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How Antjie Krog Uses Literary Tropes to Speak Poetry to Power – Anthea Garman

Antjie Krog and the Post-Apartheid Public SphereAnthea Garman’s recently released book, Antjie Krog and the Post-Apartheid Public Sphere: Speaking Poetry to Power, explores the significant role that Antjie Krog has played in the post-apartheid public sphere.

The associate professor in the School of Journalism and Media Studies at Rhodes University obtained her PhD on “Antjie Krog: Self and Society, the Making and Mediation of a Public Intellectual in South Africa” from Wits University in 2009. She did research on Krog’s currency as a writer of testimony, witness and public intellectual.

Garman has shared an essay entitled “Antjie Krog, the ‘African’, Afrikaans, South African Citizen and Intellectual” on her page. The article can be found in African Intellectuals and Decolonization, a collection of essays edited by Nicholas M Creary.

Read the article, in which Garman explains how Krog uses her stance as a literary figure to address social ills:

The study of Krog’s position as a public figure in post-apartheid South Africa shows very clearly that she does not enter the public domain as a Saidian-type intellectual “speaking truth to power” or as an African drawing on rational-critical debate to make an argument, or even from the base of national democratic struggle speaking on behalf of the majority. Krog’s style of operation is to use the literary and its formulations of public address, and the licence literary styles and devices provide, and to bend this to her particular purposes. She continues the TRC work she did as a journalist through her poetry, curations, collections, translations and other writings. She ventures into the performance of Saidian public intellectualism only occasionally via the opinion and comment pages in newspapers. Unlike commentators like Xolela Mangcu, who boldly self-describes as a “public intellectual” and an “African”, she never does so. Her firm location in the literary – coupled to her reach way beyond the literary field – gives Krog the freedom to continue to use literary tropes and techniques to perform in public the responsibilities of new South African citizenship in relation to the majority – still functionally dispossessed. She uses the autobiographic and the personal to deftly craft a public persona for herself which shows itself to be responsive to national concerns of damage and discrimination, access to voice and the crafting of a democracy that gives rights and benefits to the majority of South Africans.

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