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UWC Creates

UWC Hosts international and national poets at the Creates Event

The University of the Western Cape (UWC) hosted Southern Africa’s first multilingual creative writing programme called UWC Creates.

The programme brings together students writing in English, isiXhosa, and Afrikaans and is coordinated by UWC’s Meg VanderMerwe who is a lecturer for the Faculty of Arts, teaching creative writing at the English department.

Van der Merwe says she started UWC Creates in 2009 with famous South African poet, Antjie Krog as a means to encourage creative and social dialogue across languages, culture and ethnicities and in 2011, the celebrated South African writer Sindiwe Magona joined  in to help.

“Together we hope to foster dynamic and previously marginalized voices in South African literature, which recognize the hybridity of this country whilst also honouring their own literary and cultural roots”.

“Every year UWC Creates hosts a literary festival. We also host individual workshops and events with visiting writers throughout the year. Zakes Mda, Athol Fugard, Eben Venter (from Canada), Jean McNeil (from the UK), and more recently the UK poet Graham Mort are just a few of the writers we have been lucky enough to introduce our students to”, says Van der Merwe.

This is the second consecutive year that UWC is hosting the event in conjunction with the Spier 'Dancing in Other Words' Festival, and the UWC team hopes the collaboration will continue.

“In the past we came together with the ‘Franschhoek Literary Festival’ to launch our 2012 UWC Creates anthology, 'This is my Land' and in 2011 and 2013 we collaborated with the ‘Open Book Festival’.”, says VanderMerwe. She described the purpose of the event as something which is continuous and aims  to encourage multilingual, multi-ethnic vision.

Van der Merwe says: “Spier brings over a dazzling group of multilingual world-class poets each year for their ‘Dancing in Other Words’festival; and we are very lucky that the poets are willing to take time out of their busy schedules to read at UWC and to share a stage with our students.”

“Apparently the 2013 ‘Dancing in Other Words’ poets said that last year's event at UWC was the highlight of their trip and that they were very impressed by the standard of the UWC Creates students and alumni's work,”  Van der Merwe explains.

She continued by saying that they are planning a collaboration between some of the upcoming graduates participating in the UWC Creates programme and some of the the distinguished local and international Spier poets.

“We always take the approach of encouraging UWC Creates students and alumni to share the stage with those writers who are already established. I think we are quite unique in that regard. Most creative writing programmes tend to keep their students in the audience rather than allow them to share equal billing with famous writers”.  Van der Merwe concludes.