Muizenberg woman wins poetry prize

Sue Woodward

Retired Muizenberg teacher Sue Woodward has come third in the AVBOB Ecopoetry Mini-Competition, which invited writers to use the environment as their muse.

“We wanted poets to reconcile with the natural world and reflect on the impact of the environment on our daily lives – and to share their personal experiences through the art of poetry,” said chief judge Johann de Lange.

The entries had been of a very high calibre, he said. “I’d love to give the top-ten poems each an award!”

The winners were announced on International Mother Earth Day, April 22.

Retshepisitswe “Promise” Makhatha, who is originally from Mthatha in the Eastern Cape but now teaches English in China, won the R1000 first prize with Mama is Terminal; Nkululeko Zondi, of Johannesburg, took the R700 second prize with Women of Prayer; and Ms Woodward took the R300 third prize with Cederberg Rocks, after Heaven-Haven: A Nun Takes the Veil by the 19th century English poet Gerald Manley Hopkins.

Ms Woodward is also a writer and editor of educational materials, and she won the McGregor Poetry Festival Competition in 2018. Her debut collection of poems, Between the Apple and the Bite, was published by Modjaji last year.

“I am fortunate to be able to walk in nature, around the Zandvlei estuary, on the beach and in the mountains,” said Ms Woodward.

“As I am most at home in the wide skies and rugged mountains of the Cederberg, the words came naturally, and I imagined myself back in that pristine environment.”

The sixth annual AVBOB Poetry Competition opens on Monday August 1 and offers cash prizes of R10 000 in each language category. Visit for information on how to participate.

Cederberg Rocks by Sue Woodward

I escape the city

I have longed for the straight road west

The steep climb, the breath-holding descent

The wind-pitted rocks the upheaved mountain windbent

The eagle soaring high from its breast

And I have asked to be

Where ancients trod a barefoot path

And carried then as I will now a whittled staff

And a song in their soul flying free