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Friday 5 Facts: UWC Creates - Meet The Creatives

Friday Fast Facts: UWC Creates - Getting to know the programme

In 2009, famed South African writer Meg van der Merwe created UWC Creates – a means to encourage creative and social dialogue across languages, culture and ethnicities. The Creates programme is offered in English, Afrikaans and isiXhosa - the only creative writing programme in South Africa operating across three languages - and learners are exposed to both prose and poetry writing, learning to work with their natural gifts and develop their own natural storytelling voices.

Each language programme is presented by seasoned published authors and poets – Meg Van der Merwe and Wendy Woodward (English), Antjie Krog and Anastasia de Vries (Afrikaans), and Sindiwe Magona (isiXhosa) – who guide students to hone their talents.

But here are a few things you might not know about the UWC CREATES educators, and what they bring to the table:

1.Meg Van der Merwe:A fiction writer whose work has been published in South Africa and the UK, Meg is also interested in the practice and nature of creative writing. But did you know her 2010 debut book, This Place I Call Home, was an Oprah Book Club pick? The novel consists of ten short stories relating a variety of characters’ perspectives of what exactly home really means in South Africa. Her second novel, Zebra Crossing, was released in 2014 – and no, it’s not about a zebra, but the struggles of a young albino Zimbabwean girl.

2.Sindiwe Magona: UWC’s Xhosa Writer-in-Residence has received several awards for her work, including the Molteno Gold Medal for promoting the Xhosa culture and language, as well as a Lifetime Achievement Award for contribution to South African Literature and the Presidential Order of iKhamanga. The Sindiwe Magona Literary Prize (enter now!) is a literary competition which honours this amazing author.  But did you know that this accomplished writer worked as a domestic worker while completing her secondary education? That’s just one of the interesting bits of her autobiography, To My Children’s Children

3.Antjie Krog:Arguably the best-known Afrikaans poet in South Africa – most  of us have done one of her poems at some point in our secondary schooling career, whether from Mankepank en Ander Monsters, Met woorde soos met kerse, The Stars say Tsau, or elsewhere – she’s also been a journalist, a novelist and an activist.. But did you know she penned her first anti-apartheid poem at high school, and her first book of verse, Dogter van Jefta, at the age of seventeen? Or that Antjie’s 1998 novel, Country of my Skull, was developed into a movie starring actor Samuel. L. Jackson?

4.Wendy Woodward: An accomplished poet who teaches southern African Literature, Animal Studies and Creative Writing, her very first volume of poetry, The Animal Gaze: Animal Subjectives in southern African Narratives, won the University of CapeTown’s Deputy Vice-Chancellor’s Book Award. Wendy’s current research focuses on the urban animal photographs of Fanie Jason, as well as on the practices of animal-reading, affect and ethics. In fact, she’s so passionate about it that she organised the colloquium where the decision was made to form the Animal Studies Round Table (ASRA) and is on the academic board of the Minding Animals International Conference..

5.And the Best of the Rest, Too:There is nothing more rewarding than learning from the best – which is why UWC Creates invites great creators from all over the world to work with and speak to students. Where else would young creative get to learn from the likes of Zakes Mdaand UK-based poet Graham Mort, among many others?

And it’s Open to All!

One more thing: Did you know that this creative writing programme is open to all UWC students no matter their registered faculty? For the registered under-graduate creative writing programme the only requirement is that you hand in a portfolio of your work before being accepted into the programme. And yes, there is a post-graduate creative writing programme.

Well? What are you waiting for? Get creative!