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Walking, Falling is Kelwyn Sole’s seventh collection of poetry. It extends and deepens themes that emerged in his earlier books: love and human relationships; the exposing of false and cliched perspectives in our socio-political life; our relationship as South Africans to land and landscape. Rustum Kozain has written about his work: “Whether the theme is the end of a relationship or the murder of immigrants, there is the calm look of analysis, a voice, like a conscience, that threatens to disturb the reader’s complacency, but a voice simultaneously gentle with empathy and sincerity.”
In poems charged with a sense of history and the present moment, the author urges our capacity to think and to feel and to act. Love that is night reminds us of the difficulties of engaging in meaningful activity based on insight: it is not for those 'who congratulate/ the horizons/ of their own truths'. In a range of styles and voices, these poems, sometimes angular and experimantal, sometimes breathtakingly lyrical, challenge and illumine our sense of what it is to be in South Africa now.
Kelwyn Sole has made his mark in South Africa as a poet whose unrelenting protest against complacency is matched by a constant exploration of form. In Mirror and Water Gazing he widens these poetic concerns. There are poems here which contemplate betrayal, baffled encounters, and deluded love. Some are poems of vulnerability and doubt, searching for adequate ways to mirror selves in language. Sole is an acute listener, and in found poems and angry satires he documents South Africans' current obsession with greed, consumerism and display. Mirror and Water Gazing is the mature work of a poet whose poems invariably urge us to become more awake.
Kelwyn Sole's brilliant new collection is a volume of landscapes, voices and dreams, and a roving, meditative self. With a perfect ear and eye he captures an extraordinary array of scenarios, characters and places, where land, sea and sky are also an abiding presence. His modes shift from the filmic to the interior monologue, his tones from the wickedly satirical to the poignant, the raucously contentious to the intimate. In Sole's hands the prose poem becomes the perfect form. Full of arresting lines and images, its constellations create something that reads almost like a novel. It taps beneath the surface of South Africa. - Stephen Clingman, winner of the Sunday Times Alan Paton Award 1999 for Bram Fischer: Afrikaner Revolutionary
Absent Tongues is Kelwyn Sole's sixth collection of poetry; a collection that speaks of tenderness, anger, ambivalence and fear. This is territory Kelwyn has long made his own - hymnal vignettes that thread the landscape of South Africa with patterns of myth and people, with pasts, presents, and, at times, with futures. We come away from these poems with something akin to nostalgia, something like a yearning to belong in the most fundamental sense - to be water, air, bone, sky. Kelwyn Sole writes with grace, acuity and with thoughtful philosophical purpose, affirming his position in the forefront of contemporary South African poetry.
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