Unisa Press

Intimate Lightning

Author: Dan Wylie
Published: 2018-04-19 00:00:00.0
ISBN: 978-1-86888-977-8
Number of pages: 305
Prices: R 350 | $ 24.96 | £ 20.80 | € 23.40
This book is not available in electronic format

About the book

Intimate Lightning is the first book-length study of a poet who, though still frequently anthologised, has fallen into some obscurity. Yet Sydney Clouts (1926-1981) was acknowledged by many during his lifetime as the strongest poet of his generation, albeit a difficult and elusive one. His Cape Town-inspired poetry fizzes with energy, an adventurous vivacity of image, a capacity for delight, an authentic humility, yet an authoritative sense of cerebral depth. Reading Clouts attentively is still both a poetic delight and a heady intellectual challenge.

This study is biographically-framed, but is centrally an appreciation of the poetry: “The work is the thing!” Clouts himself urged. The exploration is supported by interviews with family, friends and colleagues, but draws most importantly on archival sources: his letters, notebooks, and some 1700 pages of drafts that illuminate his methods. It unpacks his essential themes, follows up his wide and eclectic reading, explores his relation to the troubled politics of the apartheid era, and offers an explanation of the poetry’s philosophical underpinnings. Intimate Lightning finally pays proper attention to a man who devoted himself unremittingly to poetry.

“It is politically and intellectually inappropriate to publish this book”

– Anonymous reviewer

Table of content

Preface: “The Work is the thing”  

A note on referencing  

Introduction: “Fragile resilient life” 

PART ONE: LIFE AS WORK

1 . Beginnings  

2 . Juvenilia 

3 . Anxieties and influences  

4 . “The Beginning” 

5 . New soundings  

6 . An impossibly difficult move  

7 . Publishing One Life  

8 . The “Hotknife” affair  

9 . One Life, the critical reception  

10 . A dangerous country  

11 . “Grahamstown is like Paris!” 

12 . “The Violent Arcadia” 

13 . Pavements grey  

14 . “Wat die Hart van Vol Is” 

15 . Endings  

 

PART TWO: A NATURAL PLACE

16 . Part and particle  

17 . The pebble outside 

18 .   . . . and Thomas Traherne  

19 . Coastlines toughly disputing  

29 . Mountainous weather  

21 . Animal kingdoms  

22 . Long and wandering forests  

23 . Peripateia  

24 . Darken us, lighten us  

25 . Silence and song  

 

PART THREE: VIOLENCE IN ARCADIA

26 . Violence in Arcadia  

27 . Love’s assonance  

28 . Odd and strange characters  

29 . Afar in the desert  

30 . Bartholomeu Diaz and the advent of imperialism  

31 . “Juan”  

32 . The decline of the West  

33 . “Intimate Lightning”  

34 . To write like Mondrian  

35 . “Residuum”  

PART FOUR: PHILOSOPHIES OF BEING

36 . To speak like Skelm!  

 37 . The dry political gaze  

38 . Heraclitus’ fire  

39 . Jewish poet  

40 . Colonial Romantic 

41 .  . . . or Modernist?  

42 . Phenomenologist  

43 . The self in the ecosystem  

44 . Beyond metaphor  

Epilogue: “Seahorn messiah”