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Intimate Stranger

3.86  ·  Rating details ·  21 ratings  ·  7 reviews
“The greatest Afrikaner poet of this generation. … No one elevated the Boer language to such pure beauty and wielded it so devastatingly against the apartheid regime.”—The New Yorker

This eclectic and generous work full of wisdom and wit is addressed to a young writer. Breyten Breytenbach’s candid and provocative reflections on reading and writing guide without guiding, ope
Paperback, 248 pages
Published September 1st 2009 by Archipelago Books (first published August 28th 2009)
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3.86  · 
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Years ago, I went to a glorious exhibit of hand-bound art books at the Mexican Cultural Institute, one of my favorite obscure DC museums, and came across a book of poetry by Breyten Breytenbach whose single opened page rattled through my mind for days:

From the beginning there was the need to go father and take along what I have to offer--salts, spices, stories, muskets, maybe slaves--to barter for what I must obtain in order to continue. One travels so deeply from language to language (that is,
Mridula Koshy
Apr 17, 2010 is currently reading it
heady stuff. am reading it slowly. a little bit. then a long pause. then a little bit more. poetic and exhausting. illuminating.
Jul 17, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I’d suggest that poetry is a world (the world inside and outside us) shaped by breath. It is the breath of dreaming drawn from a hunger for awareness — the awareness that tells you that to be awake is also the result of dreaming expressed in the internal vibration of rhythm. Poetry is a love. Of what? Of the discovery and the celebration of words, things, feelings, ideas, undigested memories, insights, other people, yourself, other selves, mystery, sense, eternity, other eternities, nonsense, no ...more
Curtis Bauer
Dec 30, 2009 rated it it was amazing
open it anywhere, and it will tell you something you need to know. Seems to change like Borges'"The Book of Sand," grow, become a fixation...hence a book to carry in your pocket.
May 15, 2016 rated it liked it
I like a lot of the author's advice on writing, even though it's delivered in a confusing, maddening stream-of-consciousness style. There are gems throughout. I don't like his actual poetry, though, or at least what he chose to include in this small book, so that detracted from my enjoyment of the whole. If you can get past the style in which this is written, it's got a lot to say on the craft.
Apr 11, 2013 rated it really liked it
The best of Breytenbach's nonfiction – but not a "best of" collection, mind – this is a handsome little volume by Archipelago press. It ranges widely in pursuit of a central topic: the writer's voice speaking to his listener who herself will become a writer. A good place to pick up Breytenbach's recent thought, and much more of the moment than his older political writings.
Nicki Hennessey
Jun 26, 2012 rated it liked it
Good quick read.
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He studied fine arts at the University of Cape Town and became a committed opponent of the policy of apartheid. He left South Africa for Paris in the early 1960s. When he married a French woman of Vietnamese ancestry, he was not allowed to return: The Prohibition of Mixed Marriages Act (1949) and The Immorality Act (1950) made it a criminal offence for a white person to have any sexual relations w ...more
“The recognition and the acceptance of the Other's humanity (or humanness) is a maiming of self. You have to wound the self, cut it in strips, in order to -know- that you are as similar and of the same substance of shadows.” 1 likes
“Rhythm, repetition, making patterns--these are not only important devices for shaping the strange and abstract instrument/object we call a poem or a story, but they are craved as well because of our primordial need for reassurance, the sense of security we get from moving over the known. A mystery doesn't lose power in revisiting. Writing is not just to know, it is also to console. We need to be reminded that we are part of the obscure rhythm of birth and decade. It is the humming that matters.” 1 likes
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