PhD in Education student Ms Jennifer Sheokarah’s poem ‘I Know a Woman’ was selected out of 400 entries to form part of an anthology titled Yesterdays and Imagining Realities that was published recently.
The announcement of the selected poems was made at the Poetry Africa Festival in Durban, with authors receiving cash prizes.
‘My first poem being published, especially in a publication of this magnitude, is reason enough for me to believe I am a good poet and that my work is worthy of being read,’ said Sheokarah.
The French Institute of South Africa, in partnership with Impepho Press, a Pan-African feminist publisher, and Poetry Africa Festival, published a call for poetry submissions last year. South African poets between the ages of 18 and 30 were invited to submit poems on the theme: Archiving of Imaginary Stories.
‘The competition had guidelines in terms of themes so I decided to pick the competition’s questions that dealt with how history is conveyed and the means through which it is conveyed, as well as what we can learn from the past,’ explained Sheokarah. ‘I then based my poem on different kinds of women from the past and of today. It was inspired by women’s month as the call for submission was during August. The aim was to create awareness of the power we have as women and the kinds of things we should fight against.’
Sheokarah says her mother encouraged her writing from a very young age, advising her to write more!
‘UKZN’s Creative Network Magazine also encouraged my writing and I have submitted numerous pieces of work. What started as “writing for leisure” became so much more. I always tell other students to chase their dreams indefatigably. I think it is so important to grow as an individual in many ways, and the only way to achieve this is to have more than one dream!’
What are her plans for the future? ‘I will definitely pursue poetry and writing generally from this point onwards. In fact, my children’s book, The Abandoned Bicycle, is being published by Beyond the Vale and will be released by March 2021. Additionally, I am working on a poetry anthology to be submitted to another publisher, hoping for good news.’