Poetry International Poetry International
Poet

Antjie Krog

Antjie Krog

Antjie Krog

(South Africa, 1952)
Biography
Antjie Krog’s work focuses on her struggle with attributes she acquired at birth: she is white and a woman. Though we are all expected to accept our own identity, one of Krog’s most important works of non-fiction is a book called Begging to be Black, and her famous menopausal sonnets lament the physical change destroying her “last juiciness”. This is characteristic of her poetry: her struggle against who she is, and the tangled topic of identity and all its axes.
This issue is one that plays an extremely important role for a politically conscious poet in South Africa; however great her international fame, she will never be divided from the country where she was born. When she wrote a poem for the six billionth citizen of the world, it turned into the “Slaapliedjes vir Ntombizana,” a lullaby for a fictional African baby (“hush hush / sleep-a-bye / sweet”), who was also warned about “bones and bullets and violence and aids.” The child receives a mission, it has to know:

that something has to become true of what we are
 
that what we are as Africans is something so soft so humanly skinned
so profoundly constitutionally big and light and kind as soul
so caring as to surpass all understanding

Krog’s poetry is political, and rhetorically crafted – yet another striking aspect of her poetry is the wealth of sounds it marshals, which she manages to convey to impressive effect at readings.
Politics, love, sex, and music are the building blocks Krog uses to construct her poetry, yet the issue of aging also shows up more and more. Another aspect of one’s identity to challenge, which for Krog means that she will keep looking for a new kind of language to express the experience of being a white South African woman. Phrased like that it might seem an individual issue, but Krog turns it into a universal one.

Antjie Krog in Dutch
Hoe alles hier verandert, Podium, Amsterdam,  2018
Waar ik jou word, Podium, Amsterdam, 2017
Medeweten, Podium, Amsterdam, 2015
Niets liever dan zwart, Contact, Amsterdam, 2010
Hoe zeg je dat, Podium, Amsterdam, 2009
Waar ik jou word, Poetry International, Rotterdam, 2009
Ik spreek en verhef uw hart. Kosmopolitisme, vergiffenis en het voorbeeld van Afrika, Volkskrant Boekenfonds, Amsterdam, 2006
Lijfkreet, Podium, Amsterdam, 2006
Nederlands buitengaats; een taalreünie, Stichting Koninklijk Paleis, Amsterdam, 2006
Wat de sterren zeggen, Podium, Amsterdam 2004
Een andere tongval, Contact, Amsterdam, 2004
Liederen van de blauwkraanvogel. Xam-gedichten, Podium, Amsterdam, 2003
Relaas van een moord, Podium, Amsterdam, 2003
Kleur komt nooit alleen, Podium, Amsterdam, 2002
De kleur van je hart, Mets en Schilt, Amsterdam, 2000
© Toef Jaeger (Translated by Florian Duijsens)
Sponsors
Gemeente Rotterdam
Nederlands Letterenfonds
Stichting Van Beuningen Peterich-fonds
Ludo Pieters Gastschrijver Fonds
Hendrik Muller fonds
Lira fonds
J.E. Jurriaanse
Literature Translation Institute of Korea
Partners
LantarenVenster – Verhalenhuis Belvédère