Her sharp eye pierces issues

The cover of poet Lebogang Mashile's latest book, Flying Above the Sky, curiously shows only half her face with a prominent sharp eye and thick, black eyelashes.

The cover of poet Lebogang Mashile's latest book, Flying Above the Sky, curiously shows only half her face with a prominent sharp eye and thick, black eyelashes.

The picture represents the contens of Mashile's poetry in her latest book, which Sowetan had the privilege of seeing as an advance copy.

In this anthology Mashile speaks her mind and looks closely at a wide range of issues that afflict and at the same time make us happy in this country.

The poems are sometimes philosophical, sometimes direct or presented with a veneer of diplomatic language - hence the use of the sharp eye on the cover.

I do not know whether this was a conscious decision on the part of the young poet who in many respects represents the voice of the youth in South Africa.

Flying Above The Sky is the second anthology of poems from this award-winning writer, and marks her first foray into self-publishing.

The work explores her signature themes of women, identity and spirituality, but it also moves into new, compelling areas.

The volume follows the 2005 release of her first poetry book, which is said to have sold more than 3000 copies, a phenomenal success within the context of publishing in South Africa, particularly for a first-time author.

Whichever way you look at it, the book's release has confirmed the rise of this literary star.

She also released an album, Lebo Mashile Live, in 2005, demonstrating her multi-faceted artistic talent.

And after making television viewers stop and think as the presenter of the TV show Latitude, she has debunked the myth that TV presenters are just pretty faces.

Pretty she is, but the release of Flying Above the Sky has distinguished her from poets who just follow trends.

She has shown that she has an intellectual capacity to deal with the complex and vexing issues of femininity, identity and gender politics.

Mashile will launch Flying Above The Sky, perform with Moving Into Dance Mophatong, and answer questions from literary critic Victor Dlamini at the Dance Factory in Newtown, Johannesburg, on Thursday at 7pm.

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