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Archive for the ‘Facebook’ Category

“Writing this book was painful, but enlightening.” Carol Gibbs on All Things Bright and Broken

Published in the Sunday Times

Writing this book was painful, but enlightening; a journey of self-discovery. When my mother died I had an emotional breakdown, and then I was diagnosed with a malignant melanoma. I realised the fragility of life and I decided to write. My inspiration has been largely my own despair, a desire to explore family dynamics and understand myself and my parents and siblings on a deeper level. To heal.

Despite this, All Things Bright and Broken is not a sad book. Seen through the eyes of a child, there is lots of unintentional humour. Frank McCourt’s Angela’s Ashes also inspired me. His childhood in the slums of Ireland was different, but there were parallels. I had to face my buried monsters and the dissociation and false self built to cope with the harshness of childhood. It has taken courage to visit those dark places in my mind.

I knew this would be the ultimate journey of self-discovery and so I delved deeper into psychology. I devoured every self-help book I could find. I hope the book resonates with readers, even if it is only discovering gratitude at not having spent a childhood crippled by adverse circumstances.

My first attempts were prosaic and boring. One morning when reviewing the previous day’s longhand scribbling, I read: He sat on the windowsill, framed by the Dorothy Perkins roses … That was the turning point. It may sound ordinary, but to me it was like discovering colour when I had previously only used black and white. Something changed in me. I started writing with a different eye. Everything came alive and flowed with a new rhythm. No one was more surprised than I was. I wondered where this had come from and then I remembered my father’s fascination with language, both English and Afrikaans. He carried a notebook with him at all times, filled with phrases from newspapers and magazines.

But technically I was still in the dark ages. Changing from longhand to computer was a huge challenge. It has taken 20 years to see this book grow from baby steps to the final published product. Some days I ended up in floods of tears – I battled with revealing family secrets and sharing my innermost feelings with the world.

But laughter saved me, and one incident comes to mind. My first version of the story was titled White Boots and Tuppenny Cakes. Having lunch in Kalk Bay, I struck up a conversation with a gentleman at the next table. He enquired about my writing and we swopped e-mail addresses. I received an e-mail enthusiastically enquiring about White Boobs and Tupperry Cakes. It kept me amused for weeks.

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A Writer’s Diary by Stephen Watson Relaunched with Bill Nasson, Hedley Twidle and Peter Anderson at The Book Lounge

Hedley Twidle, Peter Anderson and Bill Nasson

Writers and academics, publishers and poets, family and friends of the late Stephen Watson came together to celebrate the reissue of his book, A Writer’s Diary, at The Book Lounge in Cape Town recently.

Electric Book Works published the book with a special foreword by historian Bill Nasson, who was joined by Watson’s former colleagues from the University of Cape Town English Department, Peter Anderson and Hedley Twidle. Their insightful and generous conversation kept all in the audience spellbound, but the evening commenced with Mervyn Sloman welcoming everybody present.

Hedley Twidle, Peter Anderson and Bill NassonA Writer's DiaryHe recalled the profound and tremendous influence Stephen exerted, through his words and his person, on so many people in the book world. “It’s wonderful to have this book available once again,” he said.

Tanya Wilson spoke with a tender simplicity about her late husband, acknowledging how many people continue to miss Watson some four years after his death. The event was the first launch since his passing, the first his children, Hannah and Julian, now 10 and five, have attended. She paid tribute to the painstaking retyping of the manuscript by Douglas Skinner and the vision of Arthur Attwell and Martha Evans that saw the book brought back into publication.

Wilson remembered carrying a box filled to the brim with his diaries down 90 stairs to the car when the mountain fires that raged in March this year threatened their home on Boyes Drive. “I want you to imagine that box, filled to the brim of the same A5 Croxley notebooks, themselves filled with Stephen’s tiny scrawl – and any of you whose writing Stephen has commented on will remember that spidery scrawl … what I carried in the weight of that box was a way of life: genuine, disciplined, solitary, and largely unwitnessed.”

She reflected on the diary offering readers a sample of his way of life, which belonged to “someone who could not live any other way, he could not help himself. In this sense the diary is no construct, it has no artifice or affectation, it was not ‘put on’ for the sake of publication. It is utterly authentic. Stephen wrote like this on an almost daily basis, throughout his life, up until just days before he died.”

Wilson has shared her speech with Books LIVE – please scroll to the end to read the full text

Hedley Twidle noted that he has previously spoken at the launch of new books, so it evoked quite strong affect to be present the re-launch of a book that had long been a vital part of his life, a book he has come back to many times.

He noted Watson’s comments in the first few lines of the book about the nature of the diary as “a minor form on the periphery of literature”. He said, “I’ve always thought that this diary was a classic, maybe a minor classic, maybe a neglected classic in South African literature …

Twidle mentioned the diaries, as well as those of Athol Fugard, and reflected on the significance of the form for him. “It was immensely important to see people writing so directly and unashamedly about literature,” he said. “Stephen would be in despair about the way that literature was being discussed, how people who had no flair for literature would end up teaching it, and discussing it, trying to trip it up, outwit it, interrogate it in violent language against the creative act.

“I found this space where you could win by talking about literature in an immensely beautiful, important and stylish way. It was a major part of my development. At one point he says: ‘It’s a rare critic today who is able to give credence to the imaginative needs of the human being. Nothing seems to arouse more critical confusion, as well as hostility, than just these. Present day critics will address anything, rather than might provide shelter, even healing for the human heart. They will go off on any intricate loop line, rather than admit that after all literature finds much of its justification in answering to such needs.’

He quoted from Bill Nasson’s foreword to A Writer’s Diary where he speaks of the diary as a manifesto: “As an approach to life as an intellectually serious business, it presents a rich and engaging range of beliefs which fan out from a primary impulse. That impulse is to grasp at the heart of the matter, with unsparing candour.”

Nasson and Anderson shared their memories of Stephen Watson and spoke with wit and nuance of their own experience of the poet, the academic, colleague and friend, a man of remarkable intellect, courage and vision.

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Liesl Jobson tweeted live from the event using the hashtag #livebooks:


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Tanya Wilson’s speech, from the relaunch of Stephen Watson’s A Writer’s Diary:

Of course I am aware that this is a literary event, but also know that you are aware that it is not only that, Many, most of you are here, too, because you miss Stephen, and in that sense the event carries another kind of weight. It is the first launch of Stephen’s since his death, and the first one that his children, Hannah and Julian, now 10 and five, have attended.

There are other people who deserve particular mention and thanks. Many thanks to The Book Lounge for this evening. Bill Nasson, Peter Anderson and Hedley Twidle for agreeing to speak about A Writer’s Diary. Then – in relation to the publication itself – while Hugh Corder and I – as caretakers of Stephen’s literary legacy – had spoken about the republication of some of Stephen’s books, this particular republication was initiated and driven largely by Arthur Attwell and Martha Evans. We really are very grateful for the time and energy put into this project. While some fundraising was done – and here I’d like to that the Cape Tercentenary Fund for their contribution – much of the process has been a labour of love. Stephen’s tendency to dispense quickly with anything computer-related meant that there was no electronic copy of the book, and Douglas Skinner painstakingly retyped it. Martha Evans, among many other things, was primary proof-reader. Thanks to all of you. Thanks also to Michiel Botha for a beautiful cover design. And huge thanks to Bill Nasson for a truly wonderful foreword. If you already own the Diary, this one’s really is worth getting for the foreword.

On the topic of republications, Hugh and I are planning for this to be the first of several. Many of the books are out of print and deserve reprinting. I believe even A City Imagined cannot be acquired now. At some point a Selected Poems will be planned, which will include some poems that Stephen was working on in his last weeks. Support for these projects – in all forms – will be gladly received.

I’m going to say a few words firstly about Stephen’s diaries and about Stephen himself.

For several months after Stephen died, amid the pervasive dread and dreadfulness, a very specific fear arose in me, and that was of our house in St James burning down. The house itself held everything of our life together and everything of Stephen’s. All the books he loved, his papers, his letters, his entire archive. The fear may have been there because not long before Stephen died, Bill Nasson’s own office at Stellenbosch University had burnt to the ground, and he had lost a whole life’s worth of books, writing and much else. Or the fear may have been because often psychologically one fears a catastrophe that has, effectively, already happened: and the home I knew was already gone. At any rate, the specific fear of the house burning down subsided, but earlier this year the real threat of such a thing occurred, when the fire that raged across the mountain descended down to Boyes Drive, with only one house and several flammable stone pines between us and the fire. The very first box I found myself spontaneously hauling down our 90 odd steps to the car – in case we had to evacuate – was of decades worth of Stephen’s journals, dating back to the 70s. I want you to imagine that box, filled to the brim of the same A5 Croxley notebooks, themselves filled with Stephen’s tiny scrawl – and any of you whose writing Stephen has commented on will remember that spidery scrawl.

What I carried in the weight of that box was a way of life: genuine, disciplined, solitary, and largely unwitnessed. (Except for those who have either lived or holidayed or travelled with Stephen who will remember the kind of restless malaise that would descend upon him at a certain point in the morning – usually just as you were beginning to relax into breakfast – and the suddenness with which he would make his departure and find his way to a quiet surface with his Croxley notebook and a black fineliner.)

This publication, republication, is an sample of that way of life, belonging to someone who could not live any other way, he could not help himself. In this sense the Diary is no construct, it has no artifice or affectation, it was not “put on” for the sake of publication. It is utterly authentic. Stephen wrote like this on an almost daily basis, throughout his life, up until just days before he died.

This is the one everyone is fortunate enough to get to read. When this Diary, written in 1996, was published in 1997, nearly 20 years ago now, Stephen and I had been together a matter of months. I’m quite sure I had layers and layers of responses when I read it, but what I remember of my spontaneous reaction was that I really felt quite cross with him, and wanted to take issue. I was 26, certainly not without my own depressions, but riding the wave of hopefulness and freedom that was washing over South Africa at the time. I will confess that some of Stephen’s full-throttle attacks on South African culture were a shock to me. I felt defensive of the newborn nation. And it was my first real encounter with the sharpness of his scalpel, and the vehemence of his dissent.

I had yet to learn many things, over the years, and I did.

I grew to learn that if one focused too much on Stephen’s vehemence one could miss the point – and certainly miss the breadth and depth of his perspective – entirely.

I learned that if Stephen had a political home at all, it was among Eastern European writers: Zbigniew Herbert, Czesław Miłosz.

I learned, too, that it was only by means of that steady scalpel and the unflinching use of it that Stephen found his way to write the things that held such breathtaking poignancy. And I don’t just mean that the scalpel was sharp in both directions, more that something had to be cut through in order to attain the more far-reaching truths that he did. There could not be one without the other.

One of my favourite psychoanalytic thinkers is a man called Wilfred Bion and he has a rather radical notion of the development of the mind, which is that the mind grows only through exposure to the uncomfortable nature of truth. It only really grows if we are prepared to face that discomfort. Much of the time we choose to avoid it, or choose only to develop in ways which do not really, fundamentally, disturb us. Stephen was utterly incapable of not being disturbed by things.; he reached for things with his scalpel with a kind of truth instinct more powerful than most. Merciless, but also merciful.

Merciless in its “out with the rot” component, and merciful because the effect of it was ultimately deeply consoling. On the other side lay clarity, truth, solace and a very rare kind of nourishment. People were strengthened by it. They felt nourished not only by his writing but also by his presence .. he had an uncanny quality, which enabled people who came in contact with him to feel more fully themselves.

I’ve been thinking a lot about how he did this.

He did it because his own “struggle towards beauty from the abominable depths of misery” – and that’s in the diary – gave a kind of consent to others to harness misery in the same way, and to value beauty in the same way.

I suspect – in fact I know – that the intensity of his presence and consciousness was honed by those decades of daily journal writing.

He was also very, very funny – and would send up the whole enterprise at any given moment.

And one thing that may not come across sufficiently in the Diary is Stephen’s wittiness. To remind you of his wit, I will end with a tiny anecdote. In his last weeks, a friend came to see him, not someone who is here tonight, but someone, I confess, of my own profession who has been an important figure to Stephen, and vice versa. After the visit I was asking Stephen how it had been and I must have asked whether things had “gone deep” as they usually did with this person. “Yes,” he said. And then added, as he walked away, “so deep it had me longing for the shallows”.

Which brings to mind the image of Stephen’s distinctive stroke making its way across the aquamarine edge of the ocean.

That “longing for the shallows” may be what happens when psychotherapists go on for too long – so I will hand over to those more used to being on the stage.

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What are YOUR Books of the Year?

As the year winds down, media houses and readers are reflecting on their reading choices and perhaps even choosing a favourite.

Books LIVE is keen to know what you’ve been reading, and what you’ve enjoyed the best, bot local and international. Let us know!

Let us know on Facebook:

Or Twitter (@BooksLIVESA):

Or in the comments below (sign up for commenting HERE):

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King Pie Writing Competition for South African Youth

King Pie Competiton

King Pie, Heart 104.5 FM and Kaya FM have partnered to launch the “Amazwi Ethu South African Tales” literature talent search. The competition calls for South African youth to write and submit a short story, poem, haiku, fairytale or legend about South Africa, and the top stories will win cash prizes, laptops and more. The winning stories will be compiled and and published by Penguin Books.

The competition kicks off on the 16th of April, and entries close on the 19th of June. Entries will be judged by a panel comprising a celebrity, King Pie, radio representatives and Penguin Books. The published book will be available from all King Pie stores from October.

“South Africa is a culturally rich and diverse country and the campaign aims to tap into the heritage of storytelling,” notes Nicholas Kühne, marketing manager of King Pie. “A competition such as this not only allows a record of our culturally diverse stories, but also invests in individuals who have the talent but not necessarily the means to develop further.”

“Kaya FM is proud to support the Amazwi Ethu initiative and continues to espouse the importance of education as well as the value of understanding one’s cultural heritage and rooting. The revival and preservation of undocumented or untold South African stories is important in understanding more about ourselves, our respective histories and cultural perspectives. It is also essential in inspiring a culture of reading and writing with children of all ages,” adds Mark Mdlela, marketing and sales manager Kaya FM.

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Zuma’s Bastard Cover Competition: Vote Now!

Alert! The cover competition launched by Two Dogs for Azad Essa’s forthcoming book, Zuma’s Bastard, has reached the voting stage.

Thirteen potential covers make up the longlist, and have been posted to the Zuma’s Bastard Facebook Page for viewing and voting. Everyone who votes stands the chance of winning the published book for free. Here’s how it works:

  • View all 13 covers
  • Send your top five entry numbers to along with your name and contact number
  • Sit back and wait for the announcement of the shortlist of five covers, coming sometime soon

Pretty easy!

Here’s a snapshot of the thirteen covers in contention – click the image to see them individually:

Zumas Bastard Covers

And here’s the press release from Two Dogs:

Voting Open for the Two Dog’s Cover Competion for Azad Essa’s Zuma’s Bastard
Good luck to the longlistees!

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PANSA Cape Town Live Festival: Lauren Beukes and Sam Wilson's Twitter Play on NOW

PANSA Ct LiveAlert! The Performing Arts Network of South Africa (PANSA)’s Cape Town Live Festival is now on! Currently, BOOK SA members Lauren Beukes and Sam Wilson have the virtual stage, and are performing a play on Twitter; follow #ctlive for the latest PANSA Cape Town Live Festival offerings (see search box directly below), and follow #cwz for Beukes’ and Wilsons’ contributions.

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Here is more information on the PANSA Cape Town Live festival from the organisation’s website:

ONLINE FESTIVAL for Cape Town’s performing artists !

!! STAND A CHANCE TO WIN R 10 000 !!

As part of the 1st Cape Town Live! festival, which aims to bring the internet closer to all those in the performing arts in the Western Cape, we have lined up a week full of activities and challenges.

So get together with a few friends, live or online and create pieces of live performance for the web. And remember, you are doing this for a good cause – as the winning piece of each day will be passed on to the final competition (FINAL BYTE) on Sunday where they stand a chance of winning R10 000!

Here is the schedule in brief:

Look below for more details about each day.
Together with this we are running the OFFLINE-ONLINE-LIVE competition (collaborators needed!) where participants collaborate online to create and perform a piece on our Sunday FINAL BYTE night. You can check in on their progress at any time during the week through the PANSA website.

Each day’s entries will be judged by YOU the internet audience, so you must vote for your favourite piece each day to carry them through to the final.

And at the end of it, for the FINAL BYTE on Sunday the 28th of Feb,
we meet at LiquidLime Studios and watch the best of the best
to select the people’s choice for the best online-live piece,
which will walk away with R10 000.
For any further queries contact or visit our website
Check out our Facebook FAN page ( PANSA) and follow our tweets on @pansatweet.
All Week – Offline/Online/Live
Teams collaborate to create a 15 minute live performance.  Trick is – they can only meet and rehearseONLINE!.  Their 1st live meeting and performance in Sunday 28th Feb on FINAL BYTE NIGHT!

Monday – Tweet a Play- 22nd Feb 2010

Your team has to write a short one act play – live and online using only tweets!

Tuesday – Trailer Tuesday – 23rd Feb 2010

Create a visual or audio trailer for your live performance (concert, dance piece, play).

Wednesday – Digital Response – 24th Feb 2010

In the morning, we will display an extract – an image – a video clip – a website – a piece of text. Your task will be to create a bit of live performance in response to this. Your live performance can take the form of spoken text, a movement piece, or pieces of music – but can also be a piece of written script…whatever, as long as you can record it and send it through to us.

Thursday – LessonPOD – 25th Feb 2010

Create a 10 minute (max) audio podcast during which you teach the internet population about any subject in performance art. Educate and entertain, give us a day in the life of Shakespeare, an extract from the Greek theatre, a talk on Artaud, a voice lesson, a class on rhythm….

Friday – Stream IN / Stream OUT – 26th Feb 2010

A special day in which we use internet technologies to broadcast our work worldwide. We give you a location, you arrive with your live performance bit, and we will stream your performance out to the masses.

Saturday – Urban Players – 27th Feb 2010

Teams are given three extracts of text from plays. Find a public space anywhere in Cape Town or the Western Cape and perform your three pieces. Capture with your camera phone and submit it to us.

Cape Town Live! brought to you by
Department of Economic Development and Tourism
Cape Town Live! A challenge from PANSA Western Cape…

Cape Town Live! is a project currently running
in the Western Cape - however anyone can join in our PANSA Challenge:

Are you Online Literate?

Over the month of February we will be setting challenges based on basic on-line tools that you can use to enhance your career, or just to have on-line fun.


Follow us on @pansatweet and we’ll share your performing arts news, and keep you up to date.

Challenge Number 3: We want to SEE YOU !

So you’ve emailed us, you’ve become our fan on facebook…now we want to see YOU – send an url linking to your profile or work online to line for email – “LINK

Challenge Number 2: Facebook!

The next step is to become a fan of ours on Facebook – and if you are a member and have your own fanpage there please let us know about it so we can become fans of you.

Challenge Number 1: Join the Challenge!

Send an email to : with 100% Live! in the subject line

… That’s it: easy, hey?

Click here to see who has taken up the Challenge and follow their progress.

More about Cape Town Live!

These days if you’re not online, you’re missing out. On connecting with people, on job opportunities, on global audiences and opportunities. This month, PANSA would like to help you become “100% Live” – and we’ll be challenging ourselves too.

Here’s how it works:

During the month of February we will be offering workshops, discussions, webinars, discounted services and so much more.
Alongside that we are running a challenge to all our members to take time to focus on your online presence. We want you to be emailing, facebooking, blogging, twittering, writing, showcasing your work on You Tube and podcasts.

At the end of the month, we’ll be hosting an online festival to showcase Cape Town to the world.
We’re running incredible workshops every week !

Click here to read full
Cape Town Live! Release

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Merry Xmas! Give Yourself the Gift of a Facebook Book App

Alert! This Xmas, helps you stuff your virtual stocking with the top 50 book applications on Facebook. Go ahead, spoil yourself!

Top 50 book apps on Facebook

Bookworms today are just as much Internet geeks as they are rabid readers. There are countless book blogs, social networking sites, book swap communities and other social platforms for book junkies online, and Facebook is one of them. The mega-site’s collection of applications include these awesome tools for sharing, listing, recommending, reviewing and selling books, so let yourself go crazy.


With these apps, you can organize, share and swap reading lists right from your profile.

  1. Visual Bookshelf: This popular app lets you recommend books, catalog your own list and more.
  2. Endless Book List: Everyone can submit their favorite books and pieces about how those books affected them with this app.
  3. Banned Book Reading List: Assign friends banned books to read and count the curse words in each one.
  4. I’m Reading: This is a book reviewing community app that also lets you host your own reading lists and check out what friends are reading.
  5. aNobii Books: This app connects you with like-minded friends and readers based on your reading list.
  6. Booktagger: Booktagger is a useful tool for listing books and organizing book clubs through Facebook.
  7. Bookshare: Add to your profile what you’re currently reading, and manage book lists with this app.
  8. Books: Review books by rating them, and share your lists with friends.
  9. Goodreads: The social networking site Goodreads also has a Facebook app for readers to organize favorite books and talk about them with other readers.
  10. weRead: You can use this app to take reading quizzes, give and get recommendations, read reviews, join a book club, and share your reading lists.

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Petina Gappah: Don't Call Me an "African Writer"

An Elegy for EasterlyPetina GappahAlert! As was reported in the Sunday Independent at the start of the week, Switzerland-based Zimbabwean author Petina Gappah said she did not see herself as solely or specifically an “African writer” when accepting the Guardian First Book Award (which she won at the start of the month) – implying that “writer” alone will do just fine, thank you very much.

What are your thoughts on the “African writer” rubric?

(For those looking for material that previously appeared on this post, it’s been removed due to a misunderstanding. Sorry!)

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Deal Watch: K Sello Duiker's Novels to be Translated into German, French, Norwegian and Arabic

The Quiet Violence of DreamsThirteen CentsThe Hidden StarAlert! This notice about the late K Sello Duiker’s novels from Isobel Dixon via Facebook:

Strong foreign interest in the late K. Sello Duiker’s novels has resulted in sales of THIRTEEN CENTS to France (Editions Yago), Norway (Solum) and Egypt (GEBO) as well as of THE QUIET VIOLENCE OF DREAMS to Germany (Das Wunderhorn).

THE QUIET VIOLENCE OF DREAMS, which was longlisted for IMPAC Literary Award 2003, is a daring novel giving a startling account of contemporary South African urban culture. From the corridors of the Valkenberg mental hospital, to the strange comfort of the male escort agency he works for, Tshepho’s story is raw, powerful and original. It was first published in South Africa in English by Kwela Books in 2001 and was also translated into Dutch by De Geus in 2003.

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The First Ever Cape Town Spoken Word Festival Hits the Baxter Theatre

Cape Town Spoken WordTebaCape Town will hold its first ever Spoken Word Festival in November at the Baxter Theatre in Rondebosch this week. Participants include the acclaimed South African actress Quanita Adams as Master of Ceremonies, Reggae artist Teba, as well as Rus Nerwich and the Imaginative Collective.

The fest runs from 17 to 21 November and tickets can be purchased at Computicket.

A real feast for the ears and the eyes:

Cape Town’s first dedicated Spoken Word Festival runs from the 17th to the 21st of November 2009 at the Baxter Theatre, Cape Town.
The festival will showcase all forms of Spoken Word including performance poetry, musical poetry with a hint of comedy and storytelling. It boasts a number of interesting collaborations and features beat-box masters backing poetry, musicians who provide original scores to riveting stories and social commentary fired off in rapid rhyme.

Image of Teba courtesy Zula Sound Bar

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