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Breyten Breytenbach

Breyten Breytenbach tijdens 10 jaar Hivos Cultuurfonds - foto Ed Lonnee
Breyten Breytenbach tijdens 10 jaar Hivos Cultuurfonds - foto Ed Lonnee

(1939, Bonnievale) is a South-African writer and painter with French citizenship. He studied at the University of Cape Town. He became a committed opponent of apartheid and left South Africa for Paris in the early 1960s. On returning to South Africa in 1975 he was arrested and sentenced to nine years of imprisonment. In his work The True Confessions of an Albino Terrorist he describes aspects of his imprisonment. After his release in 1982 he returned to Paris. Breytenbach wrote poetry, novels, essays and plays. His poems are rich in metaphores and are a complex mixture of references to Buddhism, Afrikaans idiomatic speech, and memories of the South African landscape. Breytenbach is also known as a painter. Many of his paintings portray surreal human and animal figures, often shown in captivity. He has been honored with numerous literary and art awards. Breytenbach is active in different organizations for South-African political exiles.

(WIN 2005)

Archive available for: Breyten Breytenbach

  • Winternachten 2006

    VPRO O.V.T. - live from Winternachten

    With: Breyten Breytenbach, Frank Martinus Arion, Mathijs Deen, Merietza Haakmat en Hershel Rosario, Paul van der Gaag

    The final sounds of Winternachten 2006 come from cafe brasserie Dudok on sunday morning, during a live broadcast of O.V.T., the historical VPRO radio programme. This edition focusses on literature. One of the literary subjects is the history of the Netherlands and the anti apartheid struggle. With the presence of the South African poet Breyten Breytenbach. The writer from Curaçao Frank Martinus Arion talks about his new historical novel De deserteurs (The deserters) and about Uncle Tom's cabin , the novel that initiated the movement to abolish slavery in the United States. Accompanied by guitarist Hershel Rosario, Marietza Haakmat will sing Antillean songs. Dutch spoken.

  • Winternachten 2006

    I capitulate - a debate about threats, solidarity and self-censorship in art and journalism

    With: Afshin Ellian, Bas Heijne, Breyten Breytenbach, Maxim Februari, Michaël Zeeman, Sybrand van Haersma Buma

    Freedom of speech is under pressure in the Netherlands. Almost every artist or journalist who has appeared in the news as a result of receiving threats, has capitulated. From theatre director Johan Doesburg (Fassbinder's The dirt, the city and death) to Hasna el Maroudi (columnist for the newspaper NRC Handelsblad, 2005).

    Each time two aspects came under threat: the person in question, who as a result sought shelter, and the freedom of speech, which after a wave of public indignation is abandoned until the next incident. Afshin Ellian, lawyer, poet and columnist of NRC Handelsblad, opens the program with an introductory essay. Followed by a debate with Sybrand van Haersma Buma (spokesman for the ministry of justice of the Christian democratic party, lower chamber), Bas Heijne (writer) and Marjolijn Februari (philosopher, lawyer and writer). The situation in the Netherlands is given an international perspective by the presence of South African poet and former anti-apartheid activist Breyten Breytenbach. Joesoef Isak, publisher, journalist and champion of the free word in Indonesia, was announced to take part in this discussion, but he had to cancel. Because of ill health he cannot make the trip to the Netherlands. Michaël Zeeman chairs the debate.
    Dutch spoken

  • Winternachten 2006 – WINTERNACHT 2

    In memoriam Henk van Woerden

    In November of last year the painter, writer and non-conformist thinker Henk van Woerden suddenly died. As a contrary thinker he was involved in Winternachten for years, both as artistic advisor and as Winternachten foundation boardmember. In a special programme we'll remember him together with his publisher Joost Nijsen, Nicole van Woerden-Müller, and writers and musicians. South African poet and writer Breyten Breytenbach will talk about Van Woerden as a painter and photographer. There will be readings from his novels Tikoes, Moenie Kyk Nie, Een mond vol glas, the collection Notities van een luchtfietser and his last novel, Ultramarijn. Van Woerden was a great lover of Greek music. He played the bouzouki in a Greek ensemble, which will perform tonight under the name To Trigono. Dutch/English spoken.

  • Winternachten 2006 – WINTERNACHT 1

    In search of the independent mind - part 3

    The evening closes with a discussion between all the participants of the search. Perhaps from this they can come to some conclusions as to how independent thinking can be protected. And last but not least Samuel Beckett's vision on human thinking: actor Paul Röttger plays Lucky's monologue from Samuel Beckett's play Waiting for Godot. Michaël Zeeman chairs the discussion. Dutch spoken.

  • Winternachten 2006 – WINTERNACHT 1

    In search of the independent mind - part 1

    Do they still exist, the independent thinkers, the non-conformists? Are they still given some elbow-room in our shrinking world? The South African writer Breyten Breytenbach provides us with a manual of do's and don'ts to help us preserve our independent mind. Together with the writers Herman Franke and Marja Brouwers he goes in search of our present day heroes of the mind. Michaël Zeeman chairs this search. Dutch spoken.

  • Winternachten 2001

    Live Anthology and Debate

    With: Anna Enquist, Ardashir Vakil, Bas Heijne, Basil Appollis, Breyten Breytenbach, Ellen Ombre, Henk van Woerden, Ian Buruma, Jan Eijkelboom, Jit Narain, Lasana M. Sekou, Michaël Zeeman, Rajeev Balasubramanyam, Vamba Sherif

    What is the most beautiful poem on diaspora? A number of Winternachten guests read their favourite poem from each other's literatures. The writers were introduced by Basil Appollis.
    Dutch writer Henk van Woerden gave the introductory lecture (in Dutch) to a debate on the theme of 'diaspora and the writer'. This debate (in English), hosted by Michaël Zeeman, appeared to be a good start for the Boekenweek, a annual event for the promotion of Dutch literature, following a few weeks later in The Netherlands.

  • Winternachten 2001 – Winternacht 1

    Literature assimilating the past

    Shortly before the festival Jan Eijkelboom's book Het Krijgsbedrijf was published, about the Dutch military campaigns during the Indonesian war of independence. Ian Buruma and Breyten Breytenbach discussed the theme from a Japanese and South African perspective. The discussion was led by Michaël Zeeman. In this programme there was also a screening of a Dutch television programme in which writer Adriaan van Dis and South African poet Antjie Krog were interviewed about the way the South Africans deal with the Apartheid era. Furthermore, this theme was elaborated on in the film Long Night's Journey into Day, showing interrogations in the Truth and Reconciliation Committee. (Dutch and Afrikaans spoken).

  • Winternachten 2001 – Winternacht 1

    Poetic Worlds

    Shortly before the festival two works were published in the Netherlands with a poetic overview of the work of Cees Nooteboom and Breyten Breytenbach. In Lady One, 99 love poems, Breytenbachs most beautiful love poems were collected. Bitterzoet is a choice of 45 years of poetry by Cees Nooteboom, in addition to some new poems. Daan Cartens led the discussion with both poets (Dutch spoken).

  • Winternachten 1999

    Live Anthology

    With: Arahmaiani, Aya Zikken, Breyten Breytenbach, Dan Jacobson, Denis Henriquez, Frank Martinus Arion, Gerrit Komrij, Henk van Woerden, Jit Narain, Michiel van Kempen, Pim de la Parra, Rendra, Rudy Kousbroek, Soli Philander

    The final programme in this festival was a 'live anthology', composed by writers reading their favourite poems and prose-fragments from the literatures of each other's cultures. In this way a colourful anthology was created from Surinamese, Indonesian, Antillian, Dutch and South-African literature.

  • Winternachten 1999 – Winternacht 1

    Breyten Breytenbach meets Aad Nuis

    Breyten Breytenbach is not a poet for politically correct events. As he writes, he has 'the worng age, colour and gender. I have uneasy political views, with which I cannot satisfy the Dutch need for a moral orgasm. " One of the greatest poets from South-Africa read from his work and talked to Aad Nuis on his latest novel 'Dog's Heart' and on his vision of his country.