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This interview is taken from PN Review 135, Volume 27 Number 1, September - October 2000.

in conversation with Karen Press Vicki Bertram

VICK BERTRAM: Could you tell me how you came to start writing?

KAREN PRESS: I've always written poetry, but as far as I can remember I didn't start having work published until about the mid-1980s. I did a book of poems which I produced myself; it was sold through one or two community projects of the kind that we were involved with at that time. The collection Bird Heart Stoning the Sea; Krotoa's Story; Lines of Force was published in 1990 by Buchu Books; this was a publishing house that a group of us had set up in Cape Town. The other place that I was getting published in the eighties was the journals for new South African writing: Staffrider, and New Coin: two places where new generations of writers were getting space and editorial support outside the literary mainstream. And later, in other local journals. Almost everything in Home has been published in South Africa over the last nine years or so, in those sorts of journals. That's really my publishing history. It's very small, and it's very local.

So the leap to Carcanet Press is enormous.

Yes. It is enormous, and I don't take anything away from that. But not in a hierarchical sense, a sense that being published in Britain is more significant than being published in one's home environment. That's an attitude which you still find, of course, in South Africa, among people who think of ...


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