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Friday, June 17, 2022


(Right: Marí Peté)

Net. Covid Verse, Durban poet from the Durban University of Technology, Marí Peté's sixth bilingual collection of poems, was launched on May 27, 2022, at the eighth International Symposium of Poetic Inquiry.

This year, the symposium was brought to the Global south for the first time, with the theme, "intersections of silence and invisibility". Over four days in the shade of Table Mountain, the hybrid event brought together poets, scholars and poet-scholars, blending academia and art.

Net is a chronological collection of poems which the poet wrote over two years since the outbreak of Covid-19, while she and her husband worked from home, nursed an elderly parent until death and reached virtually to connect with their child studying overseas who was unable to return home when lock-down kicked in.

The book skirts the edges of visual art -- in her front note the poet writes, "Autobiographical poems are woven into a semiotic net: doodles dangle from those poems that invoke selected historical plagues. I found artworks and images associated with certain pandemics, and from these works, identified parts that resemble nets – then distorted them into doodles ... Languages, images and silences pull at each other throughout Net."

Symposium anchor, poet Malika Ndlovu, says: "The experience of Marí Peté’s multi-media, multi-modal collection Net, Covid Verse at the momentous 8th International Symposium on Poetic Inquiry in Cape Town recently, was nothing short of transcendent. Given the intensity of presentations offered in parallel sessions at this stimulating hybrid event, hearing and seeing her offering was like sinking into a pool of tranquil waters. Even though this ground-breaking work navigates the gravity of pandemic times, historically and in the present, death, grief and complex webs of trauma humanity continues to experience, this bi-lingual poet’s ability to harness the grace of poetic essence and silences that allow the listener to breathe.

“Reading or listening to this work we are soothed and gently guided towards deep insights by her reflective tone, acute grasp of lyricism of language, the sparkling lines that play on ambiguity or mirroring between English and Afrikaans. To add to this richness are the fragile yet luminous and connective threads of the visual throughout the collection. This is a kind of poetry too, beyond word or sound, inviting in some places the spirit of play, of rumination and an intimacy that somehow affirms our common humanity ... stitches and joins dots, reveals unseen possibilities across shattered or disparate or realities.

“While the footnotes and bibliography of this manuscript could easily send you off on a spontaneous research trajectory, Net, Covid Verse is an enticingly layered tapestry of creative work that cannot be confined to a literary text or a single page and frame."

In the book's introduction, Professor Johannes Cronjé (DLitt) says, "A fan of Rosi Braidotti, this collection is especially interesting to me in a post-human context. Throughout the book there is a tension between the away and the togetherness. The poems help us to recall our own experiences, to ponder how technology changes conventional notions of separation and togetherness and how technology has enabled in this strange time, new ways of being united. In my own family, early on in lock-down we connected with our children through Zoom. We made the same dishes and said cheers, have some wine … all around the imaginary table. These improvisations with technology have changed what it means to be human forever around the world. Technology-mediation is but one sub-theme amid many other forms of tension spanning this substantial body of work."

Poems always appear side by side in both English and Afrikaans. Of this, Professor Cronjé says: “There are many readers like you and me these days – we are so bilingual that we don’t know in which language we read as we switch. Regarding tensions, we might even interpret the differences between the two poems. There’s a whole doctorate or at least a Master’s that takes place in the gap between the Afrikaans and the English poem.”

The launch of Net took the form of a 15-minute video, which showcases the text accompanied by voice-overs by the poet:

The book is available in e-book format at R200,00, at

Many poems are linked to recordings that can also be accessed directly at