ice-cream headache in my bone
Phillippa Yaa De Villiers
In this, her third collection of poetry, Phillippa Yaa De Villiers invokes images of past and present with hypnotic clarity, summoning the heart and heat of memory – painful and happy alike – with the distinct musicality and visceral punch she is known for.
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ice-cream headache in my bone
In this, her third collection of poetry, Phillippa Yaa De Villiers invokes images of past and present with hypnotic clarity, summoning the heart and heat of memory – painful and happy alike – with the distinct musicality and visceral punch she is known for. Some poems invite contemplation. Question and provoke. Others are elegiac, moments for reverence in a rich, diverse collection that both spans decades and pauses to revel in the intensity and beauty of a single moment. In liquid form that incorporates prose and poetry, De Villiers fearlessly confronts and disrupts, dipping into a well spring of images that are euphoric and horrifying. At once prophetic and playful, ice cream headache in my bone is an exploration and celebration of language, a definitive collection that yields and responds, burns and soothes, all the while, calling to a longing for truth, and a tongue not tempered by oppression or pain.
Phillippa Yaa de Villiers writes, performs and lectures in Creative Writing at the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg. In 2006 her debut collection, Taller than buildings was published in 2006 and The Everyday Wife in 2010 – it was awarded the SALA Prize for poetry in 2011. ice-cream headache in my bone is her third collection. She co-edited No Serenity Here, an anthology of African poetry translated into Mandarin. (2010). Her short stories have also won prizes, ‘The day that Jesus dropped the ball’ (shortlisted for Pen/Studinski Prize 2009) and ‘Keeping everything the same’ (winner: National Arts Festival/Het Beschrijf Writing beyond the fringe winner 2009). Her one-woman play Original Skin toured South Africa and abroad. Since 2007 she has read and performed at poetry festivals in Germany, Denmark, UK, Cuba, Sweden, Zimbabwe and Ghana, and her work is translated into French, Dutch, Flemish, Burmese, Mandarin, Italian, German and Spanish.
Uncommonly well-structured poems – mixing verse and prose, pushing the boundaries of form – which which resonate with lives of their own. These are not poems to read in a rush. One needs to sit down and enjoy them or else you will end up missing the cream of the poems.
The poetry of Yaa De Villiers invites you watch her wrestle with the inverses and anti-climaxes of life and her enchanted embrace of its harmonies and ecstasies.
Yaa is vulnerable and insecure and figuring things out. Her collection is filled with grappling and contradiction, making her accessible. Touchable. Even her adventurous use of form, particularly in “What I found” and “Horse” reveal a womxn who lives inside, on and outside the colouring lines. The vacillation between lyrical and narrative poetry, and prose adds to the experience of living in Yaa’s skin. This collection is not all blood and skin, however. “Tongue” registers as a familiar charming post ’94 sitcom, and “Elegy for jazz” is as musical live – alongside bass and keys – as it is on page. At times her voice is out of tune and off beat, but always honest.
“There is a pervasive energy and diversity of form, subject, and style in Yaa De Villiers’s volume, a multiplicity of emotional threads woven through a wide range of subjects… Culmulativley, they epitomise the fullness, range, and intricacy of the poet’s life.”