REVIEW BY: Sarah Rowland-Jones
Anyone who has looked beyond Cape Town’s tourist traps will smile in recognition at these closely observed poems about the city and wider environs.
A five-month work stint in early 2011 proved a fruitful time for the Welsh poet, Kate Noakes, whose third collection this is. Her sometimes subversive eye found rich resources in the place, its past and present politics, and life, whether human, animal or avian.
Poems range from ‘a yard of silver’ snoek to the ‘Green and yellow blanket man’ begging aggressively in Long Street, from hadedas ‘plagued with smoker’s cough’ to quagga and zebra ‘bar-coded for its foals to find home’, from forced removals and dislocated homing pigeons, to fracking and HIV transmission. Noakes employs a deft touch, vivid imagery, and frequent humour.
This elegantly printed hardback is an empathetic, thought-provoking invitation to view our city with fresh eyes. – Sarah Rowland-Jones
This review first appeared in the Cape Times in December 2012.
Here’s what others had to say about Kate Noakes’ poems (from the Eyewear website).
Kate Noakes’ Cape Town poems command our imaginative attention with all the power that the crossroads and lawns, wastelands and landscapes of “fateful convergence” commanded hers, a visitor from a hemisphere away. Like the stargazers in her ‘Kruger Nocturne’, “scanning until our retinas gave away”, Noakes writes with an acute sense of atmosphere reminiscent of the photographs of David Goldblatt, capturing sharply the urgency of the present in tandem always with the long echoes of history.
— Jane Draycott
Kate Noakes’ Cape Town takes us on her journey through a landscape that is both engaging and alien, a population at times aggressive, at times welcoming and an intriguing bestiary that includes the almost extinct Quagga zebra – “Each animal uniquely patterned,/bar-coded
for its foals to find home”. This is a collection which engages the Rainbow Nation and its radiantly colourful country with a purposeful eye.
— Tony Curtis