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.


NEW CONTRAST Issue 197 – Autumn 2022

This edition features an interview with Karen Jennings, author of An Island, longlisted for the Booker prize, and the poems of the three winners of New Contrast’s 2021 National Poetry Prize, who not only demonstrate the vitality and daring found in South Africa’s contemporary verse, but also point towards a new generation coming into its own. The four beautiful pieces of artwork is by Neil Badenhorst.

Winners 2021
Winners 2021

The National Poetry Prize Winners!

We are very proud to announce the winners of 2021:

  • ZIZIPHO BAM – Silence in church;
  • JEROME COETZEE – Koesisters;
  • SISANDA KUBEKA – Suitcases.

Read the winning poems here:


NEW CONTRAST Issue 196 – Summer 2021

Our editor, Masande Ntshanga, writes: In going through our latest round of contributions, this month, which included entries for the National Poetry Prize, judged this year by the young poets Nathan Trantraal, Siphokazi Jonas and Maneo Mohale, I discovered in the work a return in focus to the interrogation of the self – or of the individual – which I found fitting after a year of looking outward to a world that felt, and perhaps still feels, threatened by collective destruction.



To avoid the possible discontinuation of New Contrast we are urgently appealing to you for help in one or both of the following ways. Firstly, purchase an annual subscription for yourself or someone else by the process of buying a subscription. Secondly, please make a donation by selecting one of the options on our Donations page. New Contrast has been the leading literary journal in South Africa for six decades, and with your help, we commit to ensuring it remains so for decades to come.



SKIN OF THE RIVER by Melissa Webster
When the trucks are loud and heavy on the bridge above me, and there is too much sharp light from the metal bodies of so many cars flowing in front of me, I lean back into the shadows of the cool cement wall, close my eyes, and feel I am sitting by a river.



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)