By highlighting and teasing out the mingled emotions of anxiety, disenchantment, hope and anger which characterise South Africans’ current experienced reality, Sole’s poetry questions and expands on our concerns about identity and belonging. Skin Rafts is his eighth collection.
By highlighting and teasing out the mingled emotions of anxiety, disenchantment, hope and anger which characterise South Africans’ current experienced reality, Sole’s poetry questions and expands on our concerns about identity and belonging. In so doing, the poems in Skin Rafts contemplate the relationships that exist between us on a number of seemingly discrete, but actually intertwined, fronts – the personal relationship between lovers; the wider social and political relationships between human beings; as well as the problematic and contested human relationships that are brought to bear on land, landscape and the non-human. In this collection the reader is confronted with the circumstance that both body and society exist in a fragile dimension of uncertainty, where we all are ‘bobbing / on our raft of skin’.
Kelwyn Sole was born in Johannesburg and was educated there and in London. After working in Botswana as a schoolteacher, Namibia as an educationist and Johannesburg for an anti-apartheid NGO, he spent thirty years teaching at the University of Cape Town, retiring as De Beers Professor of Literature in 2016. Sole’s first collection, The Blood of Our Silence (Ravan,1987) won the Olive Schreiner Prize, while his seventh, Walking, Falling (Deep South, 2017) won the South African Literary Award (SALA) for Poetry. He has been widely anthologised. Skin Rafts is his eighth collection of poetry.
“A courageous collection of poems that comes from a solid, serious and deeply sensitive vision.” – Stephen Clingman, Distinguished Professor of English, University of Massachussets, Amherst.
“Sole’s poetry constitutes “a body of work that has constantly questioned, fretted about, celebrated, eulogised, discovered, re-discovered, and charted, among many other things, a South Africanness in all its contradictions, solidarities, tragedies, absurdities and sometime normalities. ……… Sole has a clearly ravenous curiosity and a catholic eye that refuses to compartmentalise the world. Some of his poems can teem with a novelistic life—characters, linguistic registers, a detailed environment, the sounds of a city in the background—that makes a mockery of any easy categorisation into, say, political or love poems. A ‘political’ poem is never only, narrowly, one-dimensionally, about politics—they are never screeds, in other words.” – Rustum Kozain in Johannesburg Review of Books.