Intimate Stranger

Intimate Stranger

by Breyten Breytenbach

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Addressed to a young writer, Intimate Stranger is an eclectic and generous work flowing with insight and wit. Breytenbach's candid and provocative reflections on reading and writing guide without guiding, open mental channels, surprise, and inspire. A stirring glimpse into the mind of an artist, Intimate Stranger is a river of experience and visions, brimming with sleights of tongue and overshifting in mood. This genre-defying gem makes manifest Einstein's assertion: "Example isn't another way to teach, it is the only way to teach.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781935744276
Publisher: Steerforth Press
Publication date: 03/22/2011
Sold by: Penguin Random House Publisher Services
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 248
File size: 240 KB

About the Author

An outspoken advocate for social justice, Breyten Breytenbach, is a poet, novelist, memorist, essayist and visual artist. His paintings, drawings, and collages have been exhibited around the world. In 1994 Breytenbach received the Alan Paton Award for Return to Paradise. He won The prestigious Hertzog Prize for Poetry for Papierblom in 1999, and again in 2008 for Die Windvanger (Windcatcher), for which he also received the University of Johannesburg Prize. Breytenbach is the author of A Season in Paradise, The True Confessions of an Albino Terrorist, All One Horse, Mouroir, Notes from the Middle World, Dog Heart, The Memory of Birds in Times of Revolution, Lady One, and Voice Over: a nomadic conversation with Mahmoud Darwish, among others.

Read an Excerpt


If I were to propose a course I’d say that the coming pages would not, properly speaking, be a discourse on poetics, but rather a few causeries around poems, approaching the edge of sanity (from whatever side) with a balance of curiosity and tactful distance, if not distaste. The less you know the more tactful and circumspect you ought to be. It would be neither the history of any particular period or tradition or mode, nor that of any given poet. The situation of the poem may be high- lighted though. For there are many places of poetry: magic, mysticism, youth, the public forum, breath, history, memory, loss . . . There’s also the place of diamond shining.Of central concern will be the function or the workings. Poem is as poem does, and I think one paradoxically learns the ‘how’ of poetry long before understanding the ‘why’. Writing is a process of creating consciousness and thus the making of a self, because awareness is expressed through a vector, however abstract. The nature or intention of that ‘self’ is of secondary concern. In so doing I’d want to look at some contradictory givens: the poem as disorderly and unlawful as ‘reality’; the poem predicated upon breaks in an attempt to encompass or imi- tate a whole; as stilled movement, or moving stillness. You see, the position of the poem may change but the problem is the same ever since breath became audible and visible incanta- tion. Poem is a capsule of space and time; it is always finished – you can no less add to it than you can detract from it – yet never completed until such time as it has been consumed (consummated) by you, Reader.

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