n New Coin Poetry - "Inside our bodies / the terrible words must burn" : editing a new selection of South African poetry : prose

Volume 49, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 0028-4459



The demise of apartheid has meant that opportunities for showcasing South African poetry overseas have diminished. South Africa is no longer seen in global eyes as the 'flashpoint' it once was; and the kind of reader who wishes to get 'bulletins from the frontline' (so to speak) has shifted his or her attention elsewhere. Although I am wary of an 'anthropological' impulse in some readers of poetry from abroad, this reduction of attention has nevertheless been their loss; as South African English-language poets in the decades after liberation have risen admirably to the challenge of broadening their scope in terms of subject matter, perspective and form. This period has arguably produced some of the most compelling poetry this country has ever witnessed. Perhaps for the first time, there have been signs that South African poets are starting to influence each other as a matter of course across traditional social and aesthetic boundaries, absorbing and using a plethora of influences both global and local.

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