One of South Africa’s foremost contemporary poets, Antjie Krog has been described as the “Pablo Neruda of Afrikaans.” I stumbled on Antjie Krog’s work several years ago and was rewarded with the strange, passionate, tough and well-organized verses of Body Bereft (which contains, among other work, her strange and fiery Menopausal Sonnets). So, I was excited when, earlier this year, a Selected poems of Antjie Krog, Skinned, released from Seven Stories Press.
And here, then, is the transcript of an email interview I did with South African poet Antjie Krog that touches on those Menopausal Sonnets, South African Politics, Afrikaans, Indigenous Literature Translations, etc, etc:
Rauan: Many of the readers of this blog will be drawn to “Menopausal Sonnets” and other examples of frank, fiery and often crude writings about the changing (and failing) female body. In your Author’s Note you mention that “Skinned” contains “traces” of certain foreign writers, including Sharon Olds and Carolyn Forché. And it seems to me, besides, that you are naturally a fiery, direct and spicy personality. (How right and/or wrong am I?)
And can you elaborate on what, inside and outside, brought you to write such direct and sometimes graphic poems containing bits like
…you grab this death like a runt and plough its nose
right through your fleeced and drybaked cunt.
……the waist thickens and
the vagina wall thins and the colon crashes
through its own arse. how dare her toe
nails grow so riotous then…
Antjie: Poetry has taught me how to live. Everything of value I have found there. For me it therefore ought to be able to encompass one’s whole life. I am very aware what male poets have decided the Main Themes of Literature should be: Love, Death, God, Nature and War. This is fine, but it should also say menstruation, menopause and grandmother, READ MORE >