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Peter Horn

@ Sunday Times Books LIVE

About Peter Horn

Totalitarian regimes have the citizens and poets they deserve, those who accept the bayonets upon which order is based and who, by their silence or useless chatter, make themselves the accomplices of those who rule. Peter Horn’ is not one of these: he has chosen to be on the side of the oppressed, on the side of the future, of the dream of a multiracial society, in short, on the side of freedom. Making the most of his double privilege as a white and a poet in a country in which the whites are the masters and poetry the last remaining freedom, he challenges his fellow citizens, upbraids them relentlessly and prophesies the bad times ahead. Or else, slipping into their midst, he speaks on their behalf and says the things they do not dare to say out loud.

But there is also something of the strolling player about him, a mixture of the knock-about clown and the astrologer: of the first, he has the gift of the gab, of the turn of phrase that hits its mark, but there is seriousness beneath the wit. Like the astrologer, he invites his fellow citizens to read the signs of destiny written, not in the stars, but in their own actions, he draws on the symbols and myths that have the power to make apparent the latent tragedy of a situation on the verge of disaster and, using old fables and tales of other countries, he presents a theatre of shadows in which reality takes on fantastic and terrifying shapes.

Summary by Jacques Alvarez-Pereyre, The Poetry of Commitment in South Africa, Heinemann

Bibliography

Voices from the Gallows Trees. Ophir (1969)
Walking through our sleep. Ravan Press (1974)
Silence in Jail. Poems. Scribe Press (1979)
The Civil War Cantos. Scribe Press (1987)
Poems 1964 -1990. Johannesburg: Ravan (1991)
An Axe in the Ice. Poems. Johannesburg: COSAW Publishing House 1992
Derrière le vernis du soleil, poèmes 1964-1989. Choisis et traduit de l’anglais sud-africain par Jacques Alavarez-Péreyre. Dessins de Nils Burwitz. Paris: europePoesie (1993) 64 pp
The Rivers that Connect us to the Past. Survivors. Poems. Bellville: Mayibuye Press 1996
My Voice is Under control Now. Short Stories. Cape Town: Kwela 1999
Poems. Translated into Bangla by Aminur Rahman. Montreal, Dhaka, London: SACAC, KATHAK 2003

 

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