Poet activist performs at JAM

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Jonty Driver will read his poem Requiem as part of the JAM festival

Jonty Driver, anti apartheid campaigner, political prisoner, educationist and writer will read his 1997/98 poem’ Requiem’ at a free event as part of the JAM festival on July 11. The poem will be accompanied by excerpts from Bach’s Cello Suite No. 1, transcribed for the violin and played by Peter Fields.

Driver now lives in Northiam, but was born in Cape Town and was president of the National Union of South African Students in 1963 and 1964. In 1964 he was detained without trial and kept in solitary confinement, suspected of involvement in the African Resistance Movement. When he was released, he went to study at Oxford and while there the South African state refused to renew his passport, leaving him stateless for five years.

After becoming a British citizen, Driver later became Headmaster of leading public school, Wellington College. ‘Requiem’ has been created as an arch, in seven sections. The first and last are set in Wellington College; the second and sixth are love poems, three and five are elegies and the fourth section is set along the East Sussex border path. The poem starts in early morning, in midwinter and proceeds through to late night, mid-summer. It spans England, South Africa and back to England again.

Copies of the poem will be distributed at the reading so that people can follow the text. The event takes place at St Mary the Virgin in St Mary in the Marsh, New Romney at 4pm. More details are available here.