Christa Kleynhans is the most extraordinary lady I have met in a long time. Her passion for life belies the traumatic events which lie in her past.
Ms Kleynhans grew up in the Free State province of South Africa but has studied, lived and worked in England, China and Saudi Arabia. She currently lives in Pretoria and teaches at a special needs school. Her youth was plagued with people who were unable to accept that she was ‘different’, which made school and socialising very difficult. One of her treasured memories from that time is an English teacher who praised her writing and encouraged her to keep at it. Christa began writing poetry at the age of 15 and found this to be a medium through which she could express her thoughts and emotions. She continued to write as she grew up – keeping each of the poems but not knowing what to do with them. When she was standing in a supermarket queue and saw a magazine with ‘Write the story of your life’ on the cover, she knew it was time to do something with all the poems she had written over the years. Thus, Red in Awe: Life in Poetry was born. The book is a combination of prose and poetry with the prose giving background to the poems to be able to read them in the context from which they evolved. The final poem to be written was The Phoenix Rises – the opening of the book, demonstrating that it is possible to rise above the challenges life brings our way.
Three must-see short films have been made from her poems:
After chatting about her time in China, a member of the audience asked what lessons she learned from her time spent there – and her response was immediate: money is not everything. China has a caste system and if you are born in poverty it is unlikely that you will escape. However, the Chinese people respect and understand the importance of education. Teaching is a revered profession and children are educated from a very young age. In comparison, the children of South Africa are being pushed through the education system – whether they excel or not – and this is creating a sense of entitlement in a vast majority of the youth.
It was wonderful to see a number of fellow writers in the audience for this event, once again demonstrating the amazing support the writing community has for its members.
#EventReview #Poetry #RealLife
This was a quiet and contemplative book launch, and I for one cannot wait to delve into Red in Awe: Life in Poetry.
7 April 2017