May: Toni Stuart

29 Apr

Photo by Kent Lingeveldt

Toni Stuart, 28, is a poet, writer and journalist, from Cape Town, South Africa. In 2010 she co-founded a youth organization called I Am Somebody! with storyteller Nicole le Roux. I Am Somebody! uses storytelling as a means of mentorship and integration work with 18 to 25 year olds, across communities in Cape Town.

Toni started writing poetry at fifteen, and it was her love for writing that led to a career in journalism. After matriculating, in 2000, she studied journalism at Cape Peninsula University of Technology. During that time she was awarded a scholarship to a three-month program at Fonty’s Hogescholen Joernalistiek, in The Netherlands, around African and European relations. She worked at Cape Community Newspapers, part of the Independent Newspapers stable, for five years, as a reporter and sub-editor.

In 2003, she started performing poetry with Dala Flat Music and in 2004, with the record label, held 38 Special words and music: a monthly event of poetry and music collaboration. She was a member of the And Word Was Woman Ensemble: a performance poetry group which featured at Cape Town Book Festival, Woman’s Parliament and Cape Town Festival among others. In 2010, with photographer Kent Lingeveldt, she founded and co-organized a monthly multi-genre arts event called Expression Session for young and up-and-coming artists. That same year, she performed at Urban Voices International Poetry Festival, sharing the stage with Patricia Smith, Beau Sia and Lemon Andersen. Her first solo performance, Listen, was a collaboration Lingeveldt, in which he interpreted her work through photographs.

With I Am Somebody! Toni aims to create a community that supports young adults to explore and create their life visions. She has a passion for bringing people together and using creativity to help people find their innate strength, gifts and develop these to overcome life’s challenges. Poetry is her medium, and through words she explores the quiet magic of life – those unspoken moments that often define us and make us who we are.

to the Tate

from Waterloo station

walk the length of the Southbank:

feel your nose and cheeks


in the icy November sun.

the river is calm today

the bank is too

…quiet footsteps

trace their own paths:

winding ways with worn feet

walk slow

walk with your head up

and watch the breath from

warm bodies paint Christmas wishes in

the fading light

walk slow

walk mindful

and hear the silence of the cold

dance with the noise of your thoughts

across the still river

catch your mind

as it wonders on summer legs

to your land far

and the people

whose hearts you know the insides of well

catch your mind,

call it back to this river bank,

to your cheeks pink and your nose


keeping walking now

along Oxo Tower

peer into the boutiques

and then,

turn your heard


to that river as your feet fumble

along Jubilee walkway

keep walking.

warm yourself for a moment

as you pass under the bridge

and fill your ear

with the busker’s xylophones

playing worn-out Christmas carols

that pull a smile across your face

and draw

an ache of longing

across your chest

keep walking

keep the river

on your left

and your chin thrust out

against the cold

once passed the bookshop,

look up to your right

and you will see it: a brown

expanse of nothingness



grey clouds

wind your way

right left


mind the grey-haired coat and his dog

side-step the Spanish students

as you find your way

to the entrance

resist the gift shop

descend the flight of stairs

to the Turbine Hall

now, you are here:


gasp .

as you take in

the crack

running through your heart

which Doris Salcedo recreated

on the Turbine’s floor

for all the

world to see.

*written in response to Doris Salcedo’s Shibboleth, part of the Unilever Series for 2007, at the Tate Modern Gallery.

© Toni Stuart, London, 2007

the busking harpist

at the Plaça de Sant Lu

she sits:

red hair

clothed in black

under bleak Sunday sun.

her fingers coax

lonely music from long strings

sweet lonely music my

ears do not understand

but the heart dances,

the soul sighs.

she plays just one song

that calls the sun out

slows a minute to now stretches it to tomorrow

and lips are quiet

minds are still

as soft talkings of nothingness

fill each soul

she plays just one song

then red hair bows gently

and packs giant strings framed in wood,


Toni Stuart – Madrid, 2006



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Posted by on April 29, 2011 in Uncategorized


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