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Peter Blum’s ‘Kaapse Sonette’ and Giochino Belli’s Sonetti Romaneschi

From Trastevere to Table Mountain

Tony Voss    University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, South Africa    



‘Kaapse Sonette’ (Cape Sonnets) refers to the nine sonnets which Afrikaans poet Peter Blum (Trieste 1925-London 1990) published in two different books of poetry, Steembok tot Poolsee (Capricorn to Polar Sea) in 1955 and Enklaves van die Lig (Enclaves of the Light) in 1958, using Giuseppe Gioachino Belli’s Sonetti Romaneschi as inspirational source, in some cases faithfully translating from the Romanesque dialect of the original, in others  ‘only’ transposing the social background of Belli’s sonnets to depict the condition, as well as the language, of the black population in Apartheid South Africa. ‘The Kaapse Sonette’, like the Romanesque Sonnets, makes a strenuous attempt to address a monolithic, authoritarian state, a regime de facto, unable and unwilling to acknowledge the voices and identities of its own population.

Aug. 5, 2016