Author: Tebogo Nong
Reviewer: Ruth de Cerff
In Tebogo Nong’s latest poetry collection Cycles, personal growth is a never ending process
Cape Town based writer Tebogo Nong has released her second book of poetry, Cycles. The collection compares cycles of the moon, sun and earth to personal practices concerning the self, love, relationships and purpose.
With simplicity and straightforwardness, Cycles is composed of one hundred and three short poems, none of which exceed a page, that read almost as notes to self or daily affirmations. With an unwavering confidence Nong’s writing is instructive as she speaks to both herself and the reader about the important lessons she’s learned. Her questions are often phrased as statements, her tone final with conviction.
The collection is divided into four parts; New Moon: Self-Love, Solar Eclipse: Self-Reflection, Lunar Eclipse: Connections and Full Moon: Purpose. In each section Nong encourages the breaking of unhealthy cycles and the creation of healthier ones in their place, with the ultimate purpose of achieving personal growth.
Aligning with its title, the collection’s sections read almost like the pattern of breath. In New Moon: Self-Love she begins by exhaling. Nong writes as though speaking out loud to her body, to her heart, to her skin. She states both what she wants for these parts of herself and how she intends to love them. On their pages they read as self promises she has bound herself to by externalising them. Page 13 reads:
I want my life / To be an altar / Where love flows freely / Where power is used for good / Where grace is at the centre.
With Solar Eclipse: Self-Reflection Nong inhales, exploring what may haunt the internal. She reflects on the inner child, lying voices and parasites. She advises on “sitting with it” and the importance of processing in order to heal. Consistently Nong writes as though truths and realities can be chosen. Not that you should necessarily choose the truths she has written, but that you can and should choose your own.
With Lunar Eclipse: Connections she breathes out again, writing about the lessons she’s learned in extending love to others. The section speaks of boundaries and definitions, the love she’s had and the love she’s decided she wants going forwards. Finally with Full Moon: Purpose she inhales again to focus on personal purpose, passion and calling. She explores imposter syndrome and self doubt, as well as certainty and honouring your calling with action.
It is calming to read Nong’s confidence in the lessons she’s shared. Although she writes with wisdom, Nong does not present to have perfected every practice she encourages. Throughout Cycles it is clear that she believes the work she describes is a process and that these disciplines become most powerful in repetition as they imitate lifelong cycles, like the moon’s never-ending orbit of the earth.