Danie Marais was born in Kimberley in 1971, went to school in Pretoria and studied at the University of Stellenbosch. He went on to study German, mathematics and philosophy in Oldenburg, Germany. For quite some time he lived in Germany, where he taught at an elementary school. He is the editor of PoësieNet (the poetry section of LitNet) and regularly writes a column on rock in the South African magazine Beeld, writes book reviews for Rapport and translated the first comic strip of his wife, Karlien de Villiers, entitled Meine Mutter war eine schöne Frau (My Mother Was a Beautiful Woman) in German. His poems were included in Nuwe stemme 3 (New Voices 3 – Antjie Krog and Alfred Schaffer, eds), Honderd jaar later (A Hundred Years Later – edited by Johann Lodewyk Marais) and My ousie is ’n blom (My Girl Is a Flower), edited by Charl-Pierre Naudé, who was a guest at Poetry in 2000). In 2005 Marais was nominated for the DaimlerChrysler poetry award. His debut, In die buitenste ruimte, (In the Outermost Space) appeared in 2006.
Marais writes long poems, often in parlando style. Because of his long stay outside South Africa, his poetry is refreshingly cosmopolitan. But Marais remains a South African, reflecting on his country as follows: ‘For white South Africans, however, the burning house of their fathers is contaminated with a past a progressive person is not supposed to feel nostalgic about. When you are confronted with the records of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission outside the white community in which you grew up, it seems inconceivable or rather perverse, that your personal experiences of beauty and innocence could take place in such a pace and time. It feels wrong to want to yearn back to something like it, especially so when you consider the shameless idealisation of the ‘good old days’ by many a white compatriot. From a politically conscious angle every picnic in those days, every romance and every cherished memory appears a product of reckless white apathy.’
Danie Marais took part in the Poetry International Festival Rotterdam 2007.
This text was written on that occasion.
In die buitenste ruimte (In the Outermost Space), 2006