Original Research

Living with grace on the earth: the poetic voice in Antjie Krog’s A change of tongue

A. Polatinsky
Literator | Vol 30, No 2 | a79 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/lit.v30i2.79 | © 2009 A. Polatinsky | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 16 July 2009 | Published: 16 July 2009

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A. Polatinsky, Wits Institute for Social & Economic Research, University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa

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Abstract

“A change of tongue”, Antjie Krog’s second creative non-fiction, articulates experiences of the postapartheid quotidian in two tongues: that of the journalist and that of the poet. This article examines Krog’s various instantiations of the poetic voice, and argues that the site of the body is crucial to Krog’s understanding of how languages and landscapes are translated into human experiences of belonging, alienation and self-expression. The voice that is inspired by, and best conjures these acts of somatic translation is the poetic voice, Krog suggests. The article argues that Krog endows the poetic tongue with particular capacities for synaesthetic perception and for modes of imagining that surrender many of the limitations we ascribe to other registers and grammars. Despite the profusion of challenges and setbacks expressed by the evidence-oriented journalist, the three poetic strands in the text, which are identified and explored in this article, provide a space of meditation and of refreshed language in which processes of hopeful revivification can occur.

Keywords

Body And Environment; Antjie Krog; A Change Of Tongue; Poetic Voice; Transformation

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