Jy blaai in die argief vir 2010 Desember.

#27 Sinew and bone – Ingrid Wolfaardt

Desember 14, 2010 in Sonder kategorie

Writers are frustrated artists and that’s bending it like Beckham with Picasso’s more eloquent way of putting it:

“Often, while reading a book, one feels that the author would have preferred to paint, rather than write; one can sense the pleasure he derives from describing a landscape or a person as if he were painting because deep in his heart, he would have preferred to use brushes and colours.”

To be fair, I find writers want to paint and painters want to write and there are but a few who seem to do both well. Locally, I know of award-winning Ingrid Winterbach and Louis Jansen van Vuuren, who has just published his first book of poetry after an illustrious career as a painter spanning a number of decades. I remember the retrospective of Salvador Dali held in London during the summer of 2001 – his beautiful, whimsical and bizarre images were interspersed with copious handwritten text and notes that were as visually pleasing to a non-Spanish speaker as his paintings and drawings. 

I am fascinated by writing and painting because I kamma-kamma do both myself and as Siamese twins I cannot find the beginning or the end of either, so intertwined and intimately involved they are with each other … and with me.

I wonder what comes first to a child? Sounds and song or the image of a mother leaning over the cot?

I suspect I started off life as a picture scribbler. I made stokmannetjies on any surface I could find: walls, tiles, floors, blotting paper, sand, cake dough – anything would do. Then crayons, pieces of charcoal from a braai, snapped-off sticks, burnt heads of matches, black koki for marking clothes and Bic ballpoint pens that left your hands covered in ink were the most common media and I could never ever listen to anyone in class – not even at university level – without drawing. “Doodling” would be closer to the truth – it calmed me down, and made me capable of actually listening to whoever was talking. Today I hear children are given Ritalin to achieve the same results; they should rather give them a big bag of kokis and a sheet of newsprint. This penchant for doodling came from no-where familial. No member could draw, nor did I receive any lessons in this except for the poster paint disasters one did at school with forty other naughty children, but it was always the illustrations in books that made me soar, float away to another world, be it Alice, the books of Dickens, the Famous Five series of Enid Blyton, amongst many others. Then there were the accessible prints of Tretchikoff and other lesser mortals in the homes of aunts and friends, but by the age of six the written word, the quieter of the twins, gave my doodling a go. I had to read. Anything would do. Newspapers, the backs of cereal boxes, signages on shops, manuals to washing machines, school libraries, adult books on the top shelf. Even DH Lawrence read skelmpies, having no idea what he was talking about half the time, but it was less the content than the actual words themselves. I would do a solo queue at the out of bounds school library during break time until a passing teacher softened and unlocked the door to paradise and it was in standard two that I discovered, as with my pictures, that this – what I was reading – could also be done by me. So I wrote my first play. I didn’t know how to, but with youthful enthusiasm I wrote, not just one but three and being true to my precocious, voor-op-die-wa nature, as always, I had them performed by friends, the performing troupe donating the sum of the entrance fee, a whole ten rand, to charity. I had found out by accident that the written word, when spoken, had power. Then, in standard four, a teacher brought a beautiful print (I now think it to be a Turner landscape) to class and we had to respond in words and I could not sleep that night, so enamoured was I with the words in my head that could mirror and transcend the exquisite scene before me. I came back to class the next day and recited my epic poem out of my head as I had rehearsed it through the night.

Words and images unlocked the sluice gates to my private world of imaginings.

I had not only discovered the power of the word – I had also discovered the power in myself to create something that had never existed before. Perhaps being the third child of four, it gave me a sense of omnipotence, of my own identity, undefined by others above and below me.

So what are the differences then if the process and discipline of creating is so similar?

Jenny Aglow in her small book entitled Words & Pictures says it so well, “A picture, a painting, an image captures a moment and holds it; its perpetual present at odds with the flow of narrative or orderly description. We see the whole but then look at the parts, putting them together in different ways.”

And yet they come from the same place, says Louis van Vuuren in the catalogue to his latest exhibition “Things remembered and things desired”.

And can one be said to be the superior of another? Does Tolstoy’s War and Peace supercede Picasso’s Guernica in genius, in its ability to awe and entertain, and thrill and move us through the whole gamut of emotions and, like all great art, give us new insights?

Antjie Krog, and I quote her liberally from a radio interview, says that poetry leads us to live with heightened awareness, but so does a painting of Van Gogh when we stand before it and marvel – no landscape can ever be viewed again with the same eyes.

I find that word and image are inextricably linked, like sinew and bone. They are in dialogue and yet their language of communication is coded differently – a word is more and less than an image and vice versa. As Alice in Wonderland says, “And what is the use of a book, without pictures or conversations?”

Together they are greater than the individual sum, as each offers its own unique perspective on the diverse experience we call life and our striving to make sense of it, to hold it for a moment in our hands and know, if only partially: writing and painting bring me a little closer to that and so I ride them like an acrobat rides horses at the circus, one foot planted on the back of one and the other foot on the other, while chasing around the arena at top speed, trying to keep my balance, enjoying the wider view from up there.

#26 Hating poetry – Bev Rycroft

Desember 9, 2010 in Sonder kategorie

“Poetry?” said Marianne Moore, “I, too dislike it.” A little arch, perhaps, for such a consummate poet, but you get the point. The reputation of poetry as obscure, irrelevant and inaccessible deters so many from enjoying what it can provide.

The irony is, without our even being aware of it, poetry is skulking in the nooks and crannies of every part of our lives. We use it unconsciously. Think of things your mother told you, family phrases which get repeated and become entrenched. (One of my newer poems is based around the litany of my father complaining each year: “I won’t be here next Christmas. Wait. You’ll see.”) Think of the brouhaha about the song “De la Rey”; Mandela’s memorisation of the lines from Invictus; Obama’s “Yes we can”.

Poet Seamus Heaney, on being asked if there was a figure in popular culture who has aroused interest in poetry and lyrics in the way Bob Dylan and John Lennon did during the 1960s and ‘70s, responded: “There is this guy Eminem. He has created a sense of what is possible.”

So how do we do more to flick off the veils of elitism and obscurity around poetry?

Live readings are a good start. Recently, at a reading at Barrydale, I listened to Finuala Dowling read from Notes from the Dementia Ward  (recently awarded the Olive Schreiner prize). It struck me that even though I have heard and read the poems many times before, they are so carefully and finely crafted that each time I discover something new about structure, discipline and craft.

The Barrydale audience, however, were at the first level, that of being entertained by witty vignettes (or, as one patron called them, “vinaigrettes”). Their response was proof that a good live reading is the polar opposite of a flickering screen with evanescent images. The real flesh-and-blood-warmed words being rolled out for an attentive audience can convert even the most cynical.

But to get people to live readings, we need to do something about the perceptions that bar poetry from many who might surprise themselves by enjoying it.

We need guerrilla tactics.

How about printing a line or verse from a poem on shopping bags? The first verse of Gcina Mhlope’s “Sometimes when it rains”would fit nicely:

Sometimes when it rains
I smile to myself
And think of times when as a child
I’d sit by myself
And wonder why people need clothes.

Or, more simply, Alan Ginsberg’s “When can I go into the supermarket and buy what I need with my good looks?”

How about commandeering those overhead electric noticeboards on the highways? It might improve Cape Town fatalities if, as we whizz past Newlands forest on a Saturday night we were to read: 

Two lane pile up ahead.
Do not go gentle into that goodnight.

Or in the post office queue, instead of reading about the price of stamps :

It’s so long ago since we last heard from you –
I hope this letter finds you still at the old address.
It is the only address we know.
YOUR MOTHER 

(Charles Mungoshi)

You could insert lines from poems on the scoreboards at half-time at rugby matches; at the place settings for a wedding (“incompatibility is the spice of life,/ particularly if he has income and she is pattable” – Ogden Nash); in gift packages in a maternity ward (“Love set you going like a fat gold watch” – Sylvia Plath).

Imagine driving to work in the morning and seeing, as an antidote to the horrors of newspaper banners, verses from poems stapled on the trees? What if graffiti artists could be converted to the cause?

Starting with a verse or a line, people might just get reeled in enough to look up the actual poem, to see the possibilities of poetry as being witty, profound, heartbreaking, elating, enlightening, stimulating.

They might finally realise that a good poem can squeeze the maximum out of the paltry words available to express the nigh-ineffable. It can lure you in, provoke an emotion (laughter, sorrow, courage). Then move from the speaker (“me”) to the listener (“you”) and segue into “us” – the common experience which allows us to laugh (or weep or battle on) together.

When you read a good poem you deliver it from the page’s white ocean, at first only a thin line connecting you as you draw it in. Then you  feel the scales grazing your fingers, the slippery flesh beneath them. The innards that slide from the silver envelope you slit in its belly. You place the cooked flesh in your mouth, gently dividing it from the bone to taste. Finally, the beautiful skeleton that underpinned it all lies on your plate. And can be seen and tasted and examined again. And again and again.

Particularly on those dark nights of the soul when you lie holding a pillow over your head in shame or pain or loneliness. Then you can flick with a practised thumb to the well-worn page, from Sappho to Eliot to Louise Gluck or Rita Dove, to find words, some of them carved in stone or papyrus centuries ago, that will assure you: someone else has felt this way before.

In a recent radio interview I took part in, a Johannesburg doctor spoke of her practice, one which specialises in chronic pain management. As part of her treatment she selects for each new patient a poem that comes close to describing what they feel.

What better way to dispel the terror of the material world and all the associations of a white coat, to show a person that we are all human, that the artistry of words can make us less lonely?

Words are our first way of getting some kind of grip on the world we arrive in. Crafting them into poetry is the best way I know of freeing us from it too.

#25 Some thoughts on writing youth novels – Maya Fowler

Desember 9, 2010 in Sonder kategorie

Recently I’ve been drawn into the world of youth novels, mainly through stumbling across competitions and being unable to resist entering.

At first I asked myself how I could possibly write for this market. I certainly didn’t fit in when I was at the age in question, so now, with more than a decade (and counting …) between me and my potential readers, how could I engage them? As it happens, I’m not keen to populate my fiction with Hannah Montana-type characters or references to Jay-Z and the gang. But one can’t help feeling you should, just to get through.

Then I read some really great youth novels that capture the spirit of the times without submerging the reader in popular culture all that much – and without much focus, even, on tech. Was I ever excited! Because on the one hand you feel you need to embrace these topics to engage with your reader, but on the other hand, these are exactly the kind of thing that will date your writing and make it unappealing to young readers in five years’ time. Heck, with the speed at which tech gallops on, not to mention how quickly celeb romances hit the rocks and starlets fade, by the time your manuscript has been transformed into a printed book, the thing could already seem less than fresh. So, what about e-books, you ask. Yes, preparing something for this format might be marginally faster, but surely only just – for a book of quality you’re still going need to spend loads of time on editing and design. And, of course, marketing doesn’t happen overnight either.

Back to the “subtle” youth novels I mention above. My first discovery in this was Praise Song by Jenny Robson. It’s just beautiful, and would surely appeal to its target audience as much as it did to me. The main theme – Aids – is tremendously topical, and it’s approached with honesty and compassion, without ever sinking to the lows of sentimentality or preachiness. And not a Disney character, gangsta rapper or Paris Hilton wannabe in sight. And what could possibly be wrong with that? This is a serious youth novel, set in rural South Africa.

As long as you have the core intact you can’t go wrong. What I mean by “core” is speaking to teens about the age-old universals: curiosity about, even obsession with, love and sex; looking good to the group; being misunderstood by everyone around you; struggling even to understand yourself; struggling to find your place in this enormous world; the search for acceptance … Surely when you portray these things convincingly, it’s not necessary to invoke Hollywood/Bollywood/Wii/iThis/iThat, of which next year’s superior model will make your writing seem passé?

I Am The Messenger, by the brilliant Markus Zusak of The Book Thief fame, is another example of the unencumbered youth / young adult novel. Zusak’s avoidance of tech references and pop culture gives the novel a combination of focus, permanence and a dreamlike quality. He’s specific about feelings, vague about the top twenty. The action could be set anywhere in the past thirty years, maybe even the next twenty. The same goes for Kevin Brooks’s Martyn Pig – a little higher on tech, but only just. This is pure storytelling: a sassy voice, an outsider muddling his way through life, trying to cope with an alcoholic father and the girl he likes being in love with some loser. Gripping stuff, and without all the bells and whistles of MTV.

Let me point out that I’m all for MTV and the rest of it. Sprinkling it into your fiction really can work. But what I’m trying to establish is whether, and how, you can engage young readers without it. So here’s a thought. How about, rather than luring youngsters with what they already know, bringing them into a realm where the action is alive, but the setting is somehow pared down. How about giving youth novels all the noise they need, but cutting out on the same old movies, the same old music, the same old jingles they hear every day? The only song I remember from Praise Song was “Paradise Road” – pretty much a golden oldie, by now, and woven into the text carefully and with purpose.

Really, what I’m probably trying to figure out for myself, is how I might work at a genre between fantasy and reality – something that will transport the reader as much as fantasy would, yet seems more plausible, more likely to happen to your reader at some stage. So, yes, more realistic, but without the overrealism of pop culture and references to people and things that might just become obscure. It’s probably fair to say that, with novels such as Sophie’s World, Jostein Gaarder has created the kind of space to which I’m alluding.

Meanwhile, the following excerpt from Craig Higginson’s piece got me thinking:

One doesn’t open a novel by Anne Tyler or Roddy Doyle and find sentences like “He got into his A160 Mercedez-Benz with leather seats, power steering and a Matrix tracking device.” In a bad historical or “period” novel, however, we might find a sentence that reads, “He got into his 1896 Hansom four-wheeler with spring suspension and plush crimson seats.” Because the historical novel is displaced in time, we feel we need to describe each detail – paint the picture for the reader. But this is to undermine the richness of the collective memory the reader brings to a book, play or film. As I say – we know much more than we think we know. A good work of fiction should demand that we tap into our own imaginations in order to bring the piece to life. The audience and reader need to be engaged and provoked in a way that is not all surface detail and local colour.

By adding that much of pop culture, mightn’t one overpopulate the work with detail in the same way Higginson describes that too much historical detail weighs down the work? His example above could as easily be turned into “He got into his new Z6 with white leather seats and plugged in his colour-matched iPod, which started blasting ‘Linkin Park’”. I think the same holds here, namely that the writer is “undermin[ing] the richness of collective memory [or collective cultural knowledge] the reader brings to the book”.

I’d be interested to hear the opinions of other readers and writers.

  • Maya Fowler debuted with The Elephant in the Room, a novel, in 2009 (Kwela Books). She has published short stories in New Contrast, and her first youth novel, As jy ’n ster sien verskiet, is set to be released in 2011 (Tafelberg Publishers).

#24(p) Is die hand van Suid-Afrikaanse kritici te sag? (Francois Verster)

Desember 8, 2010 in Sonder kategorie

Die debat op LitNet oor Suid-Afrika se resensente (“Is die hand van Suid-Afrikaanse kritici te sag?”) is nogal interessant, al dien dit grootliks as versterking van mens se vermoedens. Sommige mense het nogal goeie kommentare te lewer – ook Crito se stelling dat resensente meer skeppend kan skryf. Uiteraard is dit meer toepaslik op LitNet, waar daar ruimte is om dit te doen – en hier is dit iets wat nogal soms misgekyk word: jy kan nie ‘n 500-woord-, in-‘n-resep-vasgekettingde kommentaar vergelyk met amper die teenoorgestelde, naamlik ‘n koerant se resensies teenoor LitNet se resensies, nie. Wanneer mens te veel ruimte het, is dit ook nie altyd goed nie, het ek self agtergekom, maar dis tog goed om die hele spektrum te beleef.

Wat my die meeste interesseer, is die resensente wat ook skrywers is – hulle het meesal empatie met ander se werk; maar dan is daar ook diegene wat professionele jaloesie koester en loslaat op ander. Ek onthou hoe my joernalistiek-dosent by CPUT sy hande gevryf het met die woorde dat hy al lank wag op hierdie geleentheid – om ‘n vyand se werk oop te ruk van die lies tot die strot. Dit het my met afgryse gevul – soos toe ek op universiteit kom en ontdek dat ek al ou in die span is wat dink mens speel die bal en nie die opponent nie. Eish … wrong century? Kannie wees ‘ie!

Die sogenaamde bloedskandelike verhouding binne ons literêre én geografiese grense mag waar wees, maar dan is dit sekerlik nie slegs hier die geval nie: mense vergeet gereeld – oor politieke, kultuur- en ander sake ook – dat mense is mense is mense en dit sal altyd, oral, so wees. Elke leser, elke skrywer en elke resensent (Crito ook?) het sy/haar voorkeure en vooroordele. Ongelukkig.

Mens moet net jou bes probeer en nie onnodig nydig raak oor die ander outjies en vroutjies wat son soek nie.

 

 

 

 

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#24(o) Is die hand van Suid-Afrikaanse kritici te sag? Oor resensies (JB Roux)

Desember 7, 2010 in Sonder kategorie

In ’n onlangse resensie verwys ek ’n skrywer terug skryfskool toe. Sy krabbel ’n boodskappie op my Facebook-muur en maak my af as “venynig”.
         
Ek skrik my koud vir dié graffiti: sê nou my slotsom wás te kras? Net daar stuur ek vir haar ’n e-pos en oortree so die eerste reël vir resensieskrywers: moet nooit ’n oordeelsfout erken nie, nie eens teenoor God nie. En die tweede wat hiermee gelyk staan: ’n resensent vra nooit om verskoning nie. Om te oortree is om jouself van gesag te stroop en dalk nie weer ernstig opgeneem te word nie.

Afrikaanse resensente is oor die algemeen sag van hart en hulle voete kleierig. Ek verstom my oor hoe ver sommige kritici agteroor buig om ’n boek wat ’n vuishou verdien, oor die kneukels te streel.

Die hoofrede vir sulke lamsakkigheid is dat die bedryf betreklik klein is. Almal ken min of meer vir almal. Hoe kan ’n resensent professor X se poësiebundeltjie in die pers afskiet as hy en professor X nou die dag gesellig soutigheidjies uitgeruil het tydens ’n ánder skrywer se boekvrystelling? En jy weet nooit of die skrywer wat jy so “venynig” bygekom het, later persoonlik aan jou voorgestel gaan word nie: die verleentheid!

Ander resensente het eenvoudig nie die moed om ’n bekroonde skrywer hier van onder af met ’n gifpyl by te kom nie. En ’n boek wat deur ’n resensent uitmekaargepluk word, is dalk uitgegee deur die resensent (wat óók skryf) se eie uitgewer. Of sê nou ’n “slagoffer” word gevra om op haar beurt jóú jongste vrystelling te beoordeel.

Al hou ek soms my lyf gifappeltjie, is my resensies gewoonlik mak. Nie weens ’n gebrek aan moed of vurigheid nie, maar as gevolg van ’n Calvinistiese ingesteldheid, daardie sin vir ordentlikheid wat by ons ingeteel is.

Maar kort ná my verskonende e-pos aan die skrywer neem ek my ’n nuwe blaadjie voor: van nou af lê die karwats neffens die kardoesie suigstokkies. Boekebladredakteurs verkies rooskleurige resensies, maar dalk werf brutale eerlikheid nuwe aanhangers.

Resensente skryf vir lesers. Uitgewers vat soms kanse en resensente moet verbruikers help om ingeligte keuses te maak. Soms is bitsigheid nodig. As ek my resensie oor die boek met ’n “sagter” slotreël afgesluit het, sou heelwat meer mense die boek gaan koop het. En is daar ’n groter teleurstelling as om ’n boek – pragtige omslag, prikkelende flapteks en prominent uitgestal – kasregister toe te dra, by die huis te kom en weldra te besef jy het jou geld gemors? Daardie “high” wat ’n mens beleef deur fisiek ’n boek te gaan koop, val soms baie gou plat.

Boodskappers word dikwels gekruisig, maar ek sien kans om gehaat te word – deur uitgewers, skrywers, aanhangers wat nie kan aanvaar dat hulle skrywershelde soms ’n geseling verdien nie. My enigste vrees is voortaan dat ’n leser my sal voorkeer en sê: “Hoekom het jy my nie gewáársku nie?”

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#24(n) Are South African critics too soft? (Phillippa Yaa de Villiers)

Desember 3, 2010 in Sonder kategorie

Language is not neutral and everything we say is steeped in our historical/political context.

Critics stand between the work and the audience and in South Africa I often feel that the word criticism is not well understood: it is taken as meaning “disapproval”, which is only one interpretation of the word. Criticism is also the “practice of analysing, classifying, interpreting, or evaluating literary or other artistic works”, which requires more from the critic than just a “this is not my taste so therefore I will pan it” mentality. Art is a process of learning by doing. Writers are the most vulnerable critics because we are always thinking “there but for the grace of god go I”. I tend to be circumspect about exposing my criticism.

I recently wrote a positive review of Nape e’Montana’s Son-in-law of the Boere. I encouraged the hygroman/romance audience to read it, because even though I am not a big fan of that particular genre, I thought it expanded the possibilities of love in South Africa. It was also set at an interesting time in South Africa’s history, just after the first democratic elections in 1994.

The joy of living in a developing country is that we don’t know what will stand the test of time. Some books are written for fun reading, and it’s wrong to be too heavy-handed about these works. Let people read and enjoy. We don’t have huge bastions of the right way or wrong way of telling a story. It’s still developing and we should allow that to continue. People are coming from all over with their stories. The rules will not change too much, but we need to own them.

Peter Brook described theatre as existing between the poles of holy or sacred and deadly in his influential work The Empty Space. I assume that all artists aspire to create “sacred”, or at least moving or entertaining, work. Nobody wants to make crappy work; if the thing misses we all lose. To be told how we didn’t grab the audience can sometimes help us, but usually our critics discourage us and destroy our work.

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#24(m) Are South African critics too soft? (Isabella Morris)

Desember 3, 2010 in Sonder kategorie

Who are the reviewers? Academics, journalists, housewives, readers, writers? Important to know, because these perspectives shape and colour the review. It isn’t a question of whether reviewers are too soft or even too harsh. It’s more a case of some reviewers not understanding their role, which is to inform readers / would-be readers about the book. Publications should avoid using reviewers whose ego gets in the way of their job of reviewing. As a reader I basically want a brief idea of what the book is about and then I would like to know what particular skill the writer has – characterisation, mood, expertise, etc. I want to read a review of the book as a stand-alone – not in reference to the writer’s other books. Sometimes I find that some reviewers rely too much on the writer’s previous publishing credits and therefore “promise” a good read. And finally I want the critic to be honest. Not scathing or gushing, just honest. I want to believe that the critic has read the book cover to cover, not just a synopsis and the first chapter or two.

As a writer reading reviews, I want to know what zing the book has that a thousand other books on the same topic/theme don’t! If I don’t get that information in the review, chances are I will not buy the book. I am more likely to buy a book that has been recommended to me by word of mouth, where I can engage with the reader who has read the book, than I am to buy a book based solely on a review.

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#24(l) Are South African critics too soft? (Richard de Nooy)

Desember 3, 2010 in Sonder kategorie

When I first started blogging, I decided to review the books of authors I had met while promoting my own book in South Africa. I opted to write open letters, mainly because this ensured a more personal touch and greater sensitivity to the feelings of the authors. By posing questions or raising issues about their books, I hoped to prompt discussion. In some instances, this proved highly successful, sparking to a broad overview of opinions that offered new insight. In other instances, the attention was less than welcome, raising doubts and questions as to the ethics of authors reviewing authors. The most important thing, in all instances, is that the reviews appeared online, allowing others to post their own (contrary) opinions, which was the whole point of the exercise.

Constructive criticism, openly expressed, not only helps us become better writers, but also ensures that readers know that they can rely on reviewers to express their opinion honestly and fully. I also believe that authors should be less sensitive when confronted with reviews written by people they know. We all have different roles in life. When I coach my son’s soccer team, I tend to be quite strict and noisy, but I also offer constructive criticism and compliments, and I am delighted when I see the kids developing their skills and insight into the game. But once we have left the pitch (whether it be after a match or training session) I become my usual self and the kids have no problem approaching me with questions and complaints. In short, I can be a critical coach, a loving father and a good friend, without falling prey to schizophrenia.

I am thrilled whenever anyone takes the time to express an opinion about my writing. And I often find that negative reviews spark more discussion than positive ones. In short, I welcome any opinion on my writing, regardless of whether it is positive or negative.

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#24(k) Are South African critics too soft? (Rosemund Handler)

Desember 3, 2010 in Sonder kategorie

Some South African critics make little or no attempt to judge a book objectively, according to its literary merits. They offer few insights into the theme, characters and possible message of the work; in some cases the review could be written by admiring friends of the writer. Other reviews are poorly written and ill-informed; still others more closely resemble a personal attack rather than literary analysis.

Colour and gender are major factors when it comes to reviewing space: white females, for instance, who constitute the largest group of fiction writers, get the least reviewing space, and are largely overlooked when it comes to local prizes; black males get the most reviewing space and the awards to boot. And local is not necessarily as lekker as it should be, judging by the large chunks of book pages devoted to overseas publications.

Reviewing is a pretty thankless job; as a result, to a degree it has become the preserve of those who enjoy seeing their name in print, and who have the spare time and money (not always the skills) to do it. A local writer I know gives no credence to the reviews of his books. Disillusioned by local critics he describes as “self-appointed”, he simply never reads them.

  • Tsamma Season, Rosemund’s third novel, was shortlisted for the 2010 Commonwealth Prize, Africa region. The Weekender described Tsamma as “A haunting love song to the Kalahari”. Madlands, Rosemund’s first novel, written during her MA in creative writing at UCT, came out in 2006, and her second novel, Katy’s Kid, in 2007. All three novels are published by Penguin and are available at good bookstores, and online at kalahari.net.

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#24(j) Is die hand van Suid-Afrikaanse kritici te sag? (Malene Breytenbach)

Desember 3, 2010 in Sonder kategorie

Kritiek is nodig, maar dit moenie smoor nie. Dit is veel makliker om te kritiseer as te skep. By al die kunste is daar resensente/kritici wat hulle aanmatig om ander se werk te beoordeel. Soms sit hulle die stoel skoon mis. Ongenadige kritiek kan so kwetsend wees dat ’n mens oor jou eie vermoëns twyfel. Dit is nie bevorderlik vir skep nie. Kritiek ten opsigte van ons kuns is nie te sag nie. Soms is dit striemend. Hou net in gedagte dat dit onmoontlik is om uiteenlopende smake tevrede te stel.

Die kunste in Suid-Afrika voer ’n stryd om bestaan. Daar is nie meer kunsterade in die provinsies om dit te bevorder nie, daarom moet kunstefeeste gehou word. Slegs twee persent van die mense gaan na kunsuitstallings, maar die kunstenaars moet ’n lewe maak. Ons kan bly wees dat ons kuns nog vry is om uiteenlopende en soms vreemde produkte op te lewer – wat geniet of veroordeel kan word. Behoed ons van die dag wanneer die kunste gedienstig gemaak moet word aan die politiek. By daardie soort beoordelaars sal ons moeilik verbykom.

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