This paper examines the marginalized writing career of David Manisi, a rural South African praise poet who published and performed in Xhosa between 1947 and 1988. Although Xhosa newspapers had produced an illustrious tradition of written praise poetry, by the mid-1950s Manisi found his terms of address compromised by the official discourses of apartheid and his chances of reaching an adult, educated readership greatly reduced. The paper discusses his writing in the context of the diminishing opportunities available to poets who wished to publish in African languages, and argues that Manisi continued to write books, despite his failure to reach audiences, in the hope of finding future readers. It discusses, with reference to several of Manisi's newspaper and book poems, the special adaptability of praise poetry (a performance genre) to print media. The paper shows how the poet's conception of print media changed in response to his constraining political and publishing context.


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pp. 45-64
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