Sydney Clouts’s poetry: Looking inwards, looking outwards
Keywords:Sydney Clouts, Dan Wylie, sensory perception, human interaction, South African poetry in the 1960s
Intimate Lightning, by Dan Wylie, presents a detailed account and evaluation of Sydney Clouts’s poetry as phenomenologically driven: a poetry that invites readers to look inwards to the “speck and the fleck” of things in the natural world. At the same time, Wylie posits that Clouts is the finest poet of his generation in South Africa of the 1960s. In this article, I acknowledge Wylie’s engagement with the poetry while I question whether the somewhat relentless focus inwards is not too neglectful of those poems in which Clouts looks outwards to human interaction in the world. Such poems of abbreviated narrative, some of which I analyse in the course of my argument, suggest that looking outwards is necessary, at least, to consider Wylie’s claim that Clouts’s poetry is yet to receive its wider and just recognition. Given that Wylie offers little, if any, substantiation of Clouts’s standing as a poet among his peers, I move to a ‘summary’ perspective on Clouts in relation to what, I contend, is a rich and various poetry scene in 1960s South Africa. This leads me to the conclusion that the question of whether Clouts is the finest poet of his generation is not perhaps the question best pursued in Intimate Lightning. Where Wylie’s study succeeds is in reminding us that Clouts is a poet quite unlike any other we will encounter.
Achebe, Chinua. Hopes and Impediments: Selected Essays 1965–87. Heinemann, 1988.
Barbaras, Renaud. The Being of the Phenomenon: Merlieu-Ponty’s Ontology, translated by T. Toadvine & L. Lawlor. Indiana U P, 2004.
Bloom, Harold. The Anxiety of Influence. Oxford U P, 1973.
Butler, Guy. “On Sydney Clouts.” English in Africa, vol. 11, no. 2, 1984, pp. 81–107.
Chapman, Michael. South African English Poetry: A Modern Perspective. Ad Donker, 1984.
Clouts, Margery. “Letter to Guy Butler.” 12 March 1994. 2007, 17. 2. 42. National English Literary Museum, Grahamstown.
Clouts, Sydney. “A country whose mediocrity …” n. d. 18.104.22.168. National English Literary Museum, Grahamstown.
Clouts, Sydney. “BBC broadcast.” Collected Poems. David Philip, 1984, pp. 141–3.
Clouts, Sydney. Collected Poems, edited by M. Clouts & C. Clouts. David Philip, 1984.
Clouts, Sydney. “Letter to Ruth Harnett.” 29 June 1966. 2008, 48.1.1,1,2,3. National English Literary Museum, Grahamstown.
Clouts, Sydney. “Notes for poetry.” English in Africa vol. 11, no. 2, 1984, p. 37.
Clouts, Sydney. One Life. Parnell & Sons, 1966.
Clouts, Sydney. “Sydney Clouts speaking about his poetry, 1 & 2.” English in Africa vol. 11, no. 2, 1984, pp. 7–24.
Eliot, T. S. “Tradition and the individual talent.” English Critical Texts, edited by D. J. Enright & E. De Chickera. Oxford U P, 1962, pp. 293–301.
Glenn, Ian. “Sydney Clouts: Our Pen-insular Poet.” English Academy Review vol. 3, no. 1, 1985, pp. 127–34. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/10131758585310101.
Harnett, Ruth. “Some poems by Sydney Clouts.” English in Africa vol. 11, no. 2, 1984, pp. 108–61.
Joubert, Susan. “The unresolved shibboleth: Sydney Clouts and the problems of an African poetry.” Theoria vol. 75, 1990, pp. 87–106.
Livingstone, Douglas. “Casanova in modern dress.” Frontline Books: The South African Review of Literature, no. 3, 1983, pp. 9–11.
Watson, Stephen. “Sydney Clouts and the limits of romanticism.” World Literature Written in English vol. 28, no. 2, 1998, pp. 210–32. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/17449858808589060.
Wylie, Dan. Intimate Lightning. Sydney Clouts: Poet. Unisa, 2018.
How to Cite
Copyright (c) 2021 Tydskrif vir Letterkunde
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.