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Anique Kruger Muses on Rustum Kozain’s Poetry Following a Reading at UCT

GroundworkAnique Kruger, an English honours student at the University of Cape Town, has written about Rustum Kozain’s poetry for SLiPNet.

Kruger describes how literature students are always told not to read texts biographically but says that she falls into this trap when reading Kozain’s work. Kozain recently visited a seminar group for third years at UCT and addressed this issue in reference to his poem “Kingdom of Rain”, which he said “didn’t actually happen”. According to Kruger, Kozain said that “the poem is simultaneously his experience and not his experience, that it becomes everyone’s experience, and, in that way, it becomes meaningful”.

There has always been a certain mystique surrounding the figure of the author or poet; especially those writers who fall under the autobiographical or confessional traditions. Readers scour their work, searching for clues about the real author, often taking every word at face value. However, any undergraduate literature student worth his salt would tell you that, virtually on the day of initiation into the English Department, students are warned against the danger of reading texts biographically – after all, you might just make yourself look silly.

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