by Lindiwe Mlandu
Picture this, a room full of beautiful black women with their afros, braids, brush cuts, dreadlocks, German cuts, weaves, and turbans. All their eyes are fixated on a tiny stage, perfect for intimate gatherings like this one; where a woman wearing a striking mustard dress is reading poetry. The woman is Upile Chisala. Her reading is met with ‘oohs and aahs’ and ‘ýes, girl’ from the audience.
We are at the Book Lounge on Roeland Street in Cape Town on Thursday 30 May. She’s launching her book Soft Magic. The book was self-published in 2015 while Upile was still based in New Mexico. She says when she wrote the book she was depressed and missed being surrounded by her family. Her writing allowed her to escape her not so fun reality.
Now, the revised and expanded edition of Soft Magic, which is Upile’s debut book of poetry, was published by Andrew McMeel Publishing in March. It explores blackness, joy, love, gender, self-love, heartbreak and spirituality.
In this revised edition of Soft Magic, all the black poems are at the beginning of the book. “When you pick up this book, I want you to know who this book is celebrating,” says Upile. She says Soft Magic is a celebration, “get in the habit of celebrating yourself. From the skin to the marrow. You are magic. ”
The poems are very short. When asked about this, Upile says she does not believe in writing long-winded poems. She writes short poems to allow the reader to be a part of the story by letting their imagination to run wild. The book is available at most book stores throughout the country.
To end the inspiring evening, Upile signed copies of her book and everyone left the place feeling rejuvenated and amazed at what this woman has achieved with the book. Happy reading.