Oleander explores life’s complexities, both beautiful and poisonous – love, death, art, the aftermath of war and genocide, travel, religion, revelation.
Fiona Zerbst was born in Cape Town in 1969. She has lived in Johannesburg and Cape Town and is currently based in Pretoria. She spent six months in Ukraine and Russia and has visited Argentina, Vietnam, Cambodia, Malaysia and Egypt. She works as a freelance writer and has a Masters degree from UCT.
“In Oleander, Fiona Zerbst’s lyrical voice reveals itself – not for the first time, she has long been evident as an interpreter of her private and public worlds — but yet again strongly, freshly. Her continual reinvention of the self – and self- consciousness about the frame and objects of the invention – is perhaps more fully present than in any other young contemporary poet in South Africa.”
With Oleander, her fourth collection, Zerbst further establishes the sense that the poetic is her metier. Her poetry draws on its ancient lyric roots, unafraid to sing or lament, unashamed to be poetry. Zerbst refreshes a tradition of lyric poetry without gimmicks or recourse to exercises in form; rather, she achieves this by staying true to the spirit of a tradition, thus staying true to her metier. I remain enthralled.
“The poems in this fine collection by South African poet Fiona Zerbst, are the kind of poems to be savored, then returned to over and over again, like the old friends we so enjoy visiting with.”