Windcatcher: New & Selected Poems 1964-2006 by Breyten Breytenbach, Breyten Bretytenbach |, Hardcover | Barnes & Noble
Windcatcher: New & Selected Poems 1964-2006
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Windcatcher: New & Selected Poems 1964-2006

by Breyten Breytenbach, Breyten Bretytenbach
     
 

J. M. Coetzee has described Breyten Breytenbach as "able to descend effortlessly into the Africa of the poetic unconscious and return with the rhythm and the words, the words in the rhythm, that give life." Windcatcher is a collection of Breytenbach's best work in poetry from 1964 to 2006, and includes many poems never before published. There are poems

Overview

J. M. Coetzee has described Breyten Breytenbach as "able to descend effortlessly into the Africa of the poetic unconscious and return with the rhythm and the words, the words in the rhythm, that give life." Windcatcher is a collection of Breytenbach's best work in poetry from 1964 to 2006, and includes many poems never before published. There are poems here from Paris in the sixties; poems written in prison, when Breytenbach was jailed in South Africa for seven years for his activities against the apartheid regime; poems of exile from New York in the nineties; poems from Vancouver, from Amsterdam, from Dar es-Salaam. Windcatcher is a remarkable record of a remarkable life and imagination.

it is when night is at its deepest
just before morning that the muezzin calls the faithful
for they are still asleep
and his sad cry drifts over index fingers of minarets
rooftops and lovers and flowers and docks
his sad cry dawns over city
--from "Dar es-Salaam: Harbor of Peace"

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

PRAISE FOR BREYTEN BREYTENBACH

"The greatest Afrikaner poet of his generation."--The New Yorker

"[Breytenbach] write[s] with a wild heart and an unrelenting eye, and is fueled by the sort of rage that produces great literature." --The Washington Post Book World
David Kirby
"Breytenbach has plenty to say, though hearing him is not always easy. His lines are jazzy and improvisational, as though he is trying to figure himself out on the page, and the poems themselves are skinny and underfleshed; one in this new collection is called "Poem on Toilet Paper," but they all look as though they were written that way."
—The New York Times
Library Journal

Starched eyes. Torch-blur. A luminous bed. Light that bleeds. Such are the pungent images that shape the poems in this collection by South African poet Breytenbach, whose tough, sharp-hued poetry is (dare we say) compulsive reading.


—Barbara Hoffert

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780151015320
Publisher:
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Publication date:
11/05/2007
Edition description:
First Edition
Pages:
192
Product dimensions:
5.31(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.74(d)

Related Subjects

Read an Excerpt

threat of the sick
For B. Breytenbach
 
Ladies and gentlemen,
let me introduce you to Breyten Breytenbach,
the thin man in the green sweater; he is pious
and holds and hammers his long-drawn head
to fabricate a poem for you, as for example:
 
I’m scared to close my eyes
I don’t wish to live in the dark and still see what passes
the hospitals of Paris are crammed with pale people
standing at windows to make obscene gesticulations
like the angels in the furnace
the streets are flayed and slippery with rain
 
my eyes are starched
they/you will bury me on a day as soaked as this
when sods are raw black flesh
and wetness snaps and stains leaves and jaded flowers
before light can gnaw at them a sky sweats white blood,
but I shall refuse to paint out my eyes
 
rip off my bony wings
the mouth is too intimate not to feel pain
put on boots for my funeral so I may hear
mud kissing your feetsparrows droop their shiny leaking heads blossom-black
on the green sleeves of muttering monk trees
 
plant me in a hill near a dam with snapdragons
let cunning bitter ducks crap cravings on my grave
in the rain the souls of crazed women slyly invade cats,
fears and fears and fears with drenched colorless heads
and I shall neither hold nor soothe this black tongue?.?.?.
 
But look, he is harmless. Do have mercy on him
report
 
I saw couples kissing in doorways
turning around with open mouths I walked
across bridges and heard people cough below
I saw grayheads riding in taxis
look through rain-thick windows at buildings
no longer there. snow in winter
and grapes in the summer but I
don’t remember much about it
 
I saw the midnight sun
and birds of all sizes and fish
in the water and the southern cross above a peak
and cats wearing boots and drunken women
and bare trees with blossoms.
snow in the winter
and grapes in summer but
I don’t remember much about it
 
I too heard roosters crow
and the call of trains and voices
in my bed and gods on the roof and I saw
dragons in zoos and the beards
of friends and smelled the sun.
snow in winter and grapes in summer
but I don’t remember much about it
death sets in at the feet
 
One should simply doze off
yet they say for 48 hours consciousness will
still beat at the steamed-up windows of the skull
     like a fish in a basket
     or an astronaut in his spacetub beyond control
     or a Jew under a pyramid of Jews
     or a nigger(lover) in a cell
with a prickling of pins that begins in the soles.
 
Could it be thus?
The giddiness as the floor tilts
and a membrane of water draws over trees
and a zealous hand embraces the throat more tightly?
And what a farce, this fumbling for pictures.
 
Last week’s chrysanthemums are already rotten
on their stems, the green veins perished rubber tubes,
they who were yakking parrots
are now drooping withered wings.
 
Yesterday’s white carnations stink like slumped old women.
Yesterday’s red roses have a deeper bloom
as smothered fists.
 
People usually die flat on their backs,
feet coldly erect as petrified rabbits
or blossoms on a branch,
with a prickling of pins that begins in the soles.
 
My feet are recalcitrant: I must cajole them,
swaddled in rags, because I’m not yet done,
must still learn how to die,
I must still decide how to make up my mind.
 
For now I gaze through a mirror into a riddle,
but tomorrow it will be from face to face.

Copyright © 2007, 2002, 1989, 1978 by Breyten Breytenbach
 
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, recording, or any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher.
 
Requests for permission to make copies of any part of the work should be submitted online at www.harcourt.com/contact or mailed to the following address: Permissions Department, Harcourt, Inc., 6277 Sea Harbor Drive, Orlando, Florida 32887-6777.

Meet the Author


BREYTEN BREYTENBACH was born in Bonnievale, South Africa, and currently divides his time between France, Spain, Senegal, and New York City. He teaches in the Creative Writing Department at New York University.

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