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Antjie Krog’s Poetic Capital gives Her “A Certain Kind of Power” – Anthea Garman (Podcast)

Antjie Krog and the Post-Apartheid Public SphereAnthea Garman, Associate Professor in the School of Journalism and Media Studies at Rhodes University, recently spoke to Corina van der Spoel about her book, Antjie Krog and the Post-Apartheid Public Sphere: Speaking Poetry to Power.

Garman says the first time she encountered Antjie Krog was at a workshop set up for journalists on how to cover the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. At the time she was at odds with her news editor who didn’t think that the TRC was that important, while Garman viewed it as a watershed moment in our history.

When Country of My Skull was released, Garman interviewed Krog for the Rhodes Journalism Review and was struck by Krog’s freedom to ask questions that journalists were often unable to ask. “She was posing questions with a great deal of panache and authority.”

How was she able to do this? Garman, who’d never studied Krog at school, started to read all the media coverage of Krog since she was a 17-year-old poet in Kroonstad and was astounded by her long-established, extraordinary relationship with journalism, long before she became a producer of media.

“The media attention that she’s garnered over all those years of being a poet had actually given her a certain kind of capital, a certain kind of power.”

This power enables her to say things that create discomfort. Reflecting on Krog’s keynote speech at the 2015 Sunday Times Literary Awards, Garman says: “She is brave enough to say inappropriate things.”

Another factor that motivated the study was the question of who is allowed to speak in the current race debate. “How does an Afrikaans white woman of this particular age keep on speaking and keep on speaking and keep on speaking and people keep on paying attention?”

Garman discovered that Country of My Skull is a prescribed text on the post-apartheid space in history classrooms around the world: “She speaks for us as South Africans on a world stage.”

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