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POETRY AFRICA BOOK LAUNCHES (article first published : 2007-10-1)

The Poetry Africa Festival will feature the launch of a number of poetry publications.

October 2: Handsome Jita – selected poems by Vonani Bila, founder and editor of the poetry journal Timbila. He also directs the Timbila Poetry Project in Limpopo Province which hosts writing workshops, organises exchange programmes and publishes South African poets. Vonani was a featured poet at Poetry Africa 2005 and has also performed in Brazil, Sweden, Holland and Belgium. He was short-listed for the 2005 Daimler-Chrysler Award for poetry. Handsome Jita combines the selected best from his previous three collections No Free Sleeping (1998), In the Name of Amandla (2004) and Magicstan Fires (2006). Handsome Jita is published by UKZN Press Sept 2007 - R120,00.

Kobus Moolman’s Separating the Seas will also be launched on October 2. Kobus teaches creative writing at UKZN and is editor of the poetry journal, Fidelities. His previous poetry collections include Time like Stone (2000) which was awarded the 2001 Ingrid Jonker Prize and Feet of the Sky (2003). His play Full Circle was awarded the PANSA Jury Prize in 2004. In July 2007, Kobus published a collection of radio plays titled Blind Voices. Separating the Seas celebrates the quiet beauty of the ordinary, speaking in the enigmatic strokes of abstract art. The poems give lyrical form and voice to the silence at the edge of language and comprehension, invoking the ‘found’ moment with an imaginative aptness that makes you smile with recognition. Separating the Seas is published by UKZN Press July 2007 - R95,00.

October 3: Lush: poems for four voices by Haidee Kruger who is a lecturer in Language Practice and English Literature at the Vaal Triangle Campus of North-West University. She teaches twentieth-century poetry and fiction, as well as modules on editing and translation, and has worked as an editor, translator and materials developer, mostly in the field of educational publishing. She holds an MA in English Literature (on the Beat poetry of Allen Ginsberg) and is currently reading for a PhD in Translation Studies at Wits, focusing on the translation of children's literature in the South African educational context. Her research interests are diverse, and she has published research articles on literature and psychoanalysis, Beat literature, translation and editing.

“Poetry is a way of reclaiming the infinite possibilities of words to express the infinite variety of experience,” she says. “To do that, poetry reinvents language, makes it new. Sometimes this means simplifying language; sometimes it means complicating it. Sometimes it means completely taking it apart. Sometimes it just means having fun with it. Mostly it involves creating multiplicity and opening up possibility. In this, the reader and the writer are partners, collaborators, co-conspirators. Reading is an active process, collaborative, reciprocal – not a passive escape or swept-up-ness into a world created by somebody else. With every reading of a poem, readers participate in the making new of language, thereby creating new ways of saying and experiencing the world.” Haidee Kruger has had poetry, fiction and cut-ups published in print and online, in Literator, Green Dragon, Carapace, Botsotso, Fidelities, Englishes: Letterature Inglesi Contemporanee, Sweet Magazine and PoetryNet. Lush: poems for four voices is published by Protea Books 2007 - R100,00.

October 4: Napo Masheane’s poetry and essay anthology Caves speak in Metaphors. Napo Masheane was born in Soweto and grew up in Qwaqwa ( Free State). Holding a Marketing Management and Speech and Drama Diploma, she is a writer, director, producer, poet and an acclaimed performer on both international and national stages. She is a founding member of Feela Sista! Spoken Word Collective (Poetry Africa 2004) as well as the founder of Kalaneng Arts Track, a youth theatre organisation created to empower emerging artists. She is also the co-director of Colour of the Diaspora, an international collective of black women from the United States and South Africa.

Napo Masheane was a nominee for the 2005 Daimler Chrysler South African Poetry Award and has studied at or worked in: the Market Theatre, the Windybrow Theatre, the Grahamstown National Arts Festival, the University of Johannesburg, the Civic Theatre (Actors Centre), the SABC, Fuba School of Dramatic Arts, the University of California, Jungel Theater (Germany), Soweto Youth Drama Society, Farnebo College (Sweden), and The Lion King (New York City). She recently performed at Maitisong Theatre in Botswana and the Harare International Festival of the Arts (HIFA). She is currently the Managing Director of her own production company Village Gossip. She has performed and shared stage with, amongst others, Don Mattera, Lebo Mashile, Kgafela Magogodi, Jessica Care Moore, Toni Blackman and Linton Kwesi Johnson. The year 2007 has been particularly successful and has seen her provocative and humorous one woman show My Bum Is Genetic, Deal with It win wide acclaim. At school she was “one of those big butt, fat, dark, short girls who went unnoticed and forced to sit in the front row”, she says. By getting involved in music, the school choir and dancing, she gained self-confidence and recognition. Caves speak in Metaphors is published by Village Gossip Productions, 2007.

October 5: The Lady Missionary by Durban-born Gail Dendy who is now married and lives in Johannesburg. She holds five university degrees: a BA (Natal University, Durban), BA (Hons)(Speech and Drama) (Natal University, Pietermaritzburg (top student)), a Higher Diploma in Library Science (Natal University, Pietermaritzburg (top student)), a BA (Hons) (cum laude, Jewish Studies)(Unisa) and an MA (cum laude, Jewish Studies)(Unisa). Her MA dissertation dealt with symbolism in Antiquity and was supervised by Joseph Gutmann, an American academic and world authority on Jewish Art. She also holds one year of an LLB degree, having decided ultimately not to complete those studies.

Gail has worked in numerous different fields, the common thread being the use of the written word. As an academic she taught Jewish Studies at Unisa (specialising in Jewish Art) where her Study Guides are still used more than two decades later. Gail then worked as an advertising copywriter, a newswriter for Radio 702, a compiler of poetry programmes for SAFM radio, and finally as an assistant editor on the South African Law Journal. She is currently a Knowledge Manager and Information Specialist at a large international law firm where her duties involve research, editorial work, and the creation and maintenance of the Library & Information Intranet page.

Unusually for a person so wedded to the written word, Gail is known as an outstanding Contemporary Dancer. She holds the RAD Advanced Ballet Performer's Certificate as well as a teaching qualification in Cecchetti, and studied Contemporary Dance in Johannesburg under Robyn Orlin. Further dance training occurred at the London School of Contemporary Dance, Bat Dor (Tel Aviv) and Alvin Ailey (New York). She performed together with Robyn Orlin on stage and TV for almost a decade, winding up her dance career with a nomination for the first-ever AA Vita Award in the category of Best Performer. Gail continues to dance, doing Vaganova (Russian) ballet classes several times a week. Gail Dendy has five previous poetry collections, published between 1993 and 2002. The Lady Missionary is published by Kwela Books/Snail Press 2007.

All launches will take place at the Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre at 18h45 for 19h00 prior to the poetry programme of the evening.




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