Wendy Keran Engela (neé Gloss), who has all the right qualifications, skills and experience to be regarded as a Gothic artist and poet, including being an incorrigible grammar-Nazi, having the prerequisite dark existential outlook, depression, a twisted sense of humor – and having survived at least one (official) suicide attempt.
Wendy – who prefers to be called ‘Kay’ – began experimenting with poetry at 15, beginning with her first effort “Darkness Falls”, quickly followed by her second, “Tombstone”, which resulted in some pretty worried looks from her mother. Since that time, Kay went on to write over 100 more poems (which her parents have never read).
Kay was born in Springs (the town, not actually wearing them) and later grew somewhat taller in a tiny flyspeck on the map called “Kriel”.
Being the elder (and more homicidal) of two siblings born to the usual two parents, Wendy – who prefers to be called ‘Kay’ – arrived on this planet approximately six months after her parents tied an untieable knot in front of a small family gathering, and began her love affair with books and reading them, at the tender age of six years.
Despite a youth in which she failed to commit fratricide, one of her most impressive achievements, she says, was to exhaust all the worthwhile reading material in her junior school library, then the high school library (which she helped re-establish) – and ultimately, the public library of her small town’s adult section – before the ripe old age of 19!
She has traveled through all nine provinces of South Africa in her lifetime – not entirely by choice – and has lived in Cape Town (Western Cape), Hazyview (Mpumalanga) and presently lurks in a cozy townhouse in Port Elizabeth (Eastern Cape), next door to an inconvenience store (in a neighbor’s garage) ironically called the “Good Luck Cafe”.
School & Work
In her varied working career, Kay dabbled in an extremely diverse array of fields – you could say she never settled anywhere, having worked in almost every industry except mining, fishing and government.
After high school and the obligatory period of casual waitressing and bar-tending (coincidentally most of her darkest poetry came from this period – right along with her second attempt to leave home) Kay entered an internet cafe and didn’t leave for two years, during which she learned to fix PC’s, printers and to type theses for local students at 30 words per minute.
After that, for fun, Kay spent six months at a real estate firm where she and the boss didn’t see eye to eye (she made up for it by rearranging the keys on his keyboard, and by making him coffee with salt in it – without him ever noticing). Next, she worked at a liquor distributor, supplying liquor to local hotels, pubs, restaurants and B&B’s – until she got fired after three months… for not being social!
Hazyview, where Kay existed for ten years (more or less) struck her as a place where pretty much everything seemed to be out to kill her – including giant venomous cat-wrestling millipedes. Ever up for a challenge, Kay took a job in tourism, booking accommodation and tourist activities, and encouraging people to spend their money on touristy stuff while trying very hard to not get clients lost when giving them directions to view the Tropic of Capricorn. Life in Hazyview appeared to be pretty ordinary, except that unsupervised pets were frequently eaten by transient snakes and leopards, and a free-range tourist would occasionally get flattened by an angry hippo near the river, or gnawed upon by lions near the Kruger Park gate.
Shortly after moving from Hazyview to Cape Town, Kay worked – briefly – on a horse farm, where she would whisper in the ears of nervous nags to encourage them to shape up – or look forward to the knackers. When that job didn’t work out as planned, she went to work in a bona fide haunted attorney’s office in a very old house in Strand (Cape Town) where a ghostly “office assistant” would sometimes pass things to staff – and made invisible tea in the office kitchen.
Back in Hazyview about nine months later, Kay worked in a bookshop – where her co-workers thought she was a bit strange because she would verbally chastise books caught loitering where they weren’t supposed to be. Later, while working as a substitute teacher to a grade 3 class at a local school, she discovered quite by chance that she was allergic to children – they made her sick. With flu. For a whole month.
Thereafter, Kay entered into a sordid affair with the hospitality industry, taking her first job at a B&B – where the owners drew her into numerous daily intellectual challenges replete with riddles and augmented by experiments on the front lawn with bottle-rockets and other strange science projects seen on YouTube. Kay would rather not talk about the second lodge she worked at – the owner there fired Kay on account of her being Pagan, and because she thought Kay was crazy – and Kay doesn’t like to speak ill of the dead.
Nine months later, Kay entered the retail industry, working at what was basically a combination outdoor camping shop and used car dealership. Being the only girl in a group of big, burly Afrikaans ‘boere manne’, had its advantages – and Kay looks back at that time fondly.
In February 2016, Kay found herself unexpectedly boarding a plane to Port Elizabeth (as a result of an equally unexpected divorce) and arrived a little later in an oddball coastal city where local politicians settle their differences by braining opponents with glass water pitchers and hurling coffee mugs at each other in City Hall.
Since then, Kay has finally found happiness with Christina Engela, whom she fondly describes as her soul mate. Kay and Christina got married in March 2018, and live happily ever after.
Although Wendy K. Gloss has experimented with various styles and mediums, starting with paper; using pencil and fine-point markers and printer-ink pens to draw and color her creations. One of her favorite techniques is to draw a shape lightly in pencil, and then to fill it with stylized words related to the shape, which she then outlines and colors using markers.
She has subsequently moved on to acrylic paint on canvas, and has already sold several completed works her patrons.
Wendy K. Engela writes dark poetry, generally about what she refers to as ‘uncomfortable subjects’, such as the run-of-the-mill depression, heartache, tragedy, death and suicide, based on her philosophical outlook and own life experiences.
Her style generally tends to be free-verse poetry. Some of her poems are lighter (believe it or not) and are based on nature, Pagan spirituality, vampires and even, almost incredibly, a little romance – but she considers her darker poetry to be her better work due to the raw emotive content.
“Season’s Change“, a collection of Kay’s poetry, was released in June 2019.
Favorite poets include:
Poe, Yeats, Shakespeare.