Taalmonument’s Green Gallery sparkles with cheeky poems

The Afrikaans Language Museum and Monument is delighted to join forces with Versindaba, a blog for Afrikaans poetry, to exhibit their 2021 Mont du Toit Quatrain competition’s winning quatrains and shortlisted entries in the Green Gallery. This temporary exhibition puts the spotlight on the three winners, Daniel Hugo, Herman Wasserman and Alwyn Roux, as well as the works of 17 other contestants who were shortlisted.

According to Michael Jonas, ATM director, the institution is a living monument where there is constant interaction between the structure, nature, visitors and language creators. “Most visitors are not only very interested in the history of Afrikaans, but also curious about the language’s development and its latest creative forms as it offers new perspectives on the worlds of Afrikaans-speaking Africans,” he says. “Now that the institution has reopened and visitors are returning, we see it as a golden opportunity to entertain our e-visitors and physical guests with new, off-beat quatrains.”

Versindaba received more than 200 entries for the competition earlier this year and finally selected winners based on technical skill. After all, one of the most important characteristics of the Persian quatrain is the strict discipline it requires of the poet. The Persian quatrain, also called Rubāʿī”, is a stanza with four lines representing a complete poem. The first three lines usually serve as an introduction to the last line that contains the core of the quatrain. The content is concise and witty, and often expresses universal wisdoms, but can also be hedonistic in its worldview with a typical underlying carpe diem philosophy. “This is also what we saw with entries that exceeded all expectations and came from all quarters,” remarked the judging panel, which consisted of Profs Joan Hambidge, Marlies Taljard, Dr Stefan van Zyl and Ms Nini Bennett. “Although not everyone has won, every poet can be assured that his/her contribution was enjoyed by many readers and has contributed to making the Covid-19 pandemic slightly more bearable for many of us.”

Entries that made the shortlist include the works of Annora Eksteen, Anton Dockel, Anzé Bezuidenhout, Cecilia Steinberg, Driekie Grobler, Elmarie van Kampen, Fanie Olivier, Hannes Visser, Helize Janse van Vuuren, Ilse van Staden, Marieta McGrath, Pirow Bekker, Reinet Thiart, René Bohnen, Ronel de Goede, Thomas Deacon, Waldemar Gouws.

The architect of the monument, Jan van Wijk, felt strongly about nature and therefore he is honoured by this open-air gallery where his ashes are embedded in a boulder, surrounded by indigenous olive trees and granite. An exhibition of especially emerging Afrikaans writers is presented every few months in this gallery’s display cases, made of recycled wood and glass, to focus on the monument’s cultural and natural aspects.

See www.taalmuseum.co.za/groen-galery/ for the current and previous exhibitions, and www.versindaba.co.za for more about this blog whose mission is not to only reflect the current state of Afrikaans poetry, but also to contribute to its broader development.

For more information on all the exciting events, concerts and courses at the Taalmonument, call 021 872 3441/863 0543, visit www.taalmonument.co.za or follow them on Facebook. The website also offers virtual tours of the monument and museum, information in six languages on the symbolism of the Taalmonument as well as many interesting articles on Afrikaans, multilingualism and the institution’s past, present and future. There are also many resources for school and research projects. THE LANGUAGE MONUMENT AND LANGUAGE MUSEUM ARE OPEN TO VISITORS – CURRENTLY FREE ENTRY FOR CHILDREN UNDER 18. Annual permits are available at R120 for individuals or R220 per family (offered at a 20%-discount until 30 November 2021), which includes access to all Full Moon Picnics.