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The Good Life Dirty Life
ISBN: 978 1 857541 36 6
Categories: 20th Century, African
Imprint: Carcanet Poetry
Published: May 1995
215 x 135 x 5 mm
Publisher: Carcanet Press
Nobody knows about my love. Pylons in the sunflower fields,
in the maize fields, rain tanks, wood smoke, cosmos, reservoirs.With
in the sleeping car, I am remembering myself. Between two cities
from 'The Purple Train'
Adam Schwartzman is an African writing of African experiences. His remarkable first collection, formally assured, thematically mature, is marked by a youthful grasp of variously peopled landscapes. The poems are 'stories' which build together into a larger narrative of lives lived in the shadow of division. The poems were, for the most part, written in the three years preceding the transfer of power in South Africa in April 1994.
In four linked sections Schwartzman evokes a growing individual and an altering community. The first vividly particular part deals with the changing face of the country, including poems that mythologise urban South Africa and the conditions that shape it. Part two, more lyrical in nature, relives childhood relationships, the observations informed by a love affair, though the poems are not 'love poems'. In the third section the poet writes an elegy for his grandfather whose death defines pressures that determine his own perspectives, being Jewish and white in South Africa. The last, 'miscellaneous' section refracts the earlier lights through different formal and geographical lenses.
In this collection Schwartzman emerges fully fledged as a poet of remarkable substance.
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