A native of South Africa, Breyten Breytenbach is a distinguished poet, painter, novelist, playwright, essayist and human rights activist. A committed opponent of apartheid in South Africa, Professor Breytenbach established the resistance group ‘Okhela’ and from 1975-1982, he was a political prisoner in South African prisons serving two terms of solitary confinement.
His most renowned non-fiction work is the four-volume cycle of his South African odyssey, A Season in Paradise (1973), The True Confessions of an Albino Terrorist (1983), Return to Paradise (1991), and Dog Heart: A Memoir (1999). Known as the finest living poet of the Afrikaans language, Professor Breytenbach’s verse volumes include The Iron Cow Must Sweat (1964) and Footscript(1976), and they feature rich visuals, a powerful use of metaphor, and a complex blending of references from Buddism, Afrikaans idiomatic speech, and recollections of the South African landscape.
Professor Breytenbach’s most recent poetry collection is Lady One. His paintings portray surreal human and animal figures, many of whom are shown in captivity. He has had solo exhibitions of his artwork in numerous cities around the world including, Johannesburg, Cape Town, Hong Kong, Amsterdam, Stockholm, Paris, Brussels and Edinburgh. Professor Breytenbach has been honored with numerous literary and art awards, including the APB Prize, CAN Award (five times), Allen Paton Award for Literature, Rapport Prize, Hertzog Prize, Reina Prinsen-Geerling Prize, Van der Hoogt Prize, Jan Campert Award and Jacobus van Looy Prize for Literature and Art. Professor Breytenbach has taught at the University of Natal, Princeton and the University of Cape Town, and he has been a visiting professor in the Graduate Program in Creative Writing at NYU since 1999.