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Oxalis purpurea purpurata
Oxalis purpurea purpurata

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Isobel Dixon
Blake Friedmann Literary Agency Ltd
122 Arlington Rd
London, NW1 7HP, UK
Tel: UK + 207 284 0408
Fax: UK +207 284 0442

Poems: Christmas Beetles and valentine

Isobel Dixon

Isobel Dixon
Photo by Julian Friedmann

Poet and literary agent

Isobel Dixon was born in Umtata, grew up in the Karoo and studied in Stellenbosch and Edinburgh.
Her poetry has been widely published in South Africa, in New Coin, New Contrast, Scrutiny2, Carapace, Fidelities, donga, and in several anthologies, most recently City in words (David Philip, 2001), A Literary guide to the Eastern Cape (edited by Jeanette Eve, Double Storey Books, 2003) and Glass jars among trees (edited by Arja Salafranca and Alan Finlay, Jacana, 2003).

She won the Sanlam Literary Award 2000 for an unpublished collection of poetry, Weather Eye, which was subsequently published in South Africa by Carapace Poets (2001).
In the UK her work has appeared in several journals, among them Leviathan Quarterly, Wasafiri, London Magazine and the Guardian as well as the British Council anthologies New Writing 8 (Vintage, 1999), New Writing 10 (Vintage, 2001) and New Writing 11 (Picador, 2002).
She translated Marita van der Vyverís novel Wegkomkans into English as Breathing Space (Penguin, 2000), and works in London as a literary agent, representing many South African writers.

Awards:

Sanlam Literary Award 2000
Olive Schreiner Prize 2005

Books:

Weather Eye, Carapace, 2000
A Fold in the Map, Jacana, 2007
The Tempest Prognosticator, Umuzi 2011

* * *

Christmas Beetles

Outside, the afternoon is ringing,
ringing, massed cicadas singing out
their silly news. The hot
brown gardenís loud
with all their gossipmongering.
The insect grapevine -
shrill bush telephone -
incessant beetle headlines
shrieked into the heat.
Like our old radiogram,
its fizzing, whistling, wheezing,
as we ease the big ribbed knob
and line the red bar up,
with news from Moscow, Greece,
Loureno Marques.
These noisy chaps are closer,
sounding off from somewhere near.
The jacaranda, or the orange trees,
we canít be sure.
They are everywhere,
and nowhere, sly cicadas,
no-one can decipher them.
Or was it just the sound
of sticky tarmac, shimmering?
Who knows? Perhaps the noonday shouting
never was that clamorous.
Our tricky memory contrives
and always turns the volume up
and in the end I guess
that they were merely stuck
at fundamentals, needle jumping,
at the prod of sex, or simply whooping
- summer! summer! summer! -
every minute of their short, hot beetle lives.

This poem first appeared in New Contrast, 2002

valentine

sweet fallacy the heart
this heaving muscle glistens darkly
something like a toad

From Weather Eye, Carapace Poets, 2001


Text by Isobel Dixon, September 2003

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