John Mateer - Unbelievers, or 'The Moor'


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John Mateer - Unbelievers, or 'The Moor'

Paperback, 168pp. 9x6ins  Not for sale in Australia or New Zealand.

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World Literature Today has described John Mateer as "the most recent reincarnation of of the international poet". Born in South Africa, John Mateer has for the past two decades been documenting the world seen from the Indian Ocean edge of Australia, travelling frequently to Asia, Europe and elsewhere. Unbelievers, or 'The Moor', like his previous surveys of the visages of the Portuguese Empire in Southern Barbarians and of his memories of South Africa in Ex-White — described by novelist J.M. Coetzee as "rolling back the tide of forgetting" — recovers aspects of the hidden past that haunt our present. In Unbelievers, Mateer seeks out evidence of the importance of the Islamic and Arabic history in places as diverse as Dubai, Seville, Cairo and the Portuguese village of Monsanto. He is not only interested in the past but in the deep present, its poetics. Throughout the book and his travels Mateer finds languages, translators and ghosts at least as evidential as the places themselves, and he writes with a sense that every poem is an invocation. Written over the course of the past seven years, Unbelievers also contains an interview with the poet and a key twenty-five year old poem from Afrikaans that was privately circulated in Farsi translation in Tehran.


"Mateer's manner and the complex resonances of his work reminded me a little of the prose of his compatriot, the Nobel Prize-winning novelist J.M. Coetzee. The poems are inquisitorial, ethically preoccupied and sometimes powerfully intense." —The Japan Times

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