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Aspiring authors: Don't miss Jacana Media's new creative writing Masterclass series

Invitation to Jacana Media's Writing Masterclasses


Jacana Media will be running a series of Masterclasses for aspiring writers in 2016.

All Masterclasses will be held on a Thursday at the Jacana offices in Auckland Park, Johannesburg, and are held by a published author or publisher.

The cost of the class includes a copy of the author’s latest book.

Diarise these dates now!

Masterclass Details

  • Venue: Jacana Media
    10 Orange Street
    Auckland Park
    Johannesburg | Map
  • Cost: R60 for students and pensioners, R100 for adults (includes a copy of the author’s latest book)
  • RSVP: Janine Daniel,

Bitches' BrewZulu Boy Gone Crazy: Hilarious Tales Post Polokwane

  • Masterclass Presenter: Fred Khumalo
  • Date: Thursday, 25 February 2016
  • Time: 5:30 PM for 6:00 PM

The Book of WarWalk

  • Masterclass Presenter: James Whyle
  • Date: Thursday, 31 March 2016
  • Time: 5:30 PM for 6:00 PM

What Will People Say

  • Masterclass Presenter: Rehana Rossouw
  • Date: Thursday, 21 April 2016
  • Time: 5:30 PM for 6:00 PM

Dub Steps

  • Masterclass Presenter: Andrew Miller
  • Date: Thursday, 26 May 2016
  • Time: 5:30 PM for 6:00 PM


  • Masterclass Presenter: Klara Skinner
  • Date: Thursday, 30 June 2016
  • Time: 5:30 PM for 6:00 PM

Sweet Medicine

  • Masterclass Presenter: Panashe Chigumadzi
  • Date: Thursday, 28 July 2016
  • Time: 5:30 PM for 6:00 PM

To Every Birth Its BloodRevelations

  • Masterclass Presenter: Mongane Wally Serote
  • Date: Thursday, 25 August 2016
  • Time: 5:30 PM for 6:00 PM

African DelightsWhen a Man Cries

  • Masterclass Presenter: Siphiwo Mahala
  • Date: Thursday, 29 September 2016
  • Time: 5:30 PM for 6:00 PM

Book Details

Sudanese-American poet Safia Elhillo wins 2016 Sillerman First Book Prize for African Poets

The Promise of HopeSeven New Generation African PoetsMadman at KalifiThe Kitchen-Dweller's TestimonyFuchsia

Alert! Sudanese-American poet Safia Elhillo has been named the winner of the 2016 Sillerman First Book Prize for African Poets for her manuscript, Asmarani.

The Sillerman First Book Prize is coordinated by the African Poetry Book Fund, with the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s literary journal, Prairie Schooner. These two organisations also run the Glenna Luschei Prize for African Poetry, which was won in January by South African poet Kobus Moolman.

Elhillo will receive a $1 000 cash prize and publication of her manuscript as part of the African Poetry Book Series by the University of Nebraska Press, to be released in 2017.

The judging panel for the Sillerman Prize is made up of the African Poetry Book Fund’s editorial board, including Chris Abani, Bernardine Evaristo, Matthew Shenoda, Gabeba Baderoon, John Keene and Kwame Dawes, who also serves as director of the African Poetry Book Fund and Prairie Schooner editor-in-chief.

The Secret History of Las VegasMr LovermanTahrir SuiteA hundred silencesCounternarrativesDuppy Conqueror

South African poet Baderoon says of Elhillo’s manuscript: “The poems demonstrate a riveting sense of the power of language. They are alert to history and formally compelling as well.

“There is an alluring sense of wholeness to the collection. The themes flow convincingly from poem to poem, and the voice is so confident that I trust the speaker to lead me through sensitive and risky territory.”

From African Poetry Book Fund:

Safia Elhillo is Sudanese by way of Washington, DC. A Cave Canem fellow and poetry editor at Kinfolks Quarterly, she received an MFA in poetry from the New School. Safia is a Puschcart Prize nominee and joint winner of the 2015 Brunel University African Poetry Prize. Her chapbook, also titled Asmarani, is forthcoming as part of New Generation African Poets: A Chapbook Box Set (Tatu), from the African Poetry Book Fund with Akashic Books. Her work has also appeared in several publications and in the anthologies The BreakBeat Poets: New American Poetry in the Age of Hip-Hop and Again I Wait for This to Pull Apart.

African Poetry Book Fund also shared an excerpt from the poem “Date Night with Abdelhalim Hafez,” a celebrated Egyptian singer in the mid-20th century to whom many of the poems are addressed:

i’m not looking for anything serious       just someone to watch
my plants when i’m gone       [you can sing now if you want to]
they’re worried no one will marry me       i have an accent in every language


The 2015 winner of the Sillerman First Book Prize was Mahtem Shiferraw, whose book Fuchsia will be released in April. Ladan Osman won the 2014 edition, and her book The Kitchen Dweller’s Testimony was published in spring 2015, while the inaugural winner of the prize was Clifton Gachagua, whose book Madman at Kilifi was released in 2014.

The prize does not have a set number of finalists, but as Dawes explains: “Each year a few manuscripts become serious contenders for the top award and those are important enough for us to name them as finalists. This year there were six such collections, including the winning manuscript. This is very exciting for African poetry.”

The five finalists for the 2016 Sillerman First Book Prize this year are Nick Makoha, born in Uganda and living in London, for his manuscript Kingdom of Gravity; DM Aderibigbe, of Nigeria, for his manuscript Becoming My Mother’s Son; Viola Allo, born in Cameroon and living in California, for her manuscript Schoolgirl from Cameroon; Shittu Fowora, of Nigeria, for his manuscript Touch Machines; and Nebeolisa Okwudili, of Nigeria, for his manuscript Country.

“We are especially excited to have had a good showing of women poets in our general pool and among our finalists,” Dawes says. “We continue to be proactive about seeking out and encouraging women to complete and submit manuscripts for consideration.”

Submissions for the 2017 Sillerman First Book Prize for African Poets will open September 1. Manuscripts by African poets who have not yet published a full-length collection are eligible.

To learn more about the African Poetry Book Fund and its initiatives, visit its website or stay connected on Twitter or Facebook.

More information about Prairie Schooner is available here.

The Sillerman Prize is sponsored by philanthropists Laura and Robert FX Sillerman.

Related stories:

Book details

  • Seven New Generation African Poets: A Chapbook boxed set by Ladan Osman, TJ Dema, Clifton Gachagua, Tsitsi Jaji, Nick Makoha, Warsan Shire, Len Verwey, edited by Chris Abani, Kwame Dawes
    EAN: 9781940646589
    Find this book with BOOK Finder!

Image courtesy of the African Poetry Book Fund

Antjie Krog and Fiona Moodie pay homage to one of the natural wonders of the world with Fynbos Fairies

Fynbos FairiesFynbosfeetjiesUmuzi is delighted to present Fynbos Fairies, with poems by Antjie Krog and illustrations by Fiona Moodie:

It is for its fynbos – fine-leaved, shrub-like vegetation – that the southwestern and southern Cape has been named one of the world’s six plant kingdoms: the Cape Floral Kingdom. At less than 90 000 square kilometres, it is the smallest floral kingdom on earth. Yet it is home to 8 600 plant species, some 5 000 of which occur nowhere else in the world.

Fynbos is a mixture of four plant types: protea shrubs, heath-like ericas, reed-like restios and different bulbous plants. The Cape Floral Kingdom contains 69 of the world’s 112 proteas, 526 of its 740 ericas and, among bulbous plants, 96 of the world’s 160 gladiolus species. Table Mountain alone boasts almost 1 500 fynbos species.

With Fynbos Fairies Krog and Moodie, both of whom regularly walk on the slopes of Table Mountain, pay homage to one of the natural wonders of the world. Inspired by Cicely Mary Barker’s A World of Flower Fairies, Krog began the process by writing poems that each featured a plant and at least one imaginary little being.

Moodie meticulously researched the features of each plant, insect and little animal depicted in these pages. The fairies and other imaginary beings in these pages are her own creations, but the flowers and creatures she copied from nature.

Also available in Afrikaans as Fynbosfeetjies

About the authors

Antjie Krog, one of the country’s most prominent poets, made her debut while still in high school. Since then, she has published 11 volumes of poetry, two of them collections of children’s verse: Mankepank en ander monsters and Voëls van anderste vere.

She is the author of the acclaimed Country of My Skull, as well as A Change of Tongue, which appeared in Afrikaans as ’n Ander tongval, and Begging to Be Black. She has also published a novela, a play and three poetry collections in English.

Her work has been translated into Arabic, Dutch, English, French, German, Italian, Serbian, Spanish and Swedish. She holds four honorary doctorates and has been awarded the Eugène Marais Prize, the Rapport Prize, the Hertzog Prize, the rau Prize, the Elisabeth Eybers Prize, an ATKV prize and an award for excellence in translation from the South African Translators’ Institute.

She and her husband, John Samuel, live in Cape Town, where she is Extraordinary Professor at the University of the Western Cape.

Fiona Moodie has traveled widely and lived in various European countries before returning with her husband and twin daughters to settle in Cape Town in 1992. Fynbos Fairies is one of 15 children’s books she has illustrated since 1979, when Bohem Press in Zurich published Benjamin Rocking Horse. She has also written the text for all but six of these books.

Her children’s books have apeared in numerous countries, among them China, Denmark, the Faroe Islands, France, Holland, Italy, Japan, Norway, South Korea, Spain, the United Kingdom, the United States and, of course, South Africa – and in many languages. In 1996, Nabulela, her eighth book, was published locally in seven languages.

Her illustrations have been shown at major venues, including: Galerie MAAG – Zurich; International Youth Library – Munich; Metropolitan Museum of Modern Art – New York; Museo Nacional de Artes Decorativos – Madrid; Habashi Museum of Art – Tokyo; Centro Culturale di Esposizione – Venice; Bibliothéque Mèjanes – Aix-en-Provence; and Centre Georges Pompidou – Paris.

In 2000 she received the SAPPI Prize for Atlantis Rises and in 2010 the MER Prize for best illustrated book. She was awarded the UNICEF South African Early Childhood Development Award for Best Author in 2015, and in the same year received the Media24 prize for best illustrated children’s book of 2014.

Book details

Ishtiyaq Shukri calls for UK, US and South Africa to reassess Saudi ties after 'inhumane' punishment of poet Ashraf Fayadh

Ashraf Fayadh

Yesterday it was announced that a Saudi Arabian court had altered the death sentence for Palestinian poet Ashraf Fayadh to an eight-year prison term and 800 lashes on charges of apostasy.

Ishtiyaq Shukri, author of the 2004 European Union Literary Award-winning novel The Silent Minaret and I See You, campaigned strongly against Fayadh’s death sentence. In a piece he has shared with Books LIVE, Shukri says his relief on hearing of its reversal was short-lived.


Read the piece:

* * * * *

Reduced sentence and flogging of Ashraf Fayadh

Like all those who campaigned against the death sentence handed down to the Palestinian poet Ashraf Fayadh by a court in Saudi Arabia last year, I was at first relieved when I heard that the death sentence had been quashed. But my sense of relief was brief, dissipating instantly in the face of the reduced sentence of eight years in prison and 800 lashes. Who survives 800 lashes? The Saudi blogger, Raif Badawi, sentenced to 10 years and 1 000 lashes, thought it was a miracle he survived the first 50 lashes. Badawi remains in prison, where the remaining 950 lashes are still to be administered – 50 lashes, every Friday, for 19 weeks, once lashing resumes.

These punishments are protracted death sentences drawn out to extend over many years. They are cruel, horrific and unacceptable punishments, which detract from our shared humanity and diminish us all. I can’t recall feeling such relief and such dread so simultaneously and in such equal measure. In a single moment upon receiving the news of Fayadh’s reduced sentence, I inhaled hope but exhaled despair at the ordeal handed down to Fayadh. What conflicting emotions must Fayadh himself have felt? Where is the mercy in that?

The responsibility for such inhumanity as that, which faces Fayadh, rests primarily with Saudi Arabia, but not exclusively. Responsibility for such human rights abuses in the kingdom must also be placed with its allies and trading partners, among others, the United States, the United Kingdom and South Africa, which is actively stepping up trade ties with Saudi Arabia. It is time for all of them to rethink their positions, and to ask crucial moral questions about their continued allegiance with the kingdom.

Examples of Saudi hubris, excess and exceptionalism are mounting. The ongoing Saudi-led war in Yemen – being enabled with US and British weapons and military expertise – the mass executions of 47 people including Sheikh Nimr Al Nimr in Saudi Arabia last month, the ongoing detention of human rights activists like Raif Badawi in the kingdom, and now this inhumane revised punishment handed down to Fayadh, should serve as prompts for men and women of conscience around the world to reassess their ties with Saudi Arabia the brutal, Saudi Arabia the merciless. Where people of good conscience lead, corporations and governments must be made to follow.

Ishtiyaq Shukri
3 February 2016

Image credit: PEN South Africa

Call for submissions for the PEN South Africa Student Writing Prize - topic: #FeesMustFall

From PEN South Africa:

PEN South Africa is a writers’ organisation that defends freedom of expression and promotes literature. We believe in the power of writing to effect change and inform the way we see the world and ourselves. With this in mind we are holding the PEN South Africa Student Writing Prize, which calls on young writers to submit fiction, creative non-fiction or poetry on the topic of the recent #FeesMustFall movement and the student protests.

Students across South Africa have been making their collective voices heard through the #FeesMustFall movement but there are undoubtedly many individual stories that have yet to be told and we want to hear them.

The winning writer will receive R5 000 and will get the chance to attend a seminar at the University of the Witwatersrand, followed by a prizegiving. The seminar aims to encourage public discourse around freedom of expression and will examine the role the media has played in the #FeesMustFall movement.

Entries must be a maximum of 5 000 words and entrants must be under 30 years old and currently living in South Africa.

Please include your name, contact details and a copy of your ID and send entries (one per person) to by 29 February, 2016.

Note: Worldwide copyright of each entry remains with the author, but PEN SA will have the unrestricted right to publish entries in an e-anthology, in print, on the website, and in any relevant promotional material.

Reduced sentence and flogging for Palestinian poet Ashraf Fayadh 'wholly unacceptable' - PEN SA



From PEN South Africa:

A Saudi Arabian court on 2 February replaced a death sentence for Palestinian poet Ashraf Fayadh with an eight-year prison term and 800 lashes on charges of apostasy.

Since a death sentence was handed down on 20 November 2015, PEN has campaigned for Fayadh’s immediate and unconditional release in the belief that his charges are simply for exercising his rights to freedom of expression and freedom of belief.

PEN International executive director Carles Torner says: “Instead of rightfully acquitting and releasing poet Ashraf Fayadh, today the Saudi courts have simply prolonged this injustice by imposing a lengthy prison sentence and abhorrent physical punishment. Ashraf Fayadh has already served time in prison simply for exercising his legitimate right to freedom of expression – we will continue to press the Saudi authorities for his immediate release.”

Fayadh, a Palestinian poet and member of British-Saudi art organisation Edge of Arabia, was first detained in August 2013 in relation to his collection of poems, Instructions Within. He was released on bail but rearrested in January 2014, accused of “atheism and spreading some destructive thoughts into society”, before being sentenced in May 2014.

On 27 November, 2015, over 1 000 poets and writers from around the world, including Adonis, Paul Muldoon and Charles Simić, signed a letter calling for his release, which was published alongside an open letter from International freedom of expression organisations. On 14 January, 2015, PEN Centres took part in a worldwide reading of Fayadh’s poetry, which took place in more than 40 countries.

PEN South Africa took part in the worldwide reading in support of Ashraf Fayadh, watch the readings here.

Image credit: PEN South Africa