Rustum Kozain


Country: South Africa


http://rustumkozain.bookslive.co.za/about/

Biography:

Rustum Kozain was born in 1966 in Paarl, South Africa. Studied for several years at the University of Cape Town; spent ten months (1994-1995) in the United States of America on a Fulbright Scholarship. Returned to South Africa and lectured in the Department of English at UCT from 1998 to 2004, teaching in the fields of literature, film, and popular culture.
Poetry published in local and international journals; debut volume, This Carting Life, published in 2005 (Kwela/Snailpress). Awarded the Ingrid Jonker Poetry Prize.

Related Podcasts & Events:

Cape Town, Jerusalem

Being on the inside is a privilege that is an affliction …Because our interior is always … occupied and interrupted by others …we have developed a technique of speaking through the given, expressing things obliquely and … so mysteriously as to puzzle even ourselves. – Edward W. Said, After the Last Sky


Often now I turn away from things,
from jubilance save that
which from a quiet word
may grant my moment’s wealth:
a home town’s olive orchard
that shivers in dusklight, the pit-pat
as fruit fall free to the ground;
or the homeless manic’s quiet rage at grace
when a shop owner hands him coffee.
Most of all, I walk
so I may reach home and try to know
myself, so I may turn to work.

And turn more from the racial rage
I need still in myself, as I turn
from the stone’s articulate act
and seek the sentence long enough
to house my tribe, even as I know
of neither’s existence. These are
rages which won’t still, which need
thought. But thought fans flames.
And action in killing them
kills the word. Yet
in my silence there is
this rage, still this rage.

So I turn away from things
and read, dip into books;
wait thus for reports
from my race, choose not
speech. But sit in my silence
which broods to myself
myself. A self at least. And wait,
more thinking not of exile from –
whether inside or out –
but exile through; how inside
the very head the tongue
is exiled through itself:
the tongue its own exile.

And I turn more away from things,
preferring solitude and work
to tongue at stories
from their silent insides: like an orphan
who in a new house senses an old taste
and quietly mulls thus a morsel
that brings memory darting
like a wasp in the head,
then withdraws his tongue
from probing. Back to the mute bed,
the civilising cradle of the jaw.

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