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The Good Life Dirty Life

Adam Schwartzman

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Categories: 20th Century, African
Imprint: Carcanet Poetry
Publisher: Carcanet Press
Available as:
Paperback (64 pages)
(Pub. May 1995)
Out of Stock
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  • Nobody knows about my love. Pylons in the sunflower fields,
    in the maize fields, rain tanks, wood smoke, cosmos, reservoirs.With
        feet up
    in the sleeping car, I am remembering myself. Between two cities
        nobody knows.
    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.
    Adam Schwartzman was born in Johannesburg in 1973. At present he is an associate at the Centre for African Studies at the University of Cape Town and works in rural development. Carcanet publish his first two collections of poetry The Good Life, The Dirty Life and other stories (1995) and Merrie ... read more
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