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Changing direction

Anton Krueger

  1. What is your super-important function at LitNet?

    English poetry reader/editor.

  2. How long have you worked for LitNet?

    A bit over a year, I think

  3. Go ahead, tell us how qualified you are for the job ...

    Well, I've had bits of poetry published here and there and I've been part of a Pretoria-based outfit BekGeveg for a few years. We've performed at the Klein Karoo festival, in Aardklop, in Alberton and at various dives around Pretoria/Johannesburg. I've also contributed to various readings at Unisa, MGI, Up the Creek, Tequila Sunrise, the Horror Café and on Y-FM, and I've been part of performance shows (music, poetry and strange outfits) at Café Barcelona and Carfax.

    Ultimately, though, I don't know that anyone is ever really entirely qualified to judge the ultra-personal realms of other people's poetry. It's very much an immediate response as to whether a piece of poetry appeals to me or not, and unfortunately I don't always have advice on how people could or should improve their poems, though I try to respond as honestly as possible.

  4. What's the best part of the job?

    Making contact with interesting new people. It's quite something to be allowed a glimpse of a stranger's intensely private world in this way. Kind of like being an estate agent and getting a kick out of looking through strange people's bedroom cupboards.

  5. What contribution is LitNet making?

    I'm often surprised by how many people seem to know about LitNet, from aspiring melancholic poets to the disheveled bar patron who once held forth to me at great length about the great personal benefit he was gaining from the erotic story collection. Whatever the case may be, I think it's certainly established itself as one of SA's most visited cyber literature portals.

  6. Tell us about your "other life".

    My "other life" has just dramatically changed this week. I've been lecturing full-time for the English Department of Midrand Graduate Institute for the past five years, but I've now just become a full-time student again. I'll still be teaching part-time, but I'll be busying myself mostly with a PhD dissertation on new experimental theatre in SA. Hopefully this will also give me more time to get involved with other writing. I occasionally write book reviews for the Sunday Independent and I did a series of theatre reviews for Cue in Grahamstown last week. I wouldn't mind getting more into that. I'm also part of a strange group of renegades called Post Punk Productions and we try to stage a new theatre piece every year. We've performed at most local festivals and also at alternative festivals in Venezuela, Monaco and Chile. Some of my plays are on the internet and they've also been picked up by groups in Norway, England, America and Russia. So that takes up a lot of energy and it's something I'd like to do more of. Essentially we're hobbyists and rarely make any money out of these ventures, but this also gives us a certain freedom to not be constrained by commercial considerations and to do only work which we enjoy.

  7. What is it like being on the Poetry Slam/BekGeveg team? Do you still take part? And are you any good?

    It's absolutely nerve-wracking every time. We've got a great compère (Demos Takoulas) who manages to get the crowd going and draw attention away from our frayed nerves. One round involves an impromptu poem with a topic chosen by the audience. This is always a wildcard and can end up working wonderfully if you've managed to suss out the crowd. Of course it could also fail dismally. "Constantly risking absurdity", as Ferlinghetti puts it. The group's been a bit quiet this year, with not much going on, but we hope to get back into the action soon.

  8. You recently put on a play you wrote, at the Baxter in Cape Town. What was that like? We want all the details.

    It went really very well. All our reviews were great and we ended up having a full house for our last show. It was a pity we could manage only a short run. But the responses we got were really very positive. The play's called Tsafendas (original title: Living in Strange Lands).

  9. Walk us through the play - what's it about?

    It's about Verwoerd's assassin Demitri Tsafendas and it takes place in his prison cell shortly after the killing. It's essentially a one-man show and involves him exploring his life's course as he contemplates the reasons which might have led to his desperate action.

  10. How easy is it to find inspiration for new work?


  11. Which playwright do you admire most?

    There are too many: at the moment I'm reading Tom Stoppard, Chekhov, Max Frisch, Gunter Grass ... always devoted to Ionesco ... favourite SA playwright would have to be Reza de Wet.

  12. What is your favourite stage production?

    That I've seen? Recently I saw some incredible shows in Moscow and St Petersburg. Their level of dedication, innovation and sophistication is just unbelievable. In particular, there was a production called Engagement which fused Chekhov's Seagull with a modern play.

  13. In your opinion, what is the most necessary word in the English language? And the most unnecessary?

    The most necessary vocal gesture is probably not a word but more like a sigh, or a moan. The most unnecessary as well.

  14. What is your philosophy of life?

    Although I try my level best to avoid institutionalisation in all its forms, I do tend towards Buddhism as a pretty good system for elaborating a possible route to happiness. Basically trying to realise what causes suffering and then to avoid those things. And to try for happiness by trying to make the people around you happy. Reckon it's a pretty plausible theory, as theories go.

  15. If you could go back in time and change one moment, what would it be?

    Impossible to imagine, really. Any small change in the past would have spun off into probably quite drastic, and unforeseeable, changes in the present. Though it would be a nice idea to think that some things could have been changed way back ... like if Hitler had made it as a painter, or Mao, Stalin and Pol Pot had succeeded as the poets they initially wanted to be. So if I could have changed something I would have encouraged their poetry, though it's always hard to tell which of the people submitting poems are likely to go off and exterminate millions of people because I turned them down.

  16. Doing any reading at the moment? What are the top three books on Anton Krueger's reading list?

    Don't know about top three, but current bedside books include:

    Knots - RD Laing
    The End of Suffering - Parkaj Mishra
    The Adrian Mole Omnibus - Sue Townsend
    Neither here nor there - Bill Bryson
    The Grotowski Sourcebook - Richard Schechner & Lisa Wolford

    I haven't so much as opened the last of these, but I thought I'd better add it to the list to give it some weight, especially after confessing that I've just reread the Adrian Mole diaries again.

LitNet: 23 July 2004

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