Thursday, 23 October 2008


I'm always delighted to hear about independent publishers and writers who publish their own work, because this adds such richness to the world of books. Much of what is published by independents wouldn't be considered by any of the big publishing houses, and it would be a huge loss to creative and analytical diversity if this were to be so. In literary ecology (to coin a phrase!), the small is equally as important as the large.
So it was with some excitement that I heard about Seaberg, a small publisher based in Port Elizabeth which focuses on Eastern Cape poetry and children's stories. For it is the kind of work it publishes that gives us insight into local cultures, sentiments and beliefs that we would otherwise never have access to. Not only that, but one of Seabird's authors is award-winning poet, Brian Walter, who has just published a new collection.

Brian Walter

In his first book, Tracks, which was awarded the 2000 Ingrid Jonker Prize, Brian Walter included a sequence of delicate and evocative poems about the Swartkops region of Port Elizabeth – Athol Fugard country – that had already earned him the 1999 Pringle Prize for Poetry.

Since Tracks and his second book, Baakens, an extended meditation on the Baakens Valley in Port Elizabeth as symbol of the landmarks of his youth in apartheid South Africa, Walter has kept faith with the poetic exploration of his grounded landscapes and their real inhabitants. Mousebirds, in its explorations of poetic situations and of poetic language itself, is testimony to the integrity – and the humanity – of this quest.

What is new is the rich vintage of time, the poet's growing assurance in voice, and the authority of experience as he looks back on the years of our young democracy, its promise and its problems, hopes and failures.

There is the older man's questioning of identity in these poems, the search for a metaphor to wed place and poet, as he continues to balance past and present.

Mousebirds is available from Seabird for R90, excluding postage. Please contact the publishers directly on 041 366 2074, or by e-mail at to order.
On a fun note, Seaberg has also just published a new children's title:

A Royal Dog
Les Cawood

This is the story of a black and white wanna-be corgi living in Richmond Hill, Port Elizabeth, who has aspirations of living in a palace like the royal corgis in England do. She searches for a Queen in South Africa in order to realise her dreams. Despite all her efforts she is destined to continue living in the little house on the hill but she discovers, to her surprise, that this life has its own rewards.

Author Les Cawood, born and raised in the Eastern Cape, has lived and taught in Port Elizabeth for many years. She has had an ongoing fascination with stories, and particularly how they are and can be used in classrooms. Her Royal Dog story is the first in a projected series that will include a brace of characters from the Bay, and which will incorporate issues that touch on – in a fun and accessible way – historical, social and environmental responsibility.

Rachel Main, who provides the illustrations, is an artist and art teacher living in Port Elizabeth and delights in drawing for children. This is her third children’s story. Les and Rachel have previously teamed up to produce a story for Colleagiate Junior, called We Are All Winners.

A Royal Dog is available from Seaberg for R60, excluding the costs of postage. Call 041 366 2074 or e-mail at to order.

Reviews supplied by the publisher

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