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reading and conversation with Breyten Breytenbach
at Lillian Vernon Writing Center, NYU
After Kapuscinsk: The Art of Reportage in the 21st Century
at 11th Street Bar in Alphabet City
Addressed to a young writer, Intimate Stranger is an eclectic and generous work flowing with insight and wit. Breytenbach's candid and provocative reflections on reading and writing guide without guiding, open mental channels, surprise, and inspire. A stirring glimpse into the mind of an artist, Intimate Stranger is a river of experience and visions, brimming with sleights of tongue and overshifting in mood. This genre-defying gem makes manifest Einstein's assertion: "Example isn't another way to teach, it is the only way to teach."
In this inspiring, insightful and heart-warming meditation, Breyten Breytenbach has given us a masterpiece—a term I use with all due caution. He invites the reader into the process of poetry from vision to practice with a deep abiding humanity, genuine wisdom and compassionate good will spiced with humor. As unpretentious as a comfortable old shirt, this is a book to be read and reread, to be cherished by anyone who values the enlightenment found in great poetry of all kinds."
As a writer, Breytenbach has the gift of being able to descend effortlessly into the Africa of the poetic unconscious and return with the rhythm and the words, the words in the rhythm, that give life."
—J.M. Coetzee, The New York Review of Books
The greatest Afrikaner poet of this generation. . . . No one elevated the Boer language to such pure beauty and wielded it so devastatingly against the apartheid regime as Breyten Breytenbach."
—The New Yorker