about Mary, Queen of Scots, and after I had written it I felt I had achieved some major accomplishment. There is a definite sense of magic involved in the creative process. And yes, also probably a wish to leave a mark on the world. I have always been struck by some lines by the South African poet Wopko Jensma, from his poem spanner in the what?works, which read: i hope to leave some evidence/that i inhabited this world/that i sensed my situation/that i created something/out of my situation..

You have also become a publisher and have been remarkably resilient in the fickle world of South African literature. How did Dye Hard Press start?

I started up Dye Hard Press in 1994. Like a lot of poets, I was frustrated back then by the lack of publishing outlets. There were only New Coin, New Contrast, Slug News and Staffrider, which was on its last legs.

I wanted to start up a literary journal but was initially put off by the financial outlay needed. Gus Ferguson

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