Cape Town author’s poems among literary journal’s best

Born in Lansdowne, raised in Westridge and now living in Century City, Athol Williams says the selection of his work for publication in literary journal’s 60th anniversary edition is confirmation he is writing ’good quality poetry that has relevance to our society’…

Author Athol Williams‘ Mother’s Routine was among the pieces chosen to be published in the South African Literary Journal‘s 60th anniversary.

The work of local author Athol Williams was selected for publication in the South African Literary Journal that has been published four times a year since 1960.

Mr Williams was born in Lansdowne, grew up in Westridge and now lives in Century City.

Of all the poems and prose published in the journal over 60 years, his poem, Mother’s Routine was as being among the best pieces and has been published in the 60th anniversary edition of the journal which publishes poetry, prose and art.

Mr Williams’ first published poem appeared in New Contrast in 2012.

To celebrate its 60th anniversary this year, New Contrast decided to look back over every edition ever published and select the best writing.

Included in the special edition are works by many of South Africa’s literary greats, among them Nadine Gordimer and JM Coetzee who won Nobel prizes for literature, as well as many other greats such as Alan Paton, Adam Small, Breyten Breytenbach and Zakes Mda, to name but a few.

“And of course, I was greatly honoured to be included as well. My poem Mother’s Routine was selected which was published in New Contrast in 2017. I was overjoyed to hear that I was part of the list and that my poem would be included in the 60th anniversary edition alongside the writing of South Africa’s greatest writers,” Mr Williams said.

Mr Athol described being among the writers whose work appears in the journal as “overwhelming”.

“I consider it an affirmation of my writing, a confirmation that I am writing good quality poetry that has relevance to our society.”

“I grew up in Westridge and attended Westridge High School before going to the University of Witwatersrand, Oxford and Harvard. My mother still lives in Westridge and I continue to work in Mitchell’s Plain through Read to Rise, a non-profit organisation which aims to inspire reading and to make high quality books available to young learners,” said Mr Williams.

He would like to see more South African literature studied at school. It is tragic that children are still being forced to study ancient literature from foreign places when we have rich modern literature from our country. This will raise awareness of many of our local writers, he said.

“Like achievement in any other endeavour, writing requires practice and requires resilience. It is tough getting published and I get rejected more than accepted. But I keep on writing. One of the best ways to improve your writing is to read. A writer who does not read is unlikely to achieve their full potential,” he said.