This anthology of views, interviews, reviews,
articles and bibliographical reference seeks to understand and appreciate a
major phenomenon in South African literary and political life: the rise to prominence of a Black
Consciousness poetry, called the New Black Poetry of the 1970s or Soweto
as Soweto poetry in the voices of Mbuyiseni Mtshali,
Mongane Serote, Mafika Gwala and others has superseded its immediate political
context to enter into any consideration of South African literature, so the
contributions - republished here 25 years later - gain resonance in retrospect.
resonance is dependent not only on the fact that the contributions draw on the
insights of many leading literary commentators: Peter Abrahams, H I E Dhlomo,
Nat Nakasa, Es'kia Mphahlele, James Matthews, Lionel Abrahams, Douglas
Livingstone, Njabulo S Ndebele, Mbulelo Mzamane, among them. The resonance also reminds us of what editor
Michael Chapman in his Preface identifies as the inheritance of the Soweto voices:
part of a global movement towards a non-elitist poetry of ethical power.
challenge of such an aesthetic - a poetry that is both simple and profound -
lends continuing relevance to these perspectives, initially published in the
revolutionary aftermath of Soweto '76 and reprinted in this current edition.
Michael Chapman, the editor of the original Soweto Poetry in 1982, is professor of
English at the University
of KwaZulu-Natal. His
numerous publications include Southern
African Literatures (1996; 2003) and
Art Talk, Politics Talk (2006). [www.michaelchapman.co.za]