Project Description

Rethabile Masilo

Rethabile Masilo is a Mosotho poet who has lived in France for more than 30 years. He left his country, Lesotho, as a refugee in 1981, eventually ending up in the USA. He moved to France in 1987 where he has resided ever since.

Masilo has published four books of poetry as well as two poetry anthologies that he edited. In 2014 his poem ‘Swimming’, from his second book Waslap won the Dalro First Prize in poetry, as well as the Thomas Pringle Award for Poetry in South African periodicals a year later. The poem had first appeared in the magazine New Coin, Vol. 49 Number 1, in June 2013.

In 2016 Waslap was awarded The Glenna Luschei Prize for African Poetry. That same year he was invited to the 20th Poetry Africa Festival in Durban, where he also represented The World Poetry Movement. In June 2019 he was part of The International Poetry Festival of Medellin in Colombia, to whose 30th anniversary festival in 2020 he was also invited.

His books are ‘Things that are silent’ (Pindrop Press, 2012), ‘Waslap’ (The Onslaught Press, 2015), ‘Letter to country’ (Canopic Publishing, 2016), and ‘Qoaling’ (The Onslaught Press, 2018). He blogs at PRL ( and co-edits Canopic Jar ( with the writer Phil Rice. Rethabile is preparing a manuscript, ‘Mbera: New & Selected poems’, for publication in 2022.

Going Through My Father’s Things

The documents my father left rustle inside the drawers
of his study, seeking prominence. I’ve come home
from Europe to help my mother sort this once and for all,
newspaper cuttings, one of which I sent to a Cape Town poet
who would know what thought made my father keep it;
leaflets scattered in drawers, and letters,
letters of pleas to the world to give his children scholarships,
and deep love letters when he was courting my mother,
before they left Morija and went to Maseru.
She says when she called me for help these
had started rattling the desk like a poltergeist,
and once, she recollects, she could smell smoke
coming from the room.
Some of the papers were dusty.
But when we were done with that room it was tidy,
my father’s thoughts in files along several shelves,
like the books he was going to write. Overwhelming,
to sit here among his things, and pull a writing pad forward,
and find you have absolutely nothing to say to the world.
I pick up the copy of a Reformed Church Nicene Creed
he once copied out in longhand, and framed,
and remain in that dark room, searching for meaning.