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Jeni Couzyn Biography

(1942– ), Flying, Christmas in Africa, A Time to be Born, Life by Drowning: Selected Poems

africa poetry born poems

Canadian poet, born in South Africa, educated at the University of Natal. In 1966 she emigrated to Britain and established herself as a freelance writer. She became a Canadian citizen in 1975 and was appointed writer-in-residence at the University of Victoria, British Columbia, in 1976. Flying, her first collection of poetry, was published in 1970; subsequent volumes include Christmas in Africa (1975), A Time to be Born (1981), Life by Drowning: Selected Poems (1985), and That's It (1993). Couzyn's poetry repeatedly engages the social, political, and imaginative implications of womanhood. Her desire for a poetry of broad social accessibility and her conception of the art as pre-eminently oral are reflected in the clarity and immediacy of much of her writing. Many of her most richly textured poems deal with her childhood in Africa. As an editor, she has produced two widely read anthologies of writing by women poets, The Bloodaxe Book of Contemporary Women Poets (1985) and Singing Down the Bones (1989).

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almost 2 years ago

Studied your poem Christmas in Africa as an adult for A level studies. As I have family in Jo'burg and Durban it meant so much to me, visiting SA now , closest I get to my youth in Uganda and Kenya, thank you for bringing Africa alive to me in a drab cold English climate.

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almost 2 years ago

Are you the Jeni Couzyn I taught with in Salisbury?
If so would love to hear from you

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over 3 years ago

Do you remember me? The medical student you met on the train in 1966 and in Dun Laoghaire thereafter? If you would like, I'd love to contact you as I love your poetry and that of Anne Michaels.

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about 4 years ago

Dear Jeni,
I'm writing from Vancouver BC. Every so often I try to find those who knew Eva, without any luck so far. Are you in Canada or in UK? Might we correspond? I am just now going over Lionel's wonderful memoir of Eva, in which he mentions you.
Would you be willing to have a conversation with me about Eva?



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over 6 years ago

Dear Jeni,

Your poems in Life by Drowning have been a significant part of our family of girls growing up in SA during the apartheid era and when we found yours we felt an echo especially to Christmas in Africa. We also went to the place of snakes and surging sea where conversations took people away. More recently my sister gave me your book and it inspires me once again to be connected to the journey that took forever down to the sea. I too have emmigrated, studied Fine Art here in the UK and have an opportunity to paint a body of work inspired by a text. Would you mind if I used your poems as inspiration to do so?