Established in 2013 with the primary mandate of promoting international dialogue on South African literature and culture, the Writing South Africa Now (WSAN) collective held its third colloquium in conjunction with the South African Poetry Project (ZAPP) at the University of Cambridge on 26 and 27 June 2015. Also launched in 2013, ZAPP is a collaboration between Cambridge’s Centre for Commonwealth Education and the University of the Witwatersrand in an effort to “develop research on South African poetry and support its teaching in secondary schools”. This partnership resulted in fruitful discussions on scholarship, literary practice, performance, publication, and criticism in South Africa.
The colloquium consisted of four panels: Testimony and Truth, Politics and Aesthetics, The Global and the Transcultural, and Identity and Representation. Interspersed between these panels were guest talks by scholars, Rita Barnard and Kelwyn Sole, as well as readings and performances by the renowned writers and poets: Lyndall Gordon, Henrietta Rose-Innes, Denis Hirson, Toni Stuart, Malika Ndlovu, Isobel Dixon, and Kate Kilalea. Amongst questions raised during the Testimony and Truth panel session were the impact of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission on literary production, representation, and the types of metaphors which its legacy has brought to the fore in post-liberation writing. Panelists concentrated on Antjie Krog’s Country of My Skull, Ruth First’s 117 Days, Nadine Gordimer’s Burger’s Daughter, Njabulo Ndebele’s The Cry of Winnie Mandela, Yvette Christiansë’s Unconfessed, and Lauren Buekes’ Zoo City – to name but a few. Continue reading