In commune: Myesha Jenkins and Makhosazana Xaba


The Forge hosted the first collaboration In Commune session at the Forge Theatre in January 2020.

In Commune is an intimate live platform and video series, created collaboratively by The Forge and New Frame. It brings peers with long histories of struggle, activism, political and cultural experience in conversation with each other. As they share their stories and commune with each other and the audience, the platform provides both a space for public discussion, sharing and archiving.

In this hour-long discussion Myesha Jenkins and Makhosazana Xaba explore Jenkins’s career, and while doing speak to their shared love and commitment to poetry, liberatory politics and feminist solidarity. Jenkins’s long battle with cancer ended on the 5th of September 2020. Her final collection of poetry entitled 35 Poems will be published posthumously later this year.

Myesha Jenkins (1948–2020) wrote and performed poetry. Her first collection, Breaking the Surface, was published in 2005 and Dreams of Flight followed in 2011. In 2013, Myesha won the Mbokodo Award for Women in the Arts in the poetry category. For five years, she produced Poetry in the Air on SAfm to showcase poets and to celebrate Women’s Month. She also co-hosted Jozi House of Poetry, a non-competitive, woman-friendly monthly poetry session. In 2015, the Out There Sessions: Poetry and Jazz in Orbit was launched, with Natalia Molebatsi, featuring the collaboration of poets and jazz musicians. Myesha edited To Breathe into Another Voice: A South African Anthology of Jazz Poetry (2017). She hosted a digital radio show on https://www.Jazzuary.fm, focused on jazz and poetry.

Makhosazana Xaba is an anthologist, biographer-in-the-making, essayist, poet and short story writer. She is the author of three collections of poetry: These Hands (2005, 2017), Tongues of their Mothers (2008) and The Alkalinity of Bottled Water (2019). In 2014 she won the Nadine Gordimer Short Story Award for her debut collection Running and Other Stories. She is currently based at the Wits Institute for Social and Economic Research, working on her long-term project, a biography of Helen Nontando Jabavu (Noni). She is patron of the Johannesburg Review of Books. Before turning to creative writing, she worked in the non-governmental organisation sector, holding senior management positions in organisations working in women’s health and rights in philanthropy. She lives in Johannesburg.

Videography by: Nonzuzo Gxekwa, Andiswa Mkosi and Tseliso Monaheng.