rustum-kozain-south-africaRustum Kozain was born in 1966 and schooled in Paarl. He studied for several years at the University of Cape Town and between 1994 and 1995, spent ten months in the United States of America on a Fulbright Scholarship. From 1998 to 2004, he lectured in the Department of English at UCT, teaching in literature, film, popular culture and creative writing.


Kozain’s poetry has been published in local and international journals, with some of his work translated in French, Dutch, Spanish, Italian and Indonesian. His debut volume, This Carting Life, was published in 2005 (Kwela Books/ Snailpress) and awarded both the Ingrid Jonker Poetry Prize and the Olive Schreiner Award. His second volume, Groundwork, was released in July 2012, also by Kwela Books/Snailpress.

Groundwork, Snailpress editor, Gus Ferguson says, “Kozain has intentionally retained connections with his early work while simultaneously introducing a group of poems that indicate the promise of work still to come. His voice has strengthened and has a new confidence making the poems (paradoxically) lighter without losing their characteristic trademark seriousness…a thoughtful, pitch-perfect collection that resonates with the reader long after the last poem is read.”


Kozain’s topics range from the political to love to the minutiae of everyday life and happily indulges in influences from other poets, as well as his love of jazz (Charles Mingus mainly) and pop music. He is confident in stealing lines from Derek Walcott and Linton Kwesi Johnson, or any poet and singer able to pierce through to the heart of the matter.


Kozain insists that poetry – whether serious or funny – is a serious, necessary matter and not a casual, Sunday-afternoon activity.


He lives in Cape Town and works as a freelance copy-editor, writing also occasional prose and book reviews.