The Centre for Curating the Archive (CCA) and Gordon Institute for Performing and Creative Arts (GIPCA) will host the launch of Age is a Beautiful Phase (2nd ed) by esteemed South African poet, James Matthews.

James Matthews, called everything from “legend” to a “die hard dissident”, is a profound thinker and writer. He is renowned for his moving poetry as he is for his wicked sense of humour, all matched by a deep regard for the world in which he lives, writes and thinks. His poetry responds to a particular cry that argues for the recognition of bodies and lives, and how we consider people in all manner of complexities, spaces and times.

Matthews submitted his first pieces of writing to magazine sections of the Cape Times and Cape Argus, nearly 70 years ago. In 1962 he published a collection of short stories, The Park and Other Stories, and in 1972 his first collection of poetry, Cry Rage. Seven additional poetry anthologies and a novel were to follow. Matthews established the first black-owned gallery in Cape Town, as well as the first black-owned publishing house, BLAC (1974). He is the recipient of National Honours from the South African government, Civic Honours from the City of Cape Town, and the holder of an Honorary Doctorate from the University of the Western Cape.

For the first time, selected poems have been translated into Xhosa and Afrikaans, as well as quotes from the poet that speak to his friendship with artist Peter Clarke. Edited by Siona O’Connell, with photographs by George Hallet, Rashid Lombard and Benny Gool, this second edition of Age is a Beautiful Phase is a CCA publication.

“Through the images, readers will consider that the questions of pitch, inflection, volume and rhythm in his poetry are echoed in the composition, exposure and implied movement of photographs.  Patterns, emphases and longer moments of absence urge us to pause for thought and shift our considerations of life and death.  These pauses, which dance across his page, illuminate and inspire and give us cause to celebrate the significant contribution that this remarkable South African has given to the world,” comments O’ Connell.

This book launch will take place on Wednesday 11 June at 17:30 at Hiddingh Hall, University of Cape Town (UCT) Hiddingh Campus, Orange Street, Cape Town; and is free. Refreshments will be served from 17:00; no booking is necessary. For more information, contact Dr Siona O’ Connell on 021 480 7153/1 or

James Matthews audio recording available for download.

Start: 11 Jun ’14 5:30 pm

End: 11 Jun ’14 6:30 pm

Cost: Free


Organizer: GIPCA


Venue: Hiddingh Hall

Phone: +27 21 480 7156

Address: Google Map UCT Hiddingh Campus, 31 Orange Street, Cape Town, 8001, South Africa