Michael Chapman


Douglas Livingstone is rightly regarded by many critics as the leading poet now writing in South Africa. Yet, South Africa has been slow to recognize his poetic talent. (The first critical study of his work, Douglas Livingstone: A Critical Study of his Poetry, was published by Ad. Donker, Johannesburg, in 1981.) In spite of his being honoured with a D. Litt: from the University of Natal (Durban) in 1982, his poetry has been more favourably received in England and America than in his own country. He has won international awards from the British Society of Authors and at the Cheltenham Festival, yet in South Africa his only poetry prize has been in a competition which he entered anonymously. His latest collection, The Anvil's Undertone (Johannesburg: Ad. Donker, 1978), has been well received abroad: the London Magazine, comment· ing on Livingstone's 'powerful evocation of a doomed South African dreamland', concludes that there is 'no better poet writing on this continent in any language'.' But this collection, which (to quote Richard Rive) 'must appeal to any serious student of South African literature', 2 was almost totally ignored by reviewers in South African literary magazines.



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