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CROSSING BORDERS (article first published : 2004-04-22)

Crossing Borders is an exciting initiative developed by the British Council and Lancaster University. It is a cross-cultural distance-learning project for South African writers working in the fields of poetry, prose fiction and writing for children. So far, the project has taken flight in Uganda, Kenya, Malawi, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Nigeria, Ghana and Cameroon. The South African leg launches in June 2004 and will be coordinated by PANSA.

Crossing Borders promotes cross-cultural dialogue between writers working in English and experienced UK-based mentors. This is facilitated through dedicated on-line information technology facilities, which assists in opening up a shared creative and cultural space. Each writer on the programme is linked to a professional UK writer and they communicate through e-mail exchange. The participants receive personal and specific attention from their mentors.

Those chosen to participate will receive a one-day induction to introduce them to each other, clarify programme arrangements and provide information packs and briefing on distance-learning techniques. Writers will submit six assignments over a seven month period and their mentors will analyse, discuss and suggest strategies for revision with them. Participants will explore a range of new reading, engage critically with aspects of the writing process and develop a portfolio of new writing. The programme ends with a series of ‘live’ writing workshops and public readings attended by participants and a visiting UK writer. A website currently under development will also support the programme.

In order to apply, writers must be over 18 and experienced with a portfolio of original work comprising poetry, prose fiction or writing for children. They must also have an excellent standard of written English and have a strong commitment to developing their own work and that of other writers, through participating in creative writing networks. Writers should also be able to be able to access e-mail facilities on a regular basis and dedicate time to complete six writing assignments by agreed deadlines and fully engage in the mentoring exchanges

Applicants must submit: a letter of interest (up to two pages) saying which literary form (poetry, prose fiction or writing for children) they wish to write in and why they would benefit from participating in the programme; a one-page CV with name, age, gender, contact details and details of any publications; either three poems or three sides of A4 prose writing (story or novel extract).

All of the above must be typed and submitted preferably via e-mail to pansa@artslink.co.za by no later than May 14. Alternatively, submissions can be faxed to 086 673 7002 or posted to Postnet Suite 114, Private Bag X7, Parkview, 2122, Johannesburg.

Hand written submissions, those that exceed the requirements above, or those that arrive after May 14, will not be accepted.

Further information on the project from the PANSA National Office on 011 880 5486 or e-mail: pansa@artslink.co.za




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