In a Language That You Know


In a Language That You Know

Len Verwey

African Poetry Book Series

72 pages


October 2017


$15.95 Add to Cart
eBook (EPUB)
Ebook purchases delivered via Leaf e-Reader

October 2017


$15.95 Add to Cart
eBook (PDF)
Ebook purchases delivered via Leaf e-Reader

October 2017


$15.95 Add to Cart

About the Book

South Africa is a complicated, contradictory, and haunted place. Len Verwey captures the trajectory of life in such a place, dealing with childhood, war, marriage, divorce, and death. He explores the challenges posed by place and history, shared identities, deep embeddedness in the continent, and the legacies of violence and exclusion, as well as beauty. 

Verwey offers poems that speak of uncertainty, ask questions, and challenge simplistic and scapegoating narratives that become so tempting when living in a society undergoing intense social and economic pressure. Dealing less with factual or political explanations of war and more with the compulsion of war, in particular, “maleness” and violence, Verwey pulls the reader into another world, opening eyes to the “crisis of men,” the violence against women, children, and the foreign in a country where conflicts are again escalating. In a Language That You Know strives to understand the complexity of one of the most unequal, violent, yet most vibrant societies in the world.


Author Bio

Len Verwey is a South African poet. He was born in Mozambique in 1973. His chapbook Otherwise Everything Goes On is included in the boxed set Seven New Generation African Poets, and his poems have been published in various journals including New Coin and New Contrast



“Contemplative and lyrical. . . . ‘When I cannot find you / I give your name to everything.’ Such poems employ the periphery as an active, sometimes disquieting space from which to imagine. Such poems disarm me into sorrow, into hope.”—Aracelis Girmay, author of The Black Maria and Kingdom Animalia

“Poems in this book plunge you, without warning, from a mattress on the floor, a village bus stop, or a fishermen’s boat into the depth of human aloneness. . . . Len Verwey writes: ‘You need to breathe / in stone, breathe out a flower.’ He accomplishes this mission in his book: breathing in history and landscape, he breathes out powerful, fervent lyricism.”—Valzhyna Mort, author of Collected Body and Factory of Tears: A Lannan Literary Selection

Table of Contents

My Mother Speaks    
Fishing Boy    
Fathers to Sons    
Bitter Boys    
El Bandito de los Nadas    
The Quarry    
Old Joke    
The Bills    
The Real Evidence    
The Stowaway    
Our Leader Speaks    
Confession of the Stable Hand    
I Flew Secretly    
An Unchained Dog for Each of You    
See Them    
A Thing of Theirs    
Ecstasy Revolver    
Mourning for Beginners    
Self-Portrait as a Father    
With the Music Teacher    
Rehearsal Notes    
In a Language That You Know    

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