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IT ALL BEGINS (article first published : 2002-11-18)

Adams Campus Bookshop and the University Of Natal Press is shortly to launch It All Begins : Poems from Postliberation South Africa, edited by Robert Berold with an afterword by Kelwyn Sole.

It All Begins is a collection of poems in English by over 50 South African poets (and some Zimbabweans), with some contemporary translations from /Xam, Afrikaans, Xhosa, Xitsonga and isiZulu. All the poems were published in the poetry journal New Coin between 1989 and 1999.

These poems were written over a period which included the brutal last years of apartheid, the release of Mandela, the country’s first democratic elections, and the disturbing trends of the post-Mandela era. During this time the violence of previous decades continued (although in different forms), while the poor became poorer.

For poets, it was a time of innovation. Music, street rhythms, and international influences were opening up the vocabulary. Groundbreaking poems were being written -- many of them unnoticed when they were first published. Collected in this anthology, they demonstrate the aesthetic diversity and truthtelling power of South African poetry.

In his Preface Robert Berold says: “In 1989, when I began to edit the poetry journal New Coin, I had been reading poetry for a long time. I realised I should select poems in the same way I chose to read poems. Did the poem move or nourish me? Was it useful in my life? Did it wake me up? Did I want to read the poem again? Did it say something new the second time?

“.. I have read (these poems) ten or twenty times and I still find them exciting. They are documents of personal and public history, records from geographical and imaginative places. They are poems of mood, stories, music, prophecies, confusions. They demonstrate the skill and aesthetic range of Southern African poets in the 1990s”.

Poets include: Lionel Abrahams; Tatamkhulu Afrika; Lisa Combrinck; Michael Cope; Jeremy Cronin; Ingrid de Kok; Angifi Dladla; Antjie Krog; Mazisi Kunene; Don Maclennan; Joan Metelerkamp; Kobus Moolman; Khulile Nxumalo; Mxolisi Nyezwa; Andries Oliphant; Karen Press; Lesego Rampolokeng; Ari Sitas; Kelwyn Sole and Stephen Watson.

Through his dedicated editorship of New Coin, Robert Berold has created an arena for many different poetic voices in South Africa to flourish. His published collections of poems include The Door to the River (1984), The Fires of the Dead (1989) and Rain Across a Paper Field (1999). Berold is a freelance editor and writer and lives near Grahamstown.




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