Published poems by Sihle Ntuli from his book Stranger

Stranger by Sihle Ntuli | PEN South Africa
Stranger by TheHouseOfKehinde - issuu

*please note all poems previously published in my chapbook Stranger

Bio: Sihle Ntuli is a South African poet and classicist living in Durban. He holds a Master of Arts degree in Classical Civilisations and has previously lectured at the University of the Free State, where he was awarded the 2019 CTL Innovation Award for Curriculum Design and Delivery.

His poetry was shortlisted for the DALRO Poetry Prize in 2017. He most recently became the author of the poetry chapbook, Rumblin in 2020. He has had work published in South Africa and across the African continent on notable journals such as Lolwe, Down River Road & The Johannesburg Review of Books.

The Walls

the everyday
should not seep
through the walls

it is behind these walls
that the truth undress
then lies

Hold Tight

Inspired by the Slum Village song of the same name

on the inside of bones
a cold chill up the spine
through the arm
onto the nerves
on the edge of your palm
hold it strong

feel it shatter

hold tight
bone tires
in the space between
your liberation

a place to go
you resolve to leave the room
before your bad self finds you

Poem Dropped Then Duct Taped

heart held duct taped
of brain the matter
matter does not let go
in between shards of glass

heavy heart
indifference considering
strain is of the ——-
on by the shatter
threads, string and shatterproof

i’m yours some days
i turn behind my shoulder
x’s and paranoid calendar
scars on the days
without saying
my veins love you

through vein you’re so vain
you suffocate me
voice of me and for the life of me

i did not hear your voice for several days

voice out side in turned
the line hears you
hold me by my neck
close in pain
silence in your eyelids

Life In the Sun

my life in the sun 
everybody loves the sunshine

rain will not change the complexion
rain will not darken skin 

rain come down
rain wash away 
the strain of days

Rush Of Blood

face through cloud 
face meets rain 
before the rain
kissed water as the rain

meets the eyes 
like oedipus rex
blind to the seer

a god complex 
synagogues   mosques 
churches and monasteries 

in these states of mind 
as the world turns 

dream sequence
the sound of tap water 
tortured minds and to wake

buried alive 
under eyes wide open 
my claustrophobia 

a rush of blood to the skull;
circling skull 
Starting over


       the pressure points 
       the way pain could have been pleasure
       the volume turned up  
       the song you once loved

       crease on your gentle face
       straining of eyeballs 
       heavy breathing 
       resting on the bone 
       the shoulders strained by fingers
       the bass fracturing chest 



Also from Sihle Ntuli

A Fevers of the Mind Quick-9 Interview with Sue Finch @Soopoftheday

with Sue Finch:

Q1: When did you start writing and first influences?

Sue: I loved writing poetry at Primary School and have this wonderful memory of being selected to read a poem I had written at a Harvest Festival. My Mum and my Nan were in the audience and I loved the fact there was a lectern and I was reading. I can’t be one hundred percent sure, but I think we were just sort of given a subject and asked to write about it rather than study a poet or poem first! I did more reading of poetry than writing at secondary school, but loved the way I was taught to read poetry closely and the way my teachers seemed to know so much about it. When I went to Teacher Training College there was an opportunity to study Creative Writing alongside the Teaching degree and that’s when I realised how much I loved writing my own stuff.

Q2: Who are your biggest influences today?

Sue: I have five poets that I revisit regularly because I particularly admire their work: Caroline Bird, Vicki Feaver, Selima Hill, Andrew McMillan and Pascale Petit. I love the way they each craft their work and find it inspiring to go back into their books and remind myself what their writing does.

Q3: Where did you grow up and how did that influence your work? Have any travels away from home influence your work/describe?

Sue: I grew up in a small coastal town in Kent, England. Walking by the sea was something I could do every day if I wished and I loved that feeling of being by water that was constantly moving and changing. Quiet times by the water seem to spirit me away, but connect me to myself and I feel peaceful and real. I am not really a traveller, but when I am travelling alone I view the time on the journey as thinking time and time alone in a hotel room as perfect reading and writing time so I tend to take one poetry book to read and write down a line or 2 during the trip to develop when I get back home. That’s how I wrote ‘Dropping Your Baby’ after seeing a toy doll face down in a muddy puddle on the roundabout.

Q4: What do you consider your most meaningful work you’ve done creatively so far?

Sue: My debut collection tracks my journey from childhood to adulthood and I felt I needed to do this as a way of setting down my life up to the present time, i.e., the time of its publication in 2020. This felt freeing to me in that it captured a view of a whole journey. It also proved cathartic in that I now view things through a different lens and it enabled me to go to some of the darker or more surreal places in my poetry.

Q5: Any pivotal moment when you knew you wanted to be a poet/writer?

Sue: This question makes me think of the times at college when I would be sitting in our shared lounge and my flatmates would laugh at how long I could spend writing whilst listening to Leonard Cohen and checking my syllable count by tapping my nose with my fingers! I think I wanted to be a poet then, but it took me some years before I recognised just how important it was to me to write and set time aside for just that.

Q6: Favorite activities to relax?

Sue: I like to paint abstract acrylic works and sometimes I like to cook or bake. Reading always relaxes me and I love the feeling of being totally immersed in a book. When Jodi Picoult releases a new book I buy it as soon as I can and spread it out over 2 days because I want to read it all at speed, but I also love the anticipation of going back into it on day 2.

Q7: Any recent or forthcoming projects you’d like to promote?

Sue: I am proud of my debut collection, ‘Magnifying Glass’, published by Black Eyes Publishing UK which is avaiIable to order via bookshops or that large company that sends things out rapidly. I also record poems for my YouTube Channel – I started this because I wanted to read my poems out loud and then it became important to me during Lockdown as a way of sharing work regularly with those I couldn’t see in person.

Q8: What is one of your favorite lines from your poetry or others?


Here are the first three lines from ‘Flamingo’: “The night she bent my elbows/to fit the candy floss cardigan/for the twenty-third time, my limbs turned to wings.”

Q9: Who has helped you most with writing?

I have been incredibly fortunate to have met some wonderful people whilst on my poetry journey: Georgi Gill and Audrey McIlvain via my MA with Manchester Metropolitan University; Anna Saunders, Josephine Lay, Ankh Spice, Catrice Greer and Damien Donnelly via Cheltenham Poetry Festival; Helen Ivory via ‘Ink, Sweat and Tears’. I love poetry workshops and have been much inspired by Kim Addonizio, Caroline Bird, Liz Berry, Pascale Petit and Jean Sprackland. I love the connections I have made on Twitter with poets and I tweet as @soopoftheday. And in my house my wonderful wife who will always come to ‘Poetry Corner’ when I want to read a poem to her. And my sister and my Mum who never seem to mind me ringing them to try out a poem or ask their opinions. I loved asking my brother if I could include a poem about him burning ants with a magnifying glass in my collection and the fact that his scientific knowledge led to my first ever published poem!

Bio: Sue Finch’s debut collection, ‘Magnifying Glass’, was published in 2020. She loves the coast and the scent of ice-cream freezers. You can follow Sue on Twitter: @soopoftheday.

A Fevers of the Mind Quick-9 Interview with Jesse Domingos

with Jesse Domingos:

Q1: When did you start writing and first influences?

Jesse: My first influences were Poe and Lord Byron. Poe first because he was so different from Shakespeare or the overly mocked love poems that you hear in school. Lord Byron after because I loved his love for life, and love poems. I first started writing in 9th grade with an end rhyming flash/short story of a teacher and from there I was writing free verse poems.

Q2: Who are your biggest influences today?

Today Etheridge Knight, Tara Skurtu, Edgar Kunz and Charles Bukowski
I can’t just pick one I am either thinking about the images they expose or reading them

Q3: Where did you grow up and how did that influence your writing? Have any travels away from home influence your work/describe?

Jesse: I grew up in a small town in California called Templeton, it influenced me in a way that I now look at things and pick things out of whatever I’m looking at whether it be a situation, the place I am in, people watching and everything around me. When I joined the Coast Guard I traveled around the country a little and that added more variety of what I could pick from and really opened my voice up to say something with it.

Q4: What do you consider your most meaningful work you’ve done creatively so far?


Q5: Any pivotal moment when you knew you wanted to be a writer/poet?

Jesse: I wanted to be a writer first and as I went to college getting my degree I saw that I was more inclined to write poetry. It was always there but I felt like it was the type of writing that I would not only excel at in college but was what I felt was my calling, as cheesy as it sounds.

Q6: Favorite activities to relax?

Jesse: I like to watch movies, listen to my Spotify playlists, play DnD, walking around, drink coffee, video games and reading books (poetry and fiction/Non fiction)

Q7: Any recent or forthcoming projects you’d like to promote?

Jesse: The latest publication that I’ve had was in the Literary magazine Little Stone Journal issue 02 , my Poem “I Swear”. It’s a great magazine run by the wonderful Suzanne Antelme and Dana Collins.

Q8: One of your favorite lines from a poem of yours?


She says with tears,
“I can’t think about space too much. It bums me out.”
Then I say,
“Don’t worry it’s just a sky of dead light up there, nothing matters, only us down here.”
And I cry with her.

“Give us Days Give us Nights”, published in Adelaide Literary Award Anthology: Poetry 2019

Q9: Who has helped you most with writing?

Professor Micheal Sowder of Utah State University, Tara Skurtu my writing coach and both are fellow poets.

A Fevers of the Mind Quick-9 Interview with Jesse Miksic

with Jesse Miksic:

Q1: When did you start writing and first influences?

Jesse: In high school, I stumbled across a poetry anthology in an otherwise useless creative writing class, and discovered e e cummings’ poem “Since feeling is first.” It resonated so strongly — especially with those closing lines — it’s still one of the poems I most identify with.

Q2: Who are your biggest influences today?

Jesse: Though I feel like my work is all over the place, my favorites right now are Bianca Stone, whose ongoing work has shown me how to stretch all the way through and beyond the traditional confines of lyric poetry, and Li-Young Lee, whose whole mode of thinking feels like home to me. I’m also influenced (and overwhelmed) every day by the poets whose work I follow on Twitter, who are living and struggling to create beautiful things in these unsettled times.

Q3: Where did you grow up and how did that influence your writing?

Jesse: I grew up in the northeastern United States, in the cities and suburbs (Philadelphia, New York, Washington DC). As a result, my poetry is concerned with some particular transitions: from urban energy to domestic suburban, and I think they are inflected with an outsider’s fascination with the wild. Of course, I was also brought up with video games and nerd culture and SFF film and TV, and I lived through the 90’s incarnations of punk and Internet culture, so all of those can be seen as boundaries and borders in my work, as well.

Q4: Have any travels away from home influence your work/describe?

Jesse: I carry all the places I’ve been within me, and they all show up in poems from time to time. I’ve written about Thailand, various beaches, and my parents’ and grandparents’ places of origin in upstate New York. But these are probably less central to my writing than the tricky cosmopolitan virtual world I’ve adopted as a child of the Internet age.

Q5: Any pivotal moment when you knew you wanted to be a poet/writer?

Jesse: More of a line of personal evolution, starting with the genre literature I loved (JRR Tolkien, Stephen King) and then moving through my own experiments with writing. The poem as a format was a special place to be experimental, to supercollide my various literary and intellectual modes. Because of the freedom and the connection with parts of my mind I don’t normally access so readily, it’s become my favorite mode in recent years.

Q6: Favorite activities to relax?

Jesse: At the moment, I mostly relax by scribbling in notebooks, listening to poetry and philosophy podcasts. However, I always know I can go back to some old favorites: watching movies of the cultish and popcorn varieties, rewatching my favorite anime, and playing video games with good stories.

Q7: Any recent or forthcoming projects you’d like to promote?

Jesse: I don’t have much besides what’s posted on my normal social media feeds: @miksimum (Twitter) for general musing and poetry links/boosts, and @miksimum (Instagram) for photography and drawings. For a rundown of my published poetry (pretty much all available online), my website has it:

Q8: What is one of your favorite lines from your writings/poetry?


“The stillness gathered
The voices like a chisel
And sculpted the light”

(from Town Park as Tuning Fork,

Or my favorite things from others? My favorite line of love poetry is still cummings’:
“for life’s not a paragraph / And death i think is no parenthesis”

Q9: Who has helped you most with writing?

Jesse: A big shout out to Laura Kaminski, who was instrumental in the first piece I ever had accepted (in Right Hand Pointing #116), whose advice has seen me through a great deal of my slow-simmering poetry career, and who has also been a champion of my work at Praxis Magazine Online, a publication I’m proud to have some work in. Also to Jay Besemer, who has encouraged and challenged me through some truly rewarding discussion and correspondence. And to everyone participating in #TopTweetTuesday every week.


A Fevers of the Mind Quick-9 Interview with Shawn Berman

with Shawn Berman:

Q1: When did you start writing and first influences?

Shawn: I started writing around my freshman year of college. My first influences were my favorite comedians: Adam Sandler, Jim Carrey, Demetri Martin, Larry David, Conan O’Brien, and Mitch Hedberg. I wanted to be a stand-up comedian so bad, and to an extent, I still do. A lot of my work is my stand-up act, condensed into poetry.

Q2: Who are your biggest influences today?

Shawn: All these people are still some of my biggest influences, especially Adam Sandler. I think it takes a lot of talent to make people laugh and to be yourself. I’m not writing about serious things. It took me a long time to realize that it’s okay to goof around and to not be serious.

Q3: Where did you grow up and how did that influence your writing? Have any travels away from home influence your work/describe?

Shawn: I grew up in Albany, NY. There’s a real working class mentality there. That definitely influenced my writing. Has made it more grounded in reality, I would say. I’m living in New York City right now. There’s so much talent around me. It really forces me to keep pushing myself and to expand my comfort zone.

Q4: What do you consider the most meaningful work you’ve done creatively so far?

Shawn: I just put out my first collection of poetry called Mr. Funnyman. I’ve been working on this project for about 5 years. It’s all my material that I would love to perform in front of people at the Laugh Factory one day. I’m very proud of the work in this book. Amazon link

Q5: Any pivotal moment when you knew you wanted to be a writer/poet?

Shawn: I would say performing stand-up for the first time in college. Being able to make people laugh was addicting. I’ve been chasing that feeling ever since.

Q6: Favorite activities to relax?

Shawn: I’m a pretty big movie buff. I’ll watch anything. The crappier the better.

Q7: Any recent or forthcoming projects you’d like to promote?

Shawn: I just released Mr. Funnyman and that’s available for only $5 on Amazon! Next month, I have a collection of humorous cinema-inspired essays, At the Movies, dropping with Alien Buddha Press. The magazine I run, Daily Drunk, is doing a lot of kick-ass things. We recently released Nostalgic AF: A Video Game Anthology edited by Nick Olson We are in the process of putting together One Anthology to Rule them All (which, of course, is a LOTR anthology edited by Josh Sippie). We have a lot of cool projects happening at DD. It wouldn’t be possible without the awesome community that we’ve built there!

Q8: What is one of your favorite lines from a poem/writing of yours?

Shawn: From my recent collection, Mr. Funnyman:

“there’s something to be said about destroying the system, but i’m not equipped enough to talk about that mostly because i’m pretty clueless when it comes to economics.

but you know what i am good at?

picking out the right hashtags to use on a selfie to ensure maximum exposure on social media.

did you see how many people liked the photo of us sharing a giant ice cream cone

under the moonlight

on the brooklyn bridge

with the caption: we were mint to be?

like 15.

i’m surprised the algorithm didn’t explode

right on the spot

after exposing its one and only weakness:

couples in love,

feeling hopeful after a first date

has gone well.

it’s truly a remarkable thing

if that mushy concept was actually real. Suckers.”

Q9: Who has helped you most with writing?

Shawn: Probably my dad. He’s a comedy nerd and knows what works in regard to joke formats. He’s pretty honest when it comes to writing. It’s good to have someone in your corner rooting for you who’s not afraid to tell you something sucks.

other links: