15 questions for Johan Myburg


15 questions for Johan Myburg

Somewhere in his head there is a collection of poems, the writer, language practitioner and editor tells LAUREEN ROSSOUW.


1. What is your morning ritual?

An early morning cigarette is a ritual I've been doing without for a while now. Perhaps the act of deactivating an alarm early in the morning, going out and being outside (even in winter), the singing of garden birds (in summer), the pleasantness of just being was more habit-forming than I ever suspected. Maybe more than nicotine. The ritual continues nonetheless. The only difference is that instead of lighting a cigarette, I now do not light one.

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2. Which international publications do you read regularly?

Online, The Guardian and The Art Newspaper are a lifeline to a world that does still exist, even if one finds little evidence of it in other publications.

Ever since the first issue of The World of Interiors appeared in 1981 (I think) and landed on the shelf at our local CNA, I have been obsessed with this magazine with “startlingly beautiful things" in mind. It was in this magazine that I encountered the word “eclectic" for the first time, and although I knew that the things described so vividly and precisely were beyond my reach, the photos were proof that they existed somewhere. Which was enough for me in a way. But in addition to the content, it was the offer (including the format and the paper and its smell) that gave rise to my weakness for good magazines. It was expensive at the time and still isn't cheap, but I still admire The World of Interiors and I try to get hold of it as often as I can.

3. To what do you listen in your car?

Pink Martini's 2007 album, Hey Eugene!  

4. What can't you live without?

I hope I will always have some kind of view.

5. If you had to date yourself, why would you break up?

Oh, that's very easy. Because I sing in the shower.

6. If you could play in a love scene, who would you be?

Any triumphant, tragic, failed, heroic role. As long as it's not annoying or boring.

7. What would you say is your superpower?

I think I can spot pretentiousness a mile away for what it is.

8. Explain yourself in a hashtag.

#EverythingIsNotBroken. Or rather, that's what I strive for.

9. Who is your favourite author? Are there books you reread often?

I keep going back to Karel Schoeman.

There are books on my reread list, like Alan Paton's Cry, the Beloved Country, that I think one should read again and again. But the list of what I haven't read is longer. And enjoys priority.

10. If you could give a famous person a book, who would it be and which book?

For so many personalities (more than artists) in (especially) the Afrikaans music industry, I would like to hand a copy of André P Brink's 1982 novel Houd-den-bek.

11. What kind of child were you?

Looking back, I suspect I was mousy and lurked around, without a shadow.

12. What do you regret?

To me, regret is different from being sorry. I am sorry about many things. I immediately apologise (if I have offended anyone) and move on. But regret feels like a somewhat permanent condition to me. As if you can easily live in a state of regret. I try to avoid that. I believe little good can come from regret. It is hampering and causes weariness.

Unbridled regret has the further nasty temptation that one wants to convince oneself “things should have been different". They should not.

13. Your pet hate?

Any form of posturing.

14. What quality do you resent in other people?


15. What do you look forward to?

The ability one has to give meaning. If you don't have it any more, there is nothing to look forward to.

♦ VWB ♦

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