Funeral service and insurance provider AVBOB, through its sponsorship of the AVBOB Poetry Project, gave South Africa the gentlest, most inclusive act of bereavement support in the form of an online poetry competition open for all 11 official languages.

In a first of its kind ever poets old and new were asked to submit poems on loss, grieving, love and consolation in their mother tongues. Eleven editors, one for each language were appointed to read through 20744 entries and select the best poems for publication on the online website, avbobpoetry.co.za. From these, in each language, a winning poem as well as a follow-up poem were chosen for the Avbob Poetry Prize.

As part of Avbob’s Centenary celebrations a volume of poems was put together consisting of 100 poems with English translations. In each language seven poets were commissioned to write a poem especially for this event: 77 commissioned poems, plus 22 poems from the competition, as well as one secret poem makes up the 100 poems collected in I wish I’d said.

This collection of poems, plus the online poetry portal forms a cathartic space where amateur and accomplished poets alike can use their craft to comfort others, at times when the right words are hard to find.