GARDEN ROUTE DISTRICT NEWS - A poet from George, Archie Swanson, has scooped second place in the English category of the 2019 Avbob Poetry Competition, where his poem competed with thousands of other entries.
By far the biggest poetry competition in South Africa, the annual event is backed by Avbob to the value of more than R500 000.
Swanson's poem, my guernica, was inspired by Pablo Picasso's famous painting Guernica. "It was painted in protest of the bombing in 1937 of the ancient Basque capital during the Spanish Civil War, by the Luftwaffe," Swanson explained. He is very pleased with his achievement. "The chance of rising to the top of thousands of entries always feels so slim!" he said.
But Swanson is not the only local who excelled in this competition. Oudtshoorn Courant editor Hannes Visser placed third in the Afrikaans category with a poem he wrote for his father on his own birthday, Vir Piet Visser (21.7.1925 - 19.7.1967).
Visser competed with over 3 000 Afrikaans entries. Visser said Swanson's achievement was exceptional, as writers from many other languages also enter the English category.
In total, more than 30 000 poems in 11 language categories were entered this year.
About the poets
Archie Swanson’s poetry was first published in English Alive, an anthology of South African High School creative, writing in 1973 and in the 20 and 50 year anniversary anthologies. Poems have been published in the quarterly poetry magazines – Stanzas and New Contrast. They also appear in the Best New African Poetry Anthologies (2015 through 2020), the 2017 anthology - Experimental Writing: Africa vs Latin America and the 2018 anthology - Experimental Writing: Africa vs Asia (two poems translated into Japanese).
Poems are also published in Vol. 1 & 2 of the Anthology Africa vs North America. In 2016 three of his poems were translated by the Spanish poet López-Vega and published in the Spanish National Newspaper, El Mundo as well as the Bolivian newspaper Correo Del Sur.
In 2017 two poems were long listed for the Sol PlaatjIe Award and the poem flashback was shortlisted for the UK Bridport Prize. The poem journey was included in the 2018 anthology Absolute Africa! and in 2020 the poems pierneef day and furrow were published in Naturally Africa! The poems in the end and olympia café were published by the 2019 AVBOB Poetry Competition.
A first collection of poems, the stretching of my sky, was published in 2018 and a second collection the shores of years, in 2019. Swanson has often appeared as guest poet at Off the Wall Poetry Performing and the Cape Town Central Library Poetry Circle. He has also been a regular guest poet at the McGregor Poetry Festival with poems appearing in various Poetry in McGregor Anthologies. In 2018 and 2019, he appeared as guest poet at the Prince Albert Lees Fees. The poem déjà vu was the inspiration for a Grant McLachlan composition for clarinet, violin and piano performed in the Baxter Concert Hall in May 2019.
He has also written the words for a choral piece composed by McLachlan, entitled girl child, to be performed at an international choral festival next year. In July 2020 two poems, tell me I lived and pelion were translated into Spanish and published in the South American literary journal Libero America. His poem hominid humanoid will appear on the cover of the anthology Writing Robotics: Africa vs Asia Vol 2 due for publication in September.
In August, the poem afourer was selected for the Clemengold Poetry Writing Project and my geurnica was chosen as runner-up in the English category of the 2019 AVBOB Poetry Competition.
Archie Swanson serves on the Board of the SA Literary Journal and he is one of the organizing volunteers at Off the Wall Poetry, Observatory. His third collection, the outer banks, is being published later this year. He is an avid surfer who lives in George. www.instagram.com/poetarchie
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