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CROSSING BORDERS (article first published : 2005-05-6)

“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.

The first South African leg of this project came to a close in March and was extraordinarily successful. The project has also been underway in Uganda, Kenya, Malawi, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Nigeria, Ghana and Cameroon.

The second phase in South Africa launches in June 2005 and the Performing Arts Network of South Africa (PANSA) will once again assist with facilitation in partnership with the British Council and Lancaster University.

“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. The successful writers will be selected by a panel of experts who will screen the submissions.

Those chosen to participate will receive a one-day induction and thereafter will complete a series of assignments over a nine-month period. 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 also supports the programme at http://www.crossingborders-africanwriting.org/

In order to apply, writers must be over 18 years of age and be experienced, with a portfolio of original work: poetry, prose fiction or writing for children. They must 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. They need to be able to dedicate time to complete six writing assignments by agreed deadlines and fully engage in the mentoring exchanges. In addition they need to be South African citizens and able to access e-mail facilities on a regular basis.

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: thora.jacobs@britishcouncil.org.za by no later than May 16, 2005.

Alternatively, submissions can be faxed to 011 718 4400 (Attention: Thora Jacobs) or posted to The British Council, Attention: Thora Jacobs, Ground Floor, Forum 1, Braampark, 33 Hoofd Street, Braamfontein, JHB, 2001.

Please note: Handwritten submissions or those that exceed the requirements above, or those that arrive after May 16, will not be accepted. Submissions will not be returned and only successful applicants will be informed. The panellists’ decision is final and no correspondence will be entered into.

For further information on the project, contact the British Council Call Centre on 0860 01 22 33 and visit the British Council SA website www.britishcouncil.org/southafrica or phone the PANSA office on 011 492 3211 or e-mail pansa@artslink.co.za




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