Henk Rossouw’s Xamissa is unlike any other literary work I’ve encountered before. Moving gracefully between prose poems, lyric fragments, typography, and gorgeously rendered handwritten passages, Rossouw offers a text that is gratifying in its rich textures, its intricate layering, and its vibrant soundscapes.
Beautifully fractured and purposefully elusive, we are offered a narrative that is also an invitation, its luminous apertures beckoning to the reader. There is something undoubtedly generous about being trusted with the work building this imaginative topography, a landscape that is filled with “fire,” “light,” and music. Rossouw asks, “if my paper vigil outside the Lodge, in the late summer /wind, were to beckon U to the air slit on the stairwell / U would signal to me...with an ashen finger / to yr lips?” Here we are entrusted with secrets – “transcripts,” found language, footnotes and fragments. The reader quickly becomes confidante, collaborator, co-conspirator.
What’s more, we are reminded that it the space between things – whether it’s shifts in form, register, or voice – that makes room for the other. Here, it is the moment of rupture that lets the light through.