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DOUGLAS LIVINGSTONE … WE PRESUME? (article first published : 2001-09-20)

For poetry lovers, Douglas Livingstone … We Presume? is a must. Presented for one performance in the Lecture Theatre at The Natal Witness Hilton Arts Festival on September 22 at 18h45, the show features the poet’s analytical, searing and often highly sensual writing. For those not terribly sure if poetry is their "thing", this dramatised reading of works by the acclaimed Durban poet is an easy-going and comfortable introduction into this style of literature.

The show is directed by Patrick Collyer who appears with Caroline Smart and Peter Gardner. All close friends of the acclaimed poet, they take audiences on a fascinating journey into the life, works and personality of Douglas Livingstone. The programme features some of his finest poems such as Gentling a Wildcat, The Old Man on the Esplanade, The Zoo Affair, A Bamboo Day, Vulture and The Skull in the Mud.

“His abiding love for African wildlife, and for Africa itself, is beautifully expressed in his written work – spare, tough, muscular verse with never a wasted word,” says a review by Ulysses Online on artSMart. “Poetry is not high on readers’ priorities nowadays. An evening with Caroline and Peter could be an eye-opener to anyone who has ever wondered, “What IS poetry?” and “What is it like to be a poet?” They do a fine job of bringing Livingstone’s work to life; they obviously knew him better than most people did, and their presentation is made with deep affection as well as the respect that the material deserves.”

Patrick Leeman of The Mercury states: “Livingstone, certainly one of South Africa's best-known poets, was a man whom people found awkward and reserved where social relationships were concerned. The independent environmental consultant, however, broke out of the straitjacket of imposed convention when he turned to poetry. Here he found his voice, especially when dealing with wild animals, exotic flowers and environmental issues.

“Stalwarts of the Durban stage, Caroline Smart and Peter Gardner, have mounted a lively, amusing and thought-provoking production. They are gently and ably assisted by Patrick Collyer as he fills in interludes between the poetry on a resonant guitar.”

Tickets R25 and the duration is 60 minutes. For more information visit www.hilton.kzn.school.za/artsfest




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