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9 May 2013
International Poets Visit UWC

A special poetry caravan is stopping at UWC on Thursday 9 May as part of a weeklong poetry festival titled Dancing in Other Words organised by well-known poet Breyten Breytenbach. Nobel Prize frontrunners, political dissidents, activists and award-winning poets from across the world will participate in the Arts Faculty’s yearly Poetry Lunch hour between one and two o’clock in the Library Auditorium. 

Some of UWC’s home-grown poets will perform alongside Ko Un (Korea), Carolyn Forche (US), Yang Lian (China) Tomaž Šalamun (Slovenia), Joachim Sartorius (Germany) Marlene van Niekerk, Hans van den Waarsenburg, Petra Muller, David Shulman and Antjie Krog.

These poets have been invited to travel together under the age old African concept of travelling as a caravan performing with local poets. It all culminates in a weekend celebration of debating, reading and dancing on the Spier estate.

Among the poets is Ko Un, an extraordinarily prolific South Korean poet, former political ?detainee and a man who has regularly been mentioned as a frontrunner fo?the Nobel Prize in Literature. Also Tomaž Šalamun, a Slovenian poet recognized as a leader of neo-avant-garde poetry in Central Europe whose? widely translated work has earned him universal critical acclaim. American poet Carolyn Forché, translator and human rights advocate who holds the Lannan Chair in Poetry at Georgetown University, will be here, as well as Yang Lian,  who was exiled after the Tiananmen massacre in China. His work has been, translated into?more? than twenty languages.

Dancing in Other Words is a week-long festival that explores poetry’s age-old function as “the dreaming vein in the body of society”.

Time: 13h00

Date: Thursday, 9 May 2013

Venue:  University of the Western Cape, Library Auditorium

For any further enquiries please contact:

Franwin Strauss


Tel: 021 - 959 3677

Ko Un

Born in Kunsan (North Cholla Province) in 1933, Ko Un is probably the most controversial and surely the most prolific Korean writer at present alive. He has published well over a hundred volumes of poetry, fiction, essays, translations, and drama. His poetry ranges from the short lyric to the vast epic sweep of the seven volumes of Paektu-san. His fiction includes the Buddhist-inspired novelHwaomkyong (The Avatamsaka Sutra) and Son (Zen), a fictionalized history of the early Son (Zen) masters of China and Korea. The on-going series Maninbo (Ten Thousand Lives) contains short poems evoking one by one all the people Ko Un has met in his life, as an expression of his deep desire to incarnate in his poetry a radical rewriting of modern Korean history.

Breyten Breytenbach

Breyten Breytenbach was born (1939) on the banks of the Breërivier in the Little Karoo, and hence the pseudonym. He studied at the University of Cape Town (Michaelis School of Fine Arts), left South Africa in 1959 and had his exile confirmed after the Sharpeville Massacre and after he fell foul of the Mixed Marriages Act and the Law on Immorality by marrying Ngo Thi Hoang Lien, of Vietnamese descent.

He started publishing in 1964, both poetry and prose. He started exhibiting in various European galleries from the early 1960’s on. He returned clandestinely to South Africa in 1975 and then spent 7 and a half years of a 9-years conviction for Terrorism in South African prisons. He taught at various universities both in SA and the United States, helped bring about the Centre for Creative Arts at the Kwazulu Natal University in Durban and was a co-founder of the Gorée Institute in Dakar, Senegal (1992) with which he remains involved. He works from Catalonia, Paris and Gorée. Date of death not yet decided.

Tomaž Šalamun

With his clearly rebellious entrance into literature, poet Tomaž Šalamun introduced in Slovene poetry new dimensions in terms of its form, expression, content, and ideas, which brought him extraordinary and universal attention and also earned him high notoriety internationally. He was first drawn to literary creativity through his association with the avant-garde group OHO, which followed constructivist models of the contemporary European and American poetic movements, but simultaneously he developed his personal poetics, in which this sense of visual art plays an important role.

Šalamun was born in Zagreb (1941), spent his childhood in Ljublaja, and short periods also Mostar and Koper. He at first decided to study art history, but then poetry were strongly influenced by his stays and work in the USA and Mexico, where he complemented his poetic repertoire as well as his perspective of the world, based in the liberal, audacious, unrestrained ideas about himself and the world or, rather, about the world in himself. He became a member of the Slovene Academy of Sciences and Arts in 2005. 

Carolyn Forché

Carolyn Forché is the author of four books of poetry: Gathering The Tribes, The Country Between Us, The Angel of History and Blue Hour. She is also the editor of Against Forgetting: Twentieth Century Poetry of Witness (W.W. Norton & Co., 1993). Her poetry and essays have been translated into twenty-four languages, and she has given readings in many countries, most recently in Iceland, Finland, Vietnam, Libya, Jamaica and Greece. She has also translated the works of Robert Desnos, Claribel Alegria and Mahmoud Darwish, and has received fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation, and Lannan Foundation, as well as other literary and teaching awards, including the Yale Series of Younger Poets Award, the Lamont Prize and the Los Angeles TimesBook Award. In 1998 she received the Edita and Ira Morris Hiroshima Foundation Award for Peace and Culture in Stockholm for her work on behalf of human rights and the preservation of memory and culture. Forthcoming books include a memoir, a book of essays and a fifth collection of poems, In the Lateness of the World. She is Professor of English at English at Georgetown University, where she also directs Lannan Center for Poetics and Social Practice.

Yang Lian

Yang Lian, a Chinese poet, was born in Switzerland, grew up in China and now lives in London. He published 11 volumes of poetry, 2 volumes of prose as well as 1 volume of essays. His work has been translated into more 25 languages, and his representative works including YI, Where the Sea Stands Still; Concentric Circles; Riding Pisces: Poems from Five Collections; Lee Valley Poems… etc. His works have been reviewed as “like MacDiarmid meets Rilke with Samurai sword drawn!’”, “one of the most representative voices of Chinese literature” and “one of the great world poets of our era’”. His latest publication in English was Jade Ladder, an anthology of Contemporary Chinese Poetry edited by him,W.N. Herbert and others. Among other prizes, he won Nonino International Literature Prize 2012 (the jury of the prize presided by V S Naipaul), and he has been elected a board member of PENInternational PEN in 2008 and 2011.