Photo by Y Breytenbach
Breyten Breytenbach was born on 16 September 1939 in Bonnievale. He
matriculated at the Hoërskool Hugenoot in Wellington in 1957 and studied at the
University of Cape Town.
He became a committed opponent of apartheid and left South Africa in 1960, settling in Paris in 1962 with his Viëtnamese wife Yolande Ngo Thi Hoang Lien.
When Breyten Breytenbach returned to South Africa with a false passport in 1975, he was arrested, charged under the Terrorism Act, and jailed for seven years. After his release he returned to Paris where he obtained French citizenship. (His prison memoir: The True Confessions of an Albino Terrorist )
He currently divides his time between Europe, South Africa and USA.
He joined the University of Cape Town as a visiting professor in the Graduate School of Humanities for three years (from January 2000). He is serving in the departments of English and Drama and is teaching creative writing in the first semester of each year.
He is also involved with the Gorée Institute in Dakar, Senegal and with the University of New York, where he serves in the Graduate School of Creative Writing.
Breytenbach is also known for his paintings, many of which portray surreal animal and human figures, often in captivity. He has exhibited in many countries.
Book on Breytenbach: The I of the beholder - The identity formation in the art of Breyten Breytenbach, Marilet Sienaert, Kwela Books, 2002
Breyten Breytenbach writes in Afrikaans ( most of his poems) and in English (many of his prose works).
Die ysterkoei moet sweet, 1964
Die huis van die dowe
Season in Paradise, 1976
Blomskryf - anthology, 1977
Vingermaan - anthology, 1980)
Mouroir: Mirrornotes of a Novel, 1983, tr. 1984
The True Confessions of an Albino Terrorist, 1985
Return to Paradise, 1993
Memory of Birds in Times of Revolution (essays)
Dog Heart, 1999
Lady One, Human & Rousseau, 2001
Ysterkoei-blues, Human & Rousseau, 2001
Windcatcher: New and Selected Poems, 1964-2006, Human & Rousseau, 2007
All One Horse, Archipelago Books, 2008
Die ongedanste dans: Gevangenisgedigte 1976-1983
Oorblyfsel/Voice over, Human & Rousseau, 2009 (Poems in Afrikaans with the English version on the opposite page.)
A Veil of footsteps (Memoir of a nomadic fictional character)
Human & Rousseau, 2008
Intimate Stranger, Archipelago Books, 2009
Notes from the Middle World, Haymarket Books, 2009
Oorblyfsel/Voice Over, Human & Rousseau, 2010
Die beginsel van stof, Human & Rousseau, 2011
Katalekte - artefakte vir die stadige gebruike van doodgaan, H&R, 2012
Vyf-en-veertig skemeraandsange, Human & Rousseau, 2014
Parool / Parole, Penguin South Africa, 2015
His poems on CD: Lady One: The CD, om te breyten, mondmusiek
A collection of his early poetry was published in English translation in
In Africa Even the Flies Are Happy: Selected Poems 1964-1977.