On Tuesday I received this anthology which included a poem I wrote in 1988 for a previous, smaller anthology of international poets to honour a birthday for Nelson Mandela. Last year the editor with Aflame Books tracked me down via the poet, Amelia Blossom House, who edited the first anthology, Nelson Mandelamandla which was published by Three Continents Press in 1989, to ask my permission to re-publish in this current anthology. I had forgotten about it until last week when Richard Barlett, the editor, contacted me to say he was placing the book in the mail to me.
Halala Madiba (link is to a BBC article) is a much larger anthology of Mr. Mandela in poetry. The poems are placed in chronological order beginning in 1963 through 2005. Nadine Gordimer wrote the foreward. Other poets whose names are familiar to me and who are included are Dennis Brutus, Abena Busia, Seamus Heaney, Haki Madhubuti, Kalamu ya Salaam, Tupac Shakur (Yes, the Tupac!), Ntozake Shange, and Wole Soyinka! Good Lord! I'm awed, filled with joy, and humbled all in the short spanse of seconds. It has been recently released in the U.K. but will not have a U.S. release until next Spring.
My short poem barely made it into the first anthology...I was at the post office with 15 minutes to go until the post-mark deadline would have ended. For months I wrestled with writing a poem about Mandela, thinking it must be lengthy, heavy in content, and my best work. After months of discards and whittling down, this short poem expressed what I had to say about apartheid and the struggle for freedom...completed a day before the deadline. Self-doubt almost stopped me from sending it knowing that it had to be reviewed before being accepted for the book.
Having received this book in the same week that I began this retreat in Studio 3, is a divine validation of the highest order for me...I describe myself as one with the soul of a poet who is now quilting. It feels miraculous.