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Imago Journal

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Three From Imago No. 1, Spring, 2008

Imago No. 1, Spring 2008

This week marks the final stage in the resurrection of the literary journal, Imago.

Imago publishes the works of UCT past and present students and staff. The journal was started by Peter Merrington, in 1981, during his time as a junior lecturer at UCT. After he passed it on, the journal struggled to survive and eventually seeped through the cracks. Now it has resurged and will hopefully be with us a while, though this depends on your support.

If you would like to take a look at a 1981 version of Imago it is housed UCT’s African Studies Library under BA 821.9108 IMAG. Contributors to the early editions of Imago include Geoffrey Haresnape, Peter Knox-Shaw and UCT English Department’s very own Rodney Edgecombe.

Imago is on sale now for R30, but currently only available from me until further plans are made for efficient sales and distribution. We are even planning a book launch for the near future. In the meantime, submissions can still be sent to Please contact me if you would like to help fund the journal in some way or if you would like to advertise in Imago.

Contributors to Issue No. 1, Spring, 2008

Simon Abbott, Diane Awerbuck, Leila Bloch, Kyle Fullerton, John Higgins, Karen Jennings, Matthew Kalil, Jordan Kantey, Matthew Koehorst, Emma Lombard, Peter Merrington, Masande Ntshanga, Redvers, Farrah Schwab, Oliver Strang, Nick Wicht

Three from Imago No. 1

Old Transvaal Stories

(after H.C. Bosman)

She wore a cotton frock; he saw a green lily kiss
the ghosting moon.Young men’s hearts were
won by waltzes on a pianola, and the widow shot the
windows out behind the house; slow, the claypit
sucked an old man’s kindness into whip-like
turns of love.Termites keep season with the maize.
Paraffin tins are district fashion for gardenia
(or katjiepiering) and camellia and tuberose;
and the horse found its own way home, and held
its counsel when the dominee would know what
made his daughter sing so sweetly in that night.

- Peter Merrington


from Kommst Du Mit?, Or, The Key to Davey Jones’s Locker

On the ferry I met a boy, who told me, when pressed, that he was going home for the Easter holidays.‘Where are you from?’ I asked him.

‘Dumfries,’ he said, and expected me to know where that was. I guessed Scotland. He was nineteen,and his parents were waiting for him with the car at the other side, in Harwich. They were going to take the motorway and head north.

‘So what are you doing in Germany?’ I asked him.

‘I’m in the army,’ he said. I gaped.

‘Everyone has that reaction,’ he smiled, and his white teeth showed between his red lips.

‘What army?’ I asked, stupidly.

‘Er, the British Army.’

‘But why are you in Germany?’

‘That’s where they sent my regiment.’

‘Yes, but why are they in another country? Is there a war on that I don’t know about?’

‘Not yet. But there might be.’ His skin was so white, this soldier boy, and his mouth was red as a poppy flower. I did not see anything pass those lips for most of the two days we were on the ferry, aside from the gum that I gave him.

‘So what do you do there?’ I asked him. I could believe that he owned a PlayStation: I could not believe that he routinely hurt people.

‘I drive tanks.’ He made steering motions with his white hands.

‘And you’re ready to kill someone?’

‘I don’t want to, but I suppose that I will,’ he said slowly, and shifted his long limbs in his seat. ‘I’ll have to see.’

‘What made you decide to join the army?’ I asked him.

‘Didn’t go to school much, did I?’he said, and smiled crookedly with his red mouth.

‘And you didn’t think that maybe you were going to need an education at some point?’

‘I do now. I didn’t then.’

‘How old were you when you joined?’



‘Ja. They don’t really allow that now. It’s changed in the last three years. Now you have to be eighteen.’

‘What’s it like?’

He shrugged. ‘It’s like any job packing shelves or flipping burgers. As long as you do your job, no one has a go at you. It’s a laugh. And the pay is good.’

‘What is the pay, if you don’t mind saying?’

‘One-eight. In pounds. I don’t know what that is in euros.’

‘A month?’ He nodded.

I wanted to take him by his thin, spoiled shoulders and shake the sense down into him, distil the love and hope that preclude hurt. I hated every blessed thing that had failed to carry him across his early life like stunted St Christophers. I hated his parents, absent or no; I hated his dead church and his lax school, and the girls already running to fat who wanted him to have cars and houses before they would look him in his ghostly blue eyes.

- Diane Awerbuck



My Mardi Gras heart;
All dancing girls and death masks.
You move gently past.

- Matthew Kalil


Recent comments:

  • <a href="" rel="nofollow">Rustum Kozain</a>
    Rustum Kozain
    October 10th, 2008 @01:42 #

    Sophy, and Peter too, may be interested in this addition to the literary history of Imago: I have editions from 1986, 1990, 1991 and 1992. Somewhere in some box perhaps are the intermediate editions, in one of which is a poem by Geoffrey Haresnape called "Imago", if my memory doesn't fail me.

    The 1986 edition includes poetry by Martin Jacklin, who was also a DJ at UCT Radio (when it was still a quite interesting society) and who in undergraduate years wrote an essay on Pynchon's The Crying of Lot 49 which I read as a model of interesting, eclectic scholarship and copies of which were made available at Short Loan by the lecturer concerned. As a younger, less sophisticated undergraduate, I was intrigued by his use of scientific concepts (entropy, mainly) to explain the novel. He is still around, and still writes poetry and lyrics. Check it:

    Imago 1986 also includes work by Paul Mason, who is also still around. You may bump into him at Off-the-Wall at a Touch of Madness.

    Imago 1990's cover celebrates 10 years of the magazine (somewhere someone's counting went awry if it only started in 1981) and is a bumper edition (64 pages). It includes the 5 winning poems each by the joint winners of the 1989 Nelson Mandela Poetry Prize (a princely sum of R300 each): Thembile ka Pepeteka and myself. The judges for the competition were Ingrid de Kok, Menan du Plessis (of
    Longlive! fame), Peter Horn, Kelwyn Sole, Sizwe Satyo and Stephen Watson.

    1990 also included poetry by established UCT poets: Geoffrey Haresnape, Kelwyn Sole, Peter Horn and Stephen Watson. John
    Higgins's 'occasional poetry' also appears. Also, poetry by Peter Know-Shaw, former lecturer in English at UCT and winner of
    the 2006 UCT Book Award for his book, Jane Austen and the Enlightenment.

    Student names that appear in 1990, and who are still around are, among others:
    B Muthien, now director of Engender:

    L van Leeuwen (UCT Radio), aka Malu van Leeuwen, sometime music editor at SL magazine in the mid to late 1990s, but whereabouts now unknown to me.

    A Gersh, prose writer, now resident in the USA and behind this hilarious blog:

    D Priilaid, once also a member of UCT Radio, now a lecturer in Management Studies at UCT

    M Sanders, lecturer now at NYU and author of the recent book, Ambiguities of Witnessing: Law and Literature in the Time of a
    Truth Commission

    Last, but not least, the 1990 Imago also includes poetry by Damian Shaw, who deserves several paragraphs all to himself. He was a
    co-editor of Imago, on the 1990 edition and, I think, the two previous editions; perhaps also the 1991 edition. His book of prose poems (I am unsure of how to categorize them), South African Flora and Fauna (The Lithic Period), I believe to be Snailpress's first publication (Gus, correct me if I'm wrong). Published in 1990, it cleverly parodies the well-known Faber&Faber poetry book designs and contains etchings by Leon de Bliquy (

    The poems in SA Flora and Fauna are brilliant, quirky satires on South Africa of the 1980s, and written in the style of scientific observations. E.g., an extract from "The Black Bishop Bird": "A few of these birds live in South Africa, the most famous example of which resides in Bishopscourt, Cape Town. This particular bird achieved world-wide fame when it was voted by foreign ornithologists as having the most peaceful call in the bird world: a low, yet somewhat staccato 'tu-tu-tu'."

    Or, "The Bourgeois Pig": "Bourgeois Pigs, contrary to popular expectation, keep themselves scrupulously clean. They attempt
    to make their surroundings as hygienic as possible, and only eat high quality foods - no pig swill or dried beans for this lot.... The natural enemy of the Bourgeois Pig is the Communist Cell."

    "The Communist Cell": "If any organism has caused controversy in Scientific circles, then it is the Communist Cell..." etc. I
    could go on and on, but a few titles will provide further indication of the satire: "The Sacred Cow" (protected by a law
    first introduced in 1948), "The Progressive Carp" (specimens found as far afield as the USA and even Australia), "The White Wolf" (can go on wild rampages), "The Death Squids", etc etc. A brilliant book, I think, and a collector's item.

    The following Imago, 1991, was again thin (24 pages); some regulars reappear, and new names include JL Klopper (UCT Radio), aka James Lennox of Radio Good Hope and P4 Radio fame; Francois Verster, well-known documentary filmmaker; Amanda Tiffin, the Zimbabwean born jazz vocalist (; Evan Milton, well-known music journo; and, wait for it... Megan Hall, winner of this year's Ingrid Jonker Poetry Prize.

    Imago 1992 was also thin. It included work by Adam Haupt, now a trail-blazing academic at UCT whose research includes work on new media and intellectual property rights (his book, among many, is freely available from HSRC Press:

    Also appearing for the first time is Khulile Nxumalo, poet and filmmaker. You can find his book, Ten Flapping Elbows, via BookSA's bookfinder.

    Something on editing Imago. I was a co-editor from 1990 to 1992, the latter edition I believe to have closed that chapter of Imago. The other editors for 1990 were Damian Shaw, Dave Margetts (another UCT Radio member who, tragically, died of malaria in 1994 or 1995), R Neethling (yet another UCT Radio member), and L van Leeuwen (as stated before, also, yes, again, a UCT Radio member. Did I mention I was a member of UCT Radio too?). I remember consternation and anxiety when it was decided that, given the advent of desktop publishing (I forget the name of the programme), Imago will now be produced thus. But, produced with Arts Students Council funds, and thus somehow an affiliate of or possessing easy access to SRC Press facilities, all we needed to do was type up the material and someone on Green Level - the level in the old student union which housed all the main, NUSAS affiliated student organisations - someone there would do the layout. And someone on the Imago editorial had direct ties with the Arts Students Council and thus liaised through the whole process. But aspects of the magazine were still cut and pasted.

    The 1991 edition cheekily declared, on its back cover: "For some obscure reason, the editors wish to remain anonymous." But I know I was involved, and perhaps also Damian Shaw. Cover art was provided by D Metzlar (also a contributor), who is involved in Genderchangers in the Netherlands, an organisation that works to demystify computer technology among women (

    But the cheeky disclaimer signalled a growing enamouredness with witty postmodernism, as the 1992 edition testifies. The editorial team - Joy E. Howard, James L. Klopper, Cartsen U. Knoch, Rustum W. Kozain and Justin R. Slack - flaunted its postmodern wit by writing a long introduction filled with Derridean tics and non sequiturs. It was so bad that it could have been funny. It also included blurbs by, among others, Alice Faulkner, Monique Witty, Chole O-Verboso, Jacques Tada, Guy Buller and the inimitable, "drunk-again critic", Terry Eglington. The cover was by D. Sorfa, and entitled "The Waste Land (Single page with notes)". It was a blotched photocopy of a page from the Eliot poem. It was the end of Imago, and the entry of high theory at UCT (20 years late), I almost want to say.

  • <a href="" rel="nofollow">Liesl</a>
    October 10th, 2008 @07:32 #

    I used to study the bassoon at the College of Music when I was a schoolgirl ... can I send you something for a future issue? Or is that stretching the submissions guidelines a little far?

  • <a href="" rel="nofollow">Helen</a>
    October 10th, 2008 @13:29 #

    Rustum, what a wonderful blast from the past...I remember some of these folk. Taught some of them, was taught by some, admired some from a distance but was far too prissy to make overtures, and then there was the whole smoking thing -- my life would have turned out quite differently if Id been able to tolerate cigarette and ganja smoke instead of needing an ambulance at the slightest whiff. I had to go to Princeton in its brief moment of glory (it had a tiny but brilliant left-wing ghetto for about 18 months -- Andrew Ross, Cornell West, Toni Morrison, Grant Farrad & co) to learn theory from non-smokers. I remember thinking you were way cool (this was a few years later, post your Fulbright), but was too nervous to approach because you had a ciggie perpetually clenched in your jaws and said "fuck" a lot. Goddess, I was uptight. Yay for reincarnations and may Imago thrive.

  • <a href="" rel="nofollow">Peter</a>
    October 13th, 2008 @13:14 #

    Rustum, the memories are much appreciated. I should add, that Imago began after Vicky Mackenzie ran a short-lived but interesting slim mag in the UCT English Dept called Octet. They'd have eight poems and a critique of each one along with it. I began Imago with the collaboration of a professional journalist, Julius Tobias, who was studying Eng lit then, and my twin brother David designed several of the early covers. I've got copies of all the first three years of issues, will let Sophy Kohler have copies for the record. People who were very involved at the outset included the late Peter Kantey and Courtney Dickens, as well as Deela Khan, and an artist who specialised in wood engravings. Mathew Blatchford was a regular contributer, then doing undergraduate English. We had an Imago party at the cottage in Kalk Bay that my brother and I were renting. We were largely ignorant of the groundswell of protest that led soon to the state of emergency and the establishing of the UDF. I went the year after to teach at UWC and quickly learned what a remote island I'd been living on. Best wishes to Sophy Kohler for the new venture.

  • <a href="" rel="nofollow">Rustum Kozain</a>
    Rustum Kozain
    October 13th, 2008 @15:28 #

    Helen, that is hilarious: "you had a ciggie perpetually clenched in your jaws and said "fuck" a lot." As my brother (auto-mechanic, with a father as auto-mechanic) used to say when his wife complained about his cussing: Have you ever seen a saved (bekeerde) mechanic?

    But Helen, do you remember Patrick Fish at all? He was a tutor when I was undergraduate, and he was hip and cutting edge, judging from the flock of students who were always in and out of his office. I had become friends with some of his acolytes, but it was only when I was in honours that I felt confident to kind of chum up; I guess being on the Imago editorial and finally scoring a first in an essay helped.

    Oh, ja, Sophy, I have duplicates for the Imago library too.

    I remember also Silmaril, which was published by the Tolkien Society, members of which were also members of CLAW (!!!), the role-playing gamers who wore long dark clothes. Way too esoteric a clique for me when I was undergraduate (Helen, I think Mr Le Page may have have had ties with this organisation or the Tolkien Society).

    My introduction to Imago happened by way of a typical writer's bafflement at 'how things work' in these exclusive literary clubs. Friends at UCT Radio encouraged me to submit poetry to Imago and when Imago appeared that year I was crushed that none of my stuff appeared when the magazine finally hit the plaza. A few weeks later, someone alerted me to Perspective (I think published by Anglican Society), in which one of my submissions to Imago appeared. I think someone at AngSoc was probably also on the Arts Students' Council and got their folders mixed up.

  • <a href="" rel="nofollow">Sophy</a>
    October 13th, 2008 @19:39 #

    Shoo-wee. Who'da thought I could cause such a stir? Liesl, I'm all about stretching the submission guidelines (though I would never admit that in public) and would be honoured to have an original Jobson for Imago No.2. The question is...WWRD? For the plebs - What Would Rustum Do? I think I need to have that bangle made. R - how's about writing the next editorial? I'm keen to relinquish that and I don't pay, except maybe with some old Scotch left over from Man Booker bet winnings pilfered from Louis. The good stuff. I would also like to get my hands on your Imagos, Peter, Rustum, and not in the Steppenwolf kinda way.

  • <a href="" rel="nofollow">Helen</a>
    October 13th, 2008 @22:43 #

    Hey Rustum, of course I remember Patrick Fish. However, as we were both miserably paid, shamelessly exploited and overworked teaching assistants who were also supposed to be writing dissertations (when? we were teaching ten classes a week!), he had no mystique for me. No meaningful conversations about Derrida, only about our staggering amounts of marking, our rattletrap cars (his was called Errata), our love-lives (his was far more interesting than mine), the cynicism of the university system, esp when it came to black students, our evil HOD. What we had in common was that in spite of the odds against us, we loved teaching and enjoyed our students, which probably explained why they were always in and out our offices. Altho in Patrick's case, it might have had something to do with the whiskey he kept in his desk drawer. Remind me to tell you about the time he presented his PhD proposal to the English Dept post-grad committee, and decided to perform it as a satiric deconstruction of the existential angst of a proposal presentation (Beckett on speed). JMC was not amused.

    I am tickled to hear of Mr Le Page's rumoured associations. And fell around at the description how you came to be published in Perspective -- a very earnest left-wing Christian campus mag (did they take out all the cussing?). You could have done worse -- they published a lot of liberation theology, and even a piece on Islam's view of Jesus that set a few die-hard boats rocking...

    Sophy, beware of old lefties bearing memories... we are an incorrigible lot.

  • <a href="" rel="nofollow">Rustum Kozain</a>
    Rustum Kozain
    October 15th, 2008 @13:30 #

    Sophy, I'll happily write an editorial. For when? October is out, I'm afraid. Next year?

    Helen, yes, Perspective... in my mind, all student publications of that era were, erm, leftwing. Well, they were all SASPU, which was generally NUSAS aligned. I was not at all put off by appearing in Perspective. They also had the most professional-looking masthead.

  • <a href="" rel="nofollow">Sophy</a>
    October 15th, 2008 @16:48 #

    Rustum, at this point Next Year seems too soon. Time is on your side.

  • <a href="" rel="nofollow">Megan</a>
    November 4th, 2008 @13:35 #

    Lovely stuff, Rustum. I also have a few old copies hanging around since I did the lurking thing and wrote some under a pseudonym...
    How could anyone forget Patrick? Surely one part of his glamour (to younger students like me anyway) was his office with a window that opened on street level and was most convenient for quick pop-ins or exits...
    And Silmaril and CLAW -- hee hee.
    This is so much cooler than an alumni letter :)

  • <a href="" rel="nofollow">Rustum Kozain</a>
    Rustum Kozain
    November 5th, 2008 @14:49 #

    Ooh Megan, you wrote under a pseudonymn? Oh wouldn't I like to know what it was. Was it to fool editors whom you thought were biased, or, like me, did you submit under a pseudonym when you were on the editorial team?


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