ISBN 9781990992261
Pages 82
Dimensions 210 x 140mm
Published 2021
Publisher Dryad Press, South Africa
Format Paperback


poems based on the classics that speak to the present

by Chris Mann

Like a modern Orpheus, Chris Mann explores the underworld of the past and returns with peculiarly African poetry, based on the classics that deepens our understanding of the present. In this collection, youthful Narcissus gazes into a mobile phone, wandering Odysseus sails the seas of the Internet, and picknickers beside a river's pool in South Africa encounter the shades. The satirical poets of ancient Rome mock a strangely familiar hunger for sex and power among politicians, dispossessed Britons revolt against the empire, Vandals ruthlessly plunder wealth and land, and tech-savvy Phoenicians colonise the coast of a pastoral Africa. Rising seas engulf the lost city of Atlantis, and a terrible plague devastates the Athens of Socrates, Pericles, and the Parthenon. Palimpsests speaks to the interplay of different cultures and how the past is interwoven in the fabric of the present. It is a fresh, new offering enabling lovers of the classics to experience this world in a unique, modern and African way.

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"Chris Mann's poetry is a feast of verse, a rare dance of words. It is pungent, brave and beautiful with a plethora of influences and impulses from mythology to history, archaeology, architecture, holy books, memory and personal experience. What a delicious mixture Mann offers to the world!"

Professor Mogomme A. Masoga, Dean of the Faculty of Arts, University of Zululand

"Chris Mann's poems, using a variety of metres and verse forms, and many moods and tones, bring Greek and Latin classics to life with verve and subtlety. This collection features an enormous range, a considerable accuracy of detail, but also an immediacy that makes each line ring true. Altogether, Palimpsests is a memorable collection that will make a significant impact."

John Hilton, Professor of Classics, University of KwaZulu-Natal

About the Author

Chris Mann

Chris Mann was Emeritus Professor of Poetry at Rhodes University. Before his move to Rhodes, he worked in rural education and development for over a decade, primarily as a director of the Valley Trust outside Durban. He founded Wordfest South Africa at Rhodes University and his published work includes fifteen poetry collections and several verse plays. He is the recipient of an English Academy Gold Medal (2019), the Patricia Schonstein Poetry in McGregor Prize (2019), a Standard Bank National Arts Festival Ovation Award for his play, The Ballad of Dirk de Bruin (2014), the Thomas Pringle Award for Poetry (2007), the Olive Schreiner Award for South African Poetry (1983) and, while a Rhodes scholar at Oxford University, the Sir Roger Newdigate Prize (1973). Dryad Press mourns his passing in 2021.