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CROSSING BORDERS (article first published : 2004-06-14)

The British Council and Lancaster University are ready to embark on their cross-cultural distance-learning project for South African and Botswanan writers – Crossing Borders. Fifteen writers have been selected to participate after a gruelling selection process. The panel of experts - Prof David Medalie, Tembeka Mbobo and Phaswane Mpe – worked their way through 150 submissions to make their final decision.

Devi Govender is the only writer chosen from KZN. The other participants are Maren Bodenstein (Mpumalanga); Enole Ditshekgo (Botswana); Proctor Dladla (Gauteng); Dorian Haarhoff (Western Cape); Kabelo Joseph (Botswana); Ntombi Lawrence (Gauteng); Phomelelo Machika (Limpopo); Siphiwo Mahala (Gauteng); Napo Masheane (Gauteng); Peter Merrington (Western Cape); Zamani Mkhwanazi (Western Cape); Sandile Ngidi (Gauteng); Gasebalwe Seretse (Botswana) and Sarah Warner (Gauteng).

Crossing Borders looks at promoting cross-cultural dialogue between writers working in English in SA (in the fields of poetry, prose fiction and writing for children) 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 will attend a one-day induction on June 19 at the British Council in Johannesburg 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 in March 2005. A website currently under development will also support the programme.

The project is coordinated by the Performing Arts Network of South Africa (PANSA). Further information from PANSA National Office on 011 880 5486 or pansa@artslink.co.za or visit www.britishcouncil.org/southafrica




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