New Contrast is one of the first South African literary journals and it is devoted to publishing the best of poetry and prose, art, reviews and interviews from both local and international authors.

Appeal for Donations

Dear New Contrast subscriber, reader, and contributor

In the two years prior to my appointment as Chair this year, the cash reserves of the South African Literary Journal (which publishes New Contrast and oversees the National Poetry Prize) halved due to operating losses and a sharp decline in donations. The Board is doing everything in its power to guarantee the future of the Journal which published the earliest writings of some of the most significant literary figures in our country including two Nobel prize-winners.

Although progress is being made, we need a significant inflow of funds in the next months. My urgent appeal to you is that you donate and subscribe or place an ad in New Contrast.  All contributions will be greatly appreciated.

With warm regards, Archie Swanson

NC 199 Spring


New Contrast issue no. 199 is out now. In our author interview, the poet André Naffis-Sahely engages with this precarity through reflecting on immigration and the flux infrastructural and social landscape of the UAE, while in our prose selections, Dan Wylie’s “Pitt’s Stop” draws it closer through a treatment of gender-based violence. Likewise, this sense of precarity can also be found in our poetry, which, through its focus on the natural landscape and human relationships, produces a a variant and vast portrait of our fragile existence.

NC 199 Spring


Akonta Sekan by Priscilla Adipa

Aba teetered between sleep and waking. Each time she drifted off, a bark or a croak or the rumble of a car rushing past roused her, so that again, she counted her breath – to not only slow it down, but also to distract herself from her thoughts, which whirled and collided like balls in a lottery machine.

Poetry prize shortlist 2023

The National Poetry Prize Short Listed Poets!

Congratulations to the short-listed poets with their poems! All poems have been presented anonymously and judged blind by our panel – Gail Dendy, Shile Ntuli and Geoff Haresnape. The three winning poems have already been decided anonymously as well, and will be announced at an Off-The-Wall Zoom at 7.30pm on Monday 3 April 2023.

Poetry prize shortlist 2023


Mthunzikazi A. Mbungwana

ndogquma ubuze bukaMama
UMama wogquma ubuze bukaMakhulu
bandithwesa ubugqi bokuchopha phezu kwameva angcuthayo
uMakhulu akophi naye wafundiswa nguMakhulu kaMakhulu
UTata usenkcochoyini
uxhathise ngebhayibhile
UTamkhulu zange abekho
naleyo ayithethwa.

(New Contrast issue 195)


Zeenit Jacobs

Resting on heaps of countless
paperwork like unsteady skyscrapers,
hidden deep in the thick repositories
of a compressed and dense mind…
Like a jumper straddling the boundary
of an infinitely high point that descends
into a void of blackened eyeholes
and fissures of pale cerebral folds…
A voice from inside a queer mind,
where gears shaped like ticking clocks
are split over a stretched psyche…
It pings through placidity like a
cold rusty knife, it moves faster
than a pulsing and red-hot vessel.

(New Contrast issue 196)

’n Wind

Breyten Breytenbach

’n wind ruk oor die see
bote pluk aan hul tome
en runnik verskrik
(die see se nekhare rys)
die eerste druppels loop verby
soos ’n skelm kat in die gang
en pis in die hoekie

(Issue 2, Autumn 1961)