Vangi Gantsho launches Undressing In Front Of The Window

Vangile Gantsho, also known as Vangi, launched her anthology titled Undressing in front of the window this month. We caught up with the author to find out more about her work.

Vangi booklaunch

How did the book come to be published? What conversation or idea sparked it?
I have always known I wanted to release a book – many books – so I guess the question was just when. From early on I knew I wanted to be a credible writer first (of both poetry and prose) and the only way to go about doing that is by making actual contributions to the literary space.

So, I released poems on blogs and in journals, went through a lot of rigorous (and often painful) editing and gave my manuscript to anyone who would give me the time of day.  Eventually, after lots of patience, growing, criticism and many conversations with poets I look up to, I decided to publish Undressing in front of the window myself.  I was ready. The book was ready and, as it would seem, the Universe was ready. She aligned Herself to the releasing of this book and everything happened just as it needed to.

Tell us about the title of the book and the cover. Why that title and who did the cover artwork? What was the selection process for both of these?
The title came before the book, funny enough. I knew I wanted to be honest. I feel like too much hurting (and loving) are done behind closed doors. So it feels abnormal when seen in public. We walk around feeling like everyone has this hunky dory life whereas we all have our crosses to bear. All I am saying is: if you know that I hurt, like you hurt… Maybe we can begin the healing together. And then came the poem Undressing in front of the window.

As for the cover… Divine processes:  A few years ago, I did a shoot with Saddi Khali, in which I had to do a lot of shedding (of clothes and insecurities).  This shoot felt like a photographic journey of what I was going through with this book and actually – literally – involved being undressed in front of a window.

Saddi took the original photo used in the cover.  I then gave the photo to my incredibly talented friend Tanya Pretorius of Thursday’s Cat, along with the title and the poems… She was able to read my heart and give me this lovely cover. It’s funny because I really didn’t give her much to go on because I had no idea what I really wanted, but she is pure genius and was so sensitive to where I was going with the book.  Like I said… Divine process.

Please tell us which piece in the book is your favourite or which ones you are most happy about having in the book.
Yho! That’s not fair. Each poem speaks to a very specific period in my life and means something special to who I am, or was.  I will tell you which poems people will be glad are in there, though:
I expect more from you AND I want to speak to my children

What do they talk about/mean to you/represent?
I expect more from you: This poem speaks to my frustration with where we are as people. We have been given so much. This country has been through so much. And still, we take so much for granted. Freedom is never easy to come by and we have an obligation to honour it. If we expect more, we would demand more. Do more! Be more!

I want to speak to my children: I feel like if we knew who we were, we would treat ourselves (and each other) better. The world would have us not know what majesty we come from but our children deserve to grow up knowing who they are and the truth behind their melanin. So this is a call to Love. And to Black. Worldwide.

A lot of publishers say poetry doesn’t sell. What’s your response to that?
Well… I guess we will see. I think people are consuming literature in a different way, so we need to allow poetry to move with that. Ebooks, audio books… Times are changing. People will always want what appeals to them.

That being said, my first edition sold out and we have been doing really well so far. I am hopeful that this this will continue to be the case.

Where can we buy the book and how much does it cost?
The books are available from Protea Bookshops across the country for about R130 (if I’m not mistaken). If your Protea Bookshop doesn’t have it, please ask them to order it from the Hatfield branch. The more people order, the greater the demand and the more we can make sure each store is stocked up.

Also… An eBook is coming soon.

 

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