Arja Salafranca treads warily on the icy streets of London, but returns years later to have a life-changing epiphany while rowing on the Thames. Her incisive, photographic gaze penetrates the lives of people, from an Indonesian woman in the sea to a child begging in Johannesburg. But the poetry is also personal, as it traces the slow but inevitable unwinding of a relationship. And then there’s an erotic intimacy, where love goes beyond touch.
Poems by Arja Salafranca
Arja Salafranca’s new poetry collection offers portraits of people on trains in England, as well as recounting the experience of being a stranger in Spain, where she was born.
Beyond Touch is a profound and evocative voyage of discovery towards self-realisation, surrender and an exhilarating “rush at life”, to the ultimate destination of an unexpected and achingly tender love. Arja Salafranca is one of South Africa’s finest contemporary poets and this collection deserves to be widely read and celebrated.
There has always been a sense of separateness in Salafranca’s poems – even alienation – from the experience the poet carefully observes. While language allows the poet to record the world, capture it like a photograph, it also succeeds in creating an othering. Yet there is a shift in intimacy in the latter parts of this collection, surrender, perhaps, to an experience that evades the eclipse of words.
“Compelling poems, full of heartbreak, longing, and an abiding sense of ‘otherness’. Salafrance has two amazing gifts: The first, that of description… the second, the ability to stand both inside and aside, to be both participant and observer. You’ll read these poems, then reread and reread them, drawn back not only by their sharp beauty, but to the poets own powerful, intensely personal sense of truth.”
Kate Kurtington, City Press