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Dancing in Other Words International Poetry Festival, Curated by Breyten Breytenbach, to be Held at Spier 10-11 May

Breyten Breytenbach

Alert! Spier, in partnership with the Pirogue Collective, a voluntary association of individuals convened by Breyten Breytenbach and an outgrowth of the Gorée Institute in Senegal, are planning an international poetry festival to be held at the winery outside Stellenbosch from 10 to 11 May this year.

KatalekteImagine AfricaOm die gedagte van geelBody BereftMankepank en ander verseDie SneeuslaperAgaat

The festival, called Dancing in Other Words / Die Dansende Digtersfees, will be curated by Breytenbach and feature international poets from across the globe such as Ko Un (South Korea), Carolyn Forché (USA), Yang Lian (China), Joachim Sartorius (Germany), Hans van de Waarsenburg (Holland), Tomaž Šalamun (Slovenia) and David Shulman (Israel). Local poets to take part include Antjie Krog, Petra Müller and Marlene van Niekerk.

The programme will be announced on 1 April.

Press release:

International Poetry Masters Gather at Spier

Dancing in Other Words / Die Dansende Digtersfees, is an international poetry festival, curated by Breyten Breytenbach, that will take place at Spier, outside Stellenbosch, on Friday 10 and Saturday 11 May 2013.

South Africans Antjie Krog, Petra Müller and Marlene van Niekerk are among the group of renowned poets who will gather on 6 May, for one week, to explore poetry’s age-old function as “the dreaming vein in the body of society”.

Visiting poets include Nobel Prize frontrunners, political dissidents, activists and award-winning literary figures from the Republic of Korea, China, the USA, Germany, Holland, Slovenia and Israel.


Eleven poets, each internationally renowned in their own right, will spend the first part of the week together, in conversation, travelling and translating. The assembly will culminate in a public programme at Spier, on Friday 10 and Saturday 11 May. The two-day programme will consist of afternoon conversations and master classes; and evening readings, stage crafted and with musical performance.

All events will be ticketed. The conversations will be free of charge and the evening performances will cost R150 per person (food and wine included). Tickets will become available on Monday 1 April, with the announcement of the programme.

For enquiries about preferential booking, phone Spier at 021 809 1100, during office hours, Monday to Friday, or email For more information, visit

A Spier and Pirogue Partnership

As a joint project between Spier and the Pirogue Collective, Dancing in Other Words is the first concretizing of a partnership that will be developed in regular future events, be they cultural, social and/or political.

“The partnership platforms true and relevant excellence,” says Spier CEO Andrew Milne. “We take pride in honouring a handful of true masters of their craft, while at the same time nourishing their, and our own, artistic communities.”


Among the participants are:

Ko Un (1933), an extraordinarily prolific South Korean poet, former political detainee and ex-Buddist monk routinely mentioned as a frontrunner for the Nobel Prize in Literature;

Carolyn Forché (1950), an American poet, editor, translator and human rights advocate who holds the Lannan Chair in Poetry at Georgetown University;

Yang Lian (1955), a Chinese poet exiled after the Tiananmen massacre, whose work has been translated into more than twenty languages;

Joachim Sartorius (1946), a prize-winning German writer, diplomat, professor, Doctor of Law, former head of the Goethe-Institute world-wide and Director General of ‘Berlin Festivals’;

Hans van de Waarsenburg (1943), a Dutch poet, former chairman of PEN and founder of The Maastricht International Poetry Nights;

Tomaž Šalamun (1941), 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; and,

David Shulman (1949), an Israeli poet, world renowned Indologist, peace activist and author of Dark Hope: Working for Peace in Israel and Palestine.


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