Diederik Johannes (Boet) Opperman (1914 - 1985)

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Birthplace: Dundee, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa
Death: Died in Stellenbosch, Western Cape, South Africa
Managed by: Heila Janse van Rensburg
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About Diederik Johannes (Boet) Opperman

Diederik Johannes Opperman (Oom Dirk) was one of the best-known Afrikaans poets.

He was born on 29 September 1914 in Dundee in Natal, where he grew up. He went to school in the towns of Estcourt and Vryheid, and afterwards received an M.A. degree from the University of Natal. He taught at schools in Pietermaritzburg and Johannesburg, and later on became editor of "Die Huisgenoot". In 1949 he became a lecturer at the University of Cape Town. During this period he completed one of his most important publications - "Digters van Dertig" (Poets of the thirties) - in 1953.

From 1960 to 1975 he was a professor of Afrikaans at Stellenbosch University, where he also served on the editorial board of the publication "Standpunte" ("points of view"). He died in 1985 in Stellenbosch.

He won the coveted Hertzog prize for poetry in 1947 for his collection "Heilige beeste(His first book published in 1945)" ("Holy cattle"). He also wrote "Negester oor Ninevé" ("Nine star over Niniveh"), "Joernaal van Jorik" ("The Journal of Jorik"), "Engel uit die klip" ("Angel from the stone"), "Blom en baaierd" ("Flower and Chaos" or perhaps "Flower and rubble"), "Dolosse" ("Knucklebones"), "Kuns-mis" ("Fertilizer"), "Edms. Bpk" ("Pty. Ltd") en "Komas uit 'n bamboesstok" ("Comas from a bamboo pole").

His three verse plays, "Periandros van Korinthe" ("Periandros of Corinth"), "Vergelegen" (a place name, lit. "faraway") and "Voëlvry" ("Outlaw"; lit. "bird-free") appeared in 1954, 1956 and 1968.

His collected essays on literature were published as "Wiggelstok" ("Divining rod"), "Naaldekoker" ("Dragonfly") and "Verspreide opstelle" ("Spread-out essays" - the direct opposite of "Collected essays" in Afrikaans).

He won four Hertzog prizes (in 1947, 1956, 1969 and 1980), four Hofmeyer prizes (in 1954, 1956, 1966 and 1980), two CNA Prizes (in 1964 and 1980), a prize from the "Drie-Eeue Stigting" ("Three Centuries Foundation") in 1956, the Louis Luyt-prize in 1980 and the Gustav Preller prize for literary criticism in 1985.

The South African composer Cromwell Everson wrote music for some of Opperman's poems e.g. "Kontraste" and "Nagstorm oor die see".

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Diederik Johannes (Boet) Opperman's Timeline

1914
September 29, 1914
Dundee, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa
1985
1985
Age 70
Stellenbosch, Western Cape, South Africa