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Love is as universal as it is private, and it makes asses and royals of us all. When it strikes (blindly) most of us are left exalted and appalled. We buy roses sweating in cellophane or tickets to a sport we don't even understand. Or we pass the days in a kind of idle shock. Deep inside us something or someone is singing opera, but we're tongue-tied. With not a poetic bone in our body (for which we daily give thanks) all of a sudden we're full of the stuff, but clueless to give it utterance. So we turn to the poets, in a tradition of gratitude as old as poetry itself. It's strange to discover South Africa as a country full of lovers. And wonderful. After decades of notoriety, enmity and base inhumanity, it's especially good to find that under our infamous skin the heart has forever undergone the more everyday torments and ecstasies of romantic love - for one another. These poems are full of the follies, triumphs and losses of South Africans in love. They are also full of South Africa - its police vans and bluegum trees, its backyards and its bedrooms. And its poets - whether vice-chancellors, jazz musicians, prisoners, hunters, housewives, teens, soldiers, old favourites or new voices. Here is a new way to visit the heart of South Africa. Many will celebrate the common humanity on offer in these pages. Others will find in them the perfect wedding present, Valentine's Day gift - or a salve for wounds. All will admire the poetry.
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