22. ilb 07. - 17.09.2022

Charl-Pierre Naudé

Portrait Charl-Pierre Naudé
© Hartwig Klappert

Charl-Pierre Naudé was born in 1958 in Kokstad, South Africa, and grew up in Durban and East London. Of Huguenot origin, early on during his youth, he was fascinated by the tales of African tribes that blended nature with magic. His interest in this culture also honed his awareness of the inhumane treatment bound up with the prevailing principle of segregation in society at the time. As a form of protest, he discovered a role as mediator between the worlds, with the aim of creating South African poetry that emancipates itself from the poetry of apartheid and questions the role of whites in that country from a personal perspective, while always keeping in view the political circumstances.

After studying literature and philosophy at Stellenbosch University, Naudé published the book of poems »Die nomadiese oomblik« (tr. The Nomadic Moment) in 1995. The book was honored in 1997 with the Ingrid Jonker Prize, an annual award for lyrical debuts in English or Afrikaans. This case of either/or does not apply to Naudé, as he possesses mastery of both languages in his poetry. His second collection of poems, »In die geheim van die dag« (2005), for example, was awarded the Protea Prize and appeared not only in Afrikaans, but also two years later in an English version entitled »Against the Light«. The poet has pointed out that the second edition is not a translation, but rather a permutation because every language enables a different perception of the world. Naudé’s work is inspired by poets such as Pablo Neruda and Czeslaw Milosz as well as the South African poets Breyten Breytenbach and Elisabeth Eybers. Hearkening back to classical forms, he cuts through these same forms with irony, surprising readers with new turns of phrase and unusual metaphors. At the same time, Naudé uses both characters from ancient myths and the artists from that era to address the issues of his country and his times. In an interview, he remarked on his constructed fictional dispute between the poets Catullus and Horace: »For me, they are prototypes of two poetic attitudes, both of which affected the Western lyricism that followed. Horace represented the state and order; Catullus opposed the state and strict rules. And it is precisely this problem with which South African authors are faced today. They find themselves in a situation where the choice is not as easy as it seems.« German translations of Naudé’s work were published in the anthology »Ankunft eines weiteren Tages. Zeitgenössische Lyrik aus Südafrika« (2013; tr. Arrival of another day. Contemporary poetry from South Africa). Most recently, he published his third book of poems »Al die lieflike dade« (2014; En. All those lovely acts).

Charl-Pierre Naudé lives in Johannesburg where he works as a journalist and author. He is a 2014 guest of the DAAD Artists-in-Berlin Program.