IN A FREE STATE
“Destined to be a landmark in South African poetry.” – J.M. Coetzee
We are nowhere in a free
state, but avid as lithium.
Never was an age of gold
In this quite extraordinary sequence of poems, P.R. Anderson discombobulates and re-assembles the image and idiom of the various nations, landscapes and earthscapes of central South Africa. From first peoples, to those who took and settled on their ancestral lands, and to those for whom that land would come ancestral, In a Free State encompasses and compresses centuries of human drama into a fleeting and temperamental poetic narrative.
Yet this is no drudge, nor is it a historical yarn. With an easy mastery of form and metre, coupled with swashbuckling metaphorical and -textual flourish, Anderson’s new “music” is a bold and visionary work. A piece of South African poetry – and South African storytelling – unlike any other.
P.R. Anderson, born in 1967, studied at the Universities of Oxford and Cape Town; he currently lectures at the latter in English Language and Literature. The recipient of the 2017 Thomas Pringle Award for Poetry and the 2003 Sanlam Literary Award, he is the author of Litany Bird (2000) as well as Foundling's Island (2007), which is re-published alongside this edition by uHlanga.