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JOAN KERCHHOFF (article first published : 2006-10-18)

Different poets write for different reasons. Some do so to make sense of their world, some to purge their demons, others to make a social or political point. Activist Joan Kerchhoff of Pietermaritzburg started writing poetry with the latter in mind and in the process discovered a talent that has extended her work to other realms.

Last year her collection Three Journeys, One Life: Poems and Dreams was published to great acclaim excerpts from this will be presented at the next meeting of the Live Poets’ Society (LiPS).

Originally a librarian by profession, Joan Kerchhoff has dedicated herself for decades to NGOs with socio-political agendas – “working for justice”, as she puts it. She and her husband Peter were founders of PACSA (Pmb Agency for Christian Social Awareness), an ecumenical organisation which facilitates the empowerment of marginalised communities. They also worked for AFRA (Assoc for Rural Advancement) and the banned Christian Institute.

Peter Kerchhoff was detained by the previous government and, after his death, was honoured by a street being named after him. Joan’s poem Detention without Trial provides an oblique reflection on his incarceration. Writing poetry is thus her response to particular events and experiences. “It helps me work through things,” she says.

Taking a cue from the subtitle of Joan Kerchhoff’s collection, Dreams is the theme of the evening. After the guest spot, those with poems which touch on that subject are welcome to present them. Then in the Poet Pourri session, poems on any topic may be aired.

The Live Poets’ Society meeting takes place at 18h00 on October 31 on the Quarterdeck of the Point Yacht Club.

All are welcome to attend regardless of whether or not they write poetry. There is no subscription fee, entry is free and there is a cash bar. Guarded parking is available at R5. LiPS meets at the same time and place on the last Tuesday of every month (excl December), and get-togethers usually run until about 20h30. More details from Brett Beiles on 031 266 4762.




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