‘This book promises light and hope to everyone’ – UP alumnus on poetry book publication

Posted on May 15, 2023

A deep love of writing inspired by his father and being part of a poetry society at the University of Pretoria (UP) have culminated in the recent publication of UP alumnus Tshepo Matlheketlha’s first poetry book, titled That Cloud has a Sylver Lining.

Matlheketlha graduated from UP with a Bachelor of Science in Geology in 2014 and obtained a Postgraduate Certificate in Education (Senior Phase and FET Teaching) in 2017.

“This poetry book talks to a teenager as a friend and to any individual facing a mid-life crisis,” said the author, who is an English teacher at a kindergarten in Dongguan, China. “It is as if it walks with them through it. The book promises light and hope to everyone.”

The play on the word “silver” in the book’s title is a reference to Matlheketlha’s second name, “Sylvenus”, which translates as “protector of woodlands, fields and flocks” in Greek mythology. 

He added that the book also talks to parents from the viewpoint of children, and vice versa.

“There is a lot of self-reflection, without discriminating against age or gender,” he explained. “There is also spiritual guidance to be found.”

The book, which was written over 12 years, touches on a wide variety of topics and people that influenced the author during that time.

“Some situations were inspirational, others sombre and heart-wrenching, and others too funny to forget – however, in each poem, there is a lesson to be learnt,” he said.

Matlheketlha’s poems were largely inspired by a poetry society that he was part of as a student at UP, and he fondly recalls meeting other poets and listening to them recite their poems.

“We gathered every Thursday and had an open mic for people to share their poetry. That fire still lives in me. I believe [my poetry] is meant to be shared with the world and not just end on campus.”

He attributes his love for writing to his father, who used to read to him and tell him stories when he was a young child.

“He used to recite poetry to me. I fell in love with poetry and started putting it on paper because I was too shy to share my thoughts with anybody. Writing became an emotional habit for me.”

Matlheketlha describes himself as an artist in many forms.

“I am an actor at heart, though I only act when I teach my learners. I am a realist, who is passionate about change, seeking to use the creativity in my mind to make a difference. Above all, I am a poet.”

He says this book is only the beginning.

“I am a published author now, and I have written so many short stories that I am yet to share with the world.”

For Matlheketlha, obtaining his qualifications at UP opened his mind to the vastness of information and its practicality.

“As a UP graduate, I articulate everything I do,” he said. “Detail matters at UP, and very often, I am recognised as a detailed individual who is eager to practise what he knows.”

As for aspirant graduates, Matlheketlha believes that alumni have a vital role.

“We are meant to be the light that reveals the endless possibilities in their near future.”

That Cloud has a Sylver Lining can be purchased from online stores such as Takealot, Amazon and Kobo for R 299,90.

- Author Xolani Mathibela

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