Paying tribute to Ingrid Jonker

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Ingrid Jonker was a South African poet – often compared to Sylvia Plath, and whose life took a similarly tragic trajectory – who committed suicide in the mid 60s, leaving a rich legacy of written work in her native Afrikaans. Her work is now considered┬ápart of the country’s cultural heritage and her poem “Die Kind (‘The Child’) was recited┬áby President Nelson Mandela when he opened parliament in May 1994 under the new post-apartheid democratic constitution.

We were thrilled to be asked to contribute a track to a compilation of songs based on her poems commissioned by her estate and curated by her daughter, Simone. The project was overseen by Simone’s husband Ernesto Garcia-Marques.

While most of the tracks were in the original Afrikaans, several were English translations and we were allocated the poem “Tekening – vir Jack” (‘Drawing – for Jack’). Our task was to take the poem as lyrics and – without altering them in any way (though repetition was permitted) – ┬ácompose music and record it as a song.

The result was Drawing, which is available as a standalone track on Bandcamp, or as part of the tribute album “Die Kind Is Nog Jonger” featuring 36 artists.

Besides a knocking-it-out-of-the-park vocal by Dean which channeled all the pathos in Jonker’s words, the track features a double-guitar solo by Brett and Dean, representing the tensions expressed in the poem.

UPDATE: The band were rewarded with a very positive review for their contribution the Cape Town (Jonker’s home town) daily newspaper, Die Burger. Their music critic wrote [translated]: “For me, the high point [of the first album] is Drawing (based on ‘Tekening, Vir Jack’) by The Sighs of Monsters – a British group with a South African connection via Brett Lock. For this song, there is a beautiful video on YouTube shot in a historic 14th century church in Kent, England during an arts festival. ‘Hit’ is written large across this song.”

 

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