The Spiral-Bound Notebooks

by Ruth Hartley

Ruth Hartley’s collection has real range, a strong political awareness, beautiful imagery, the dark night of the soul, but finally, light and hope. These are the poems that inspired her provocative novel, The Love and Wisdom Crimes. I began to write poetry in several spiral-bound stenography notebooks while I was at university. The poems were a way of resisting the apartheid state of South Africa but also a way of discovering who I was and who I wanted to become. The notebooks travelled with me when I ran away to London and by some miracle they have survived all my journeyings and are still with me today. Poetry can be an intense and economic way of keeping a diary. The notebooks remained hidden for long years until the ideas contained in them finally germinated into more poetry, my novel, The Love and Wisdom Crimes and my memoir, When I Was Bad. Ruth Hartley APARTHEID I have been walking through the thick green grasses above the sweating vlei looking for dead bodies. Under some compulsion I went out among the rich fields where the song birds spill their sweetness among the choking scent of lilies. Ruth Hartley is also the author of The Shaping of Water, The Tin Heart Gold Mine, The Love and Wisdom Crimes, and When I Was Bad: a memoir.

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