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Favourite Reads: Maya The Poet's Top 5 Pieces Of Writing And Her Latest Poetry, 'Sometimes It Pours'

South African poet, Maya Wegerif, better known as Maya The Poet, shares pieces of writing that have impacted her life.  She says, "These books are not the best book I have ever read. They may be, but I have selected them because they are the pieces of writing that I have read when I most needed to read them. They are the texts that have most awoken and saved me." 

1. Siddartha by Hermann Hesse(1922)

This book was everything that I needed to be reminded of. It is responsible for my still being somewhat sane today. It seemed to describe my journey from seeking enlightenment to finding that it lies in the simple things. I needed it. So I drank it down clean like a cool glass of water. And I have been thirsting to read something similar ever since.

“In all other respects, the worldly people were of equal rank to the wise men, were often far 
superior to them, just as animals too can, after all, in some moments, seem to be 
superior to humans in their tough, unrelenting performance 

of what is necessary.”

2. Letters to a Young Contrarian by Christopher Hitchens (2001)

I rented this book out of my college library. I despised college and my stubborn refusal to compromise my views for the comfort of others ensured I was always in a slew of trouble. It was
t ring and I was depressed. I need to read Christopher Hitchens, his book is the damn near complete guide for the young radical.

“Never be a spectator of unfairness or stupidity. Seek out argument and disputation for their own 

sake; the grave will supply plenty of time for silence” 

3. Devil on the Cross – N’gugi Wa Thiongo
Of course the story and of course the criticism of neo-colonialism. All that, but mostly the language. This was the first book I read where English was just the face but the personality of the writing was African. The Gikuyu language, I learnt later. But I remember I kept thinking I hear my grandmother in here. I never finished this book, and I can’t say why. Maybe I was too young. Maybe I had gotten everything I needed out of it.

“‘Elderly one,

this car does not move on urine cough the money and let us hear the sweet sound

of coins or I will through you out…’”

4. The poems and interviews of Li Young Lee

I wanted to stop writing. I had for the most part stopped writing until I met, on paper, the marvelously, deliciously and magically honest work of the poet Li Young Lee. After that I became, for a period of time, obsessed with reading and watching his interviews. Wow! He made me want to write. He makes me want to meditate. Hemakes me want to be so quiet I can hear myself living.

On the death of his father:

“Then he laydown to sleep

like a snow-covered road

winding through pines older than him,

without any travelers, and lonely for no one.”

5.  The Second Sex by Simon De Beauvoir (1949)
When I read The Second Sex during my first year in college I was bitter because I felt that this obvious secret had been hidden in plain site from me. I was reading it and nodding, occasionally muttering, “Yes, yes!”

“Representation of the world, like the world itself, is the work of men; they describe it from

their own point of view, which they confuse with absolute truth.”

Watch the video of Maya's latest poem, 'Sometimes It Pours':


For more on her work, checkout her YouTube Channel or follow her on twitter @Shomadjozi. 

Photo Credit: Maya Wegerif | Instagram 
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