ABOUT: Batia Efrat

Batia is a writer of many things, poetry being her favourite. Born to an artist mother, she found herself gifted with words at an early age. Her work explores both the thrills and fragility of the human condition – those murky spaces where few dare tread. Batia’s free style imbues her writing with poignant images that are riveting and personal.

A feminist and humanitarian at heart, Batia writes on society and politics at On the line and manages a Facebook platform called Don’t Flatter Yourself – a body-positive initiative which tackles beauty stigmas and standards in the media. Batia has a diploma in copywriting and, when she isn’t raising controversial issues, spends her time working on her music blog.

Batia’s allows the words to choose themselves, then breathe a little, before making changes – a routine she believes preserves the roughness and authenticity of her work. Batia’s poetry is intended as a performance of uncensored expression rather than as poised literature – and that’s exactly how she likes it. She feels artists can destroy a wonderful messiness in their work by over embellishing or ironing out too many kinks. Batia admits that her most memorable writings are the ones which she spent very little time correcting. “When it comes to writing poetry, my method is entirely different to when I write copy.”

Batia’s signature is her wonderful use of rhythm – a quality that comes naturally to her – and, though she has no overarching theory of it, Batia’s easy (or, if she wishes, jarring) cadence comes from an instinctive attention to words. As an author, Batia is less concerned with construction and diction than she is with the ebb and flow of a piece. “If it doesn’t sound right on the ear, it’s not working,” she says. “Poetry is meant to sing. It’s music for your mind.”

Batia’s poem Sunday renders late-capitalist modernity – and our lives in it – as tedious and grasping, evoking the sobering come-downs that follow the brief, hopeful (futile? desperate?) escapes we all ache for. Like most of Batia’s work, Sunday speaks of a frustrated pursuit of happiness and the futility (or unavoidability) of searching for fulfilment through recklessness and hedonism. Sunday is disillusioned, asking “is there nothing more to life than this?” – this plight of routine and the concealed desperation for exile and escape in a society which favours structure over freedom. Sunday tries to leave the reader feeling uneasy and isolated, and arrives at the disappointment which hides behind every elevation and ecstasy – it’s the promise that nothing good lasts forever.

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The day you dumped me, you forgot to give me my heart back, I was not aware that you did that with intentions of breaking me down.

You kept it in your hands and whenever you saw me smiling, heading to my happiness you smashed it bit by bit to an extent that I never felt its beat.

If only I knew that you are so noxious, I wouldn’t have loved you in the first place, you brought nothing but tears on my face.

I had to prove to you that I am a girlfriend material but still it was not enough, you wanted to turn me into those girls who wear make up and expensive weaves, something which I am not.

Here I am, I come to you, please give me my heart back, I really need it, I want to move on, you broke it yes! But someone is willing to mend it.

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ABOUT: Dominic Pretorius

Dominic’s What Our Father Did is an extract from a novel-in-progress. The piece, being the opening of the novel, is an introduction to the character of Michael, a student living in contemporary Cape Town. His father left when he was a child and nobody ever explained to him why. The novel traces his learning this untold narrative, which has its beginnings in the political turmoil of the 1980s, and introduces him to unbeknown people who are integral to his life story. “A story can be of significant consequence, but to be known must first be told,” writes Dominic in the first chapter. Michael’s stable life is undermined by a history revealed to him only now that implicates his father in atrocities, but what is perplexing is that it is a history that never did not exist. Do we have to engage with our histories, which may bring forth difficult truths, for their implicit effects on our lives to be fully grasped? The novel poses this question to young people, those ever contradictory, elusive identities that are caught in a liminal space between responsibility and youthful abandon, past and present, both eras filled with untold injustice and trauma.

Born in 1996, Pretorius is also a student at the University of Cape Town. Contrary to the premise of his story, he thinks that his father is a nice enough guy and has not bequeathed an inheritance as unsettling as Michael’s. As an undergraduate student in Philosophy, English Literature, and Politics, Dominic’s existence revolves around reading and writing, with occasional plunges into the dark depths of social anxiety. This anxiety is most likely the product of growing up in an isolated valley in rural Kwa-Zulu Natal, but, it could be that as observed by Pretorius: gone is that childhood time when it all seemed to work; like a song, a nation – a time when all was dandy. In this post-apartheid era, What Our Father Did is partly yet not exclusively, a meditation on this remark.

For Dominic, Cape Town can only be described through the poetry of Stephen Watson. Having showed a heightened interest in him, he is most likely to blather on about Watson’s affinity with Albert Camus – two men obsessed with oceans at symmetrical latitudes under provincial skies, trying to figure out what it means to be born into the harsh peripheries of their respective canons, both in terms of literary culture and the effects of racist imperialism and all its concomitants – those are the general themes. If you intervene and ask him what he does for fun, he won’t tell the truth in case his grandmother reads this – but drum and bass and whiskey are usually involved.

His work has been published on Aerodrome, a predominantly South African online literary platform, and Itch (Issue 14), Wits University’s digital literary journal. He also sporadically posts South African cultural content on his personal blog, ‘bloom| south’, where you can also read some of his other writing.


An extract from Dominic’s novel What Our Father Did ” will be featured in The #Coinage Book One

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