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This is the LitNet archive (2006–2012)
Visit the active LitNet platform at www.litnet.co.za


 
Menings | Opinion > SeminaarKamer | Seminar Room > English > Mini-seminars

Mini-seminars


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All PEN centres adhere to the PEN charter
Naomi Meyer - 2011-12-08
Untitled Document Margie, as executive vice-president of South African PEN, could you please explain to LitNet readers how you see South African PEN’s relationship with PEN International and Pretoria-PEN respectively? All PEN centres (144 of them) are autonomous and make up the body of PEN International, to which member centres in good standing pay annual dues. Pretoria-PEN is, therefore, an autonomous centre. All PEN centres adhere to the PEN charter – a simple and direct document...

The Franschhoek Literary Festival: Clutching at mist
Fiona Snyckers - 2011-05-27
Attempting to grapple with Fred de Vries’s article “Franschhoek Literary Festival as a satire” is like clutching at mist. Just when you think you’ve pinned him down, he limbos off in another direction. By the last paragraph your head is spinning slightly with contradictions, U-turns and blind alleyways. De Vries opens strongly with what appears to be a swipe at the smugness of the writers at the festival – the “Men and Women of Letters” who received “a...

The Franschhoek Literary Festival: Think, feel, imagine
Lynda Gilfillan - 2011-05-27
So, what’s new, Fred? And why the either/or? C’mon: most young people prefer to live their own lives to reading about fictional lives – and those who do read would probably enjoy Lane Smith’s It’s a Book. It playfully and artfully subverts many assumptions of the digital age. The ageist/race thing is passé, too. Of course older white people (like me) with more leisure and disposable income are the more likely consumers of literary culture. But surely, by now,...

Franschhoek Literary Festival: The song of the dinosaur
Michiel Heyns - 2011-05-25
Untitled Document Fred de Vries’s hatchet job/elegy on the Franschhoek Literary Festival is a masterly piece of writing – or Writing, as he might prefer to call it. As a Writer, a middle-aged white male one, nogal, there is little for me to say but Guilty as Charged. Yes, his description both of the illusory pleasures of Franschhoek (“a revitalising bath, some wholesome food and a heartfelt pat on the back”) and of the writing life (“life behind a desk, with the odd...

Franschhoek Literary Festival as a satire
Fred de Vries - 2011-05-24
Untitled Document The Franschhoek Literary Festival (FLF) is not a bookfest, it’s a tribute to the old-style Writer, a celebration of the ancient Analogue world. It’s an event that offers the Men and Women of Letters, those who’ve swayed and sweated for years, a revitalising bath, some wholesome food and a heartfelt pat on the back. For a few days they are fêted and allowed to bask in the glow of admiring readers in a beautiful town, surrounded by blue mountains and endless...

Are South African critics too soft?
Phillippa Yaa de Villiers - 2010-12-03
Language is not neutral and everything we say is steeped in our historical/political context. Critics stand between the work and the audience and in South Africa I often feel that the word criticism is not well understood: it is taken as meaning "disapproval", which is only one interpretation of the word. Criticism is also the "practice of analysing, classifying, interpreting, or evaluating literary or other artistic works", which requires more from the critic than just a "this is not my taste so...

Are South African critics too soft?
Richard de Nooy - 2010-12-03
When I first started blogging, I decided to review the books of authors I had met while promoting my own book in South Africa. I opted to write open letters, mainly because this ensured a more personal touch and greater sensitivity to the feelings of the authors. By posing questions or raising issues about their books, I hoped to prompt discussion. In some instances, this proved highly successful, sparking to a broad overview of opinions that offered new insight. In other instances, the attention...

Are South African book critics too soft?
Moira Richards - 2010-12-03
Are South African book critics too soft? Or is it that South African authors and publishers are too soft? Is it that South African authors, publishers and reviewers don’t understand the nature of book reviewing and are also unwilling to unpack and debate the subject? Not to repeat what I’ve said before about reviewing and the reluctance of authors and publishers to engage with what reviewers write, I’ll focus now on a redressing of the supposed writer-reviewer divide. (Although,...

Are South African critics too soft?
Rosemund J Handler - 2010-12-02
Some South African critics make little or no attempt to judge a book objectively, according to its literary merits. They offer few insights into the theme, characters and possible message of the work; in some cases the review could be written by admiring friends of the writer. Other reviews are poorly written and ill-informed; still others more closely resemble a personal attack rather than literary analysis. Colour and gender are major factors when it comes to reviewing space: white females, for...

Are South African critics too soft?
Karabo Kgoleng - 2010-12-02
JCW asked the same question at Franschhoek earlier this year on her panel “Reviewing the Reviewers”. I was on the panel. There is space for constructive criticism of a book or piece of art without crucifying the artist. There is too little space in our media for exposure as it is; to use it all up crapping on others’ work is not on. If I really don’t like something I prefer not to cover it at all. Having said that, there is no accounting for taste and that is what a reviewer...

Are South African critics too soft?
Helen Moffett - 2010-12-02
Among the worst debacles I saw this year (leading to cancelled friendships, etc) were folk responding angrily or passionately to bad reviews, or even just one critical line in an otherwise good review. Unless you have actually been slandered in a review (as I was in 2008 in a local paper, which later set things right via their ombudsman), or a reviewer admits in the review to not having read/finished the book (this actually happened in the case of Lauren Beukes’s Zoo City – and...

Are South African critics too soft?
Zukiswa Wanner - 2010-12-02
Having been both a writer and a critic I found the debate very interesting (I saw the original when Fiona brought it up.) In being critical I am always anxious to criticise in such a way that future works are made better. Jabulile Ngwenya’s I Ain't Yo Bitch was one such a text. I felt that the text showed much promise for the teen reader but what it lacked was a good content edit – and this was by no means the fault of the author but rather of the editor and/or publisher. I have, however,...

Are South African critics too soft?
Gary Cummiskey - 2010-12-02
First of all, Fiona has some very valid points. A couple of years ago, when I first started writing for The Bookseller in the UK, I wrote a piece saying how wonderful it was that South African readers were beginning to read and positively respond to South African writers and were finally shedding that colonial mindset that dictates that anything not produced in "the mother country" is probably inferior. However, I also sounded a warning, right at the end, that in our enthusiasm we should not lose...

Are South African critics too soft?
Isabella Morris - 2010-12-02
Who are the reviewers? Academics, journalists, housewives, readers, writers? Important to know, because these perspectives shape and colour the review. It isn’t a question of whether reviewers are too soft or even too harsh. It’s more a case of some reviewers not understanding their role, which is to inform readers / would-be readers about the book. Publications should avoid using reviewers whose ego gets in the way of their job of reviewing. As a reader I basically want a brief idea...

Are South African critics too soft?
Janet van Eeden - 2010-12-02
This is a difficult question. Would anyone really want reviewers to launch into South African writers across the genres to prove how clever they are at dissecting and comparing their work with UK and USA literature? Would it serve any purpose to discourage the fle dgling literary and film industry? I think not. I have felt this way ever since I was first asked to review books and plays and occasionally films for the Witness. I was incensed by the vicious critiques critics meted out especially to...

Media gag or media power?
Chrisna du Plessis - 2010-12-01
I too am appalled at the proposed legislation and the roughshod manner in which the ruling party treats basic freedoms, the zeal with which they protect the interests of the party elite at the expense of the man in the street, and the utter arrogance of those in power that is matched only by their incompetence. We can all point out rationally that the proposed legislation flies in the face of everything the Constitution and the Freedom Charter stand for, but the ANC has long ago lost its capacity...

Big Book Chain Chat #21: On writing, on Winnie the Pooh, electric blankets and the importance of wearing a panty
Joanne Hichens - 2010-11-23
A friend calls me, says, “Did you see the headlines of Die Son today? ‘Woman arrested without panty!’” she hoots. As an aspiring crime-fiction writer resident in a bizarrely crime-ridden Cape Town, no wonder I take my inspiration from what happens out there before I put it through the wringer to create fiction. Writing, for me, is less of a shoowah and more of a keeping my arse glued to the chair type of effort, in a darkened space, staring at the blank screen while I intermittently...

Big Book Chain Chat #19: Judging a book by its cover – The decline of a reading culture and the danger of little knowledge
Jameson Maluleke - 2010-11-10
Way back in the seventies it took a parent or a guardian in a rural setting six months to a year to buy a prescribed book which cost a mere R2,50. Textbooks were scarce. Sometimes our shopkeeper ran out of stock or the publisher took months to deliver. I still cannot figure out how we pupils managed to become bookworms. It must surely be due to divine intervention that we became avid readers. When one of us managed to obtain a novel, we devoured it until it was in tatters. On becoming students at...

Big Book Chain Chat #18: Some notes on delving
Louis Greenberg - 2010-11-10
As the next link in this Big Book Chain Chat, I’m very lucky to be following Craig Higginson’s piece, “Is it Possible to do too Much Research?” because I agree fully with him and won’t have to build a compelling counter-argument. Higginson’s approach to research in fiction is brave for a historical novelist. As he notes, many writers in the genre are so keen to show off how much they’ve read about the period that they bog their stories down in detail. Readers...

Big Book Chain Chat #17: Is it possible to do too much research?
Craig Higginson - 2010-11-03
I thought I’d raise something that concerns most writers but is seldom discussed in any detail: the matter of research. How important is it? One can clearly do too little. Can one also do too much? Some years ago, while I was working at a bookshop in Fulham Road, London, a greying, benevolent-looking man shuffled in. He bought some books, and when I swiped his card I noticed his name: Peter Shaffer. I asked him if he was the same man who had written Equus and Amadeus. He said he was. We got...

Big Book Chain Chat #16: Someone came knocking
Shaida Ali - 2010-10-29
Some one came knocking At my wee, small door; Some one came knocking, I'm sure – sure – sure; I listened, I opened, I looked to left and right, But naught there was a-stirring In the still dark night; Only the busy beetle Tap-tapping in the wall, Only from the forest The screech-owl's call, Only the cricket whistling While the dewdrops fall, So I know not who came knocking, At all, at all, at all. – Walter de la Mare (source) My mother...

Big Book Chain Chat #15: Sustaining creativity
Chris Marnewick - 2010-10-19
Helen Brain wrote: “So if you’re engaged in an everyday job that isn’t very satisfying, how do you keep your creativity fresh?” I can see the problem. Boredom at work may lead to boredom at home. And elsewhere. I would like to pose – and answer – the question turned on its head: Does being engaged in a satisfying and even challenging job facilitate creativity in your writing? It does. There seems to be a strange phenomenon at work here. I spend my working days...

Big Book Chain Chat #14: A quick read but certainly not fast food
Meg Vandermerwe - 2010-10-13
A few years ago I read an excellent article by the scholar and feminist Germaine Greer in which she condemned pornography, not simply because it debased and objectified women, but because it pandered to our increasing fast food culture. Pornography, for Greer, is the Big Mac of the love world: immediate satisfaction but zero nourishment. Those who “consume” pornography, Greer argued, ultimately leave the banquet feeling empty, with a greater hunger than they arrived with. What has this...

Big Book Chain Chat #13: To read or not to read ...
Harry Owen - 2010-10-07
There’s a debate going on in certain quarters at the moment – indeed it’s been going on in one form or another for a long time – about whether poetry readings in public are A Good Thing or A Bad Thing. And much academic discussion of this (pseudo or otherwise) centres on exactly what poetry is or is for. Zzzzzzzzzzzz! This is much like the argument that might be made about whether breathing is a good thing or a bad thing. On the whole, we tend not to consider the matter:...

Big Book Chain Chat #12: Sustaining creativity
Helen Brain - 2010-09-30
For most creative people there is a tension between doing what we love and the need to earn money. A few people have reached a place where these two things mesh, and some lucky people have a patron, but for most creatives it’s hard to find a balance between expressing creativeness and making a living. So if you’re engaged in an everyday job that isn’t very satisfying, how do you keep your creativity fresh? Here are some of the ways I’ve learned to keep the creative spring...

We object
Gaseope Motsepe - 2010-09-29


We object: The POIB and the MAT pose a deadly threat to our democracy
Dave Steward - 2010-09-28
The Protection of Information Bill (POIB) and the proposed Media Appeals Tribunal (MAT) are irreconcilable with the founding principles of openness, accountability and transparency upon which our constitutional democracy has been based. Section 16 of the Constitution guarantees freedom of expression which is limited only by the prohibition of propaganda for war; incitement of imminent violence; or advocacy of hatred that is based on race, ethnicity, gender or religion, and that constitutes incitement...

We object: Dragged back to the darkest days
Joe Latakgomo - 2010-09-28
I would like to record my opposition to the government’s planned media and freedom of speech gag, for that is what it is, and so join in petition to the government to desist from proceeding with plans to implement any law that will effectively proscribe the media and other published works from expressing their thoughts in a free manner as envisaged in the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa. I wish to call upon all right-thinking South Africans to oppose the planned Media Bill, and...

Writers against protection of information bill: Petition text in English, Afrikaans, Sepedi and Zulu
2010-09-27
WRITERS AGAINST PROTECTION OF INFORMATION BILL / MEDIA TRIBUNAL Freedom of expression along with the vote – universal suffrage – is the basis of democracy. Muzzling this freedom affects directly print and other media in the responsibility and necessity of their function, which is to keep citizens informed of all aspects that affect life in the country, whether by government edict, the law, economic practice, or the ethical standards of individual behaviour. Denial of freedom...

Big Book Chain Chat #11: Why I publish poetry
Colleen Higgs - 2010-09-22
First and foremost, I’m a passionate reader, and have read voraciously ever since I could. Starting Modjaji Books, and becoming an indie publisher, is a way of taking that passion to another level. I hope that it is possible for a small, niche press to thrive in this tough economic climate. I attempt to take each title on its own merit and find readers for it. In 2010, with the internet, e-books, Print on Demand, digital printing, Book SA, LitNet, Twitter, Facebook, blogs and other social networks,...

We object: Silenced?
Ingrid Andersen - 2010-09-22


We object
Rauwane Herman Motsomane - 2010-09-22
We strongly object to the legislation which is specifically meant to inhibit all bad deeds of those in power or get in the good books of those in power. It is a drastic step backward which places all citizens at risk of being arrested if they voice their dissatisfaction with the ruling party or expose corruption. The media is a tool to the taxpayers, citizens and voters to know and to evaluate the government they put in power. The tendering of everything as indicated by Minister Blade Nzimande is...

We Object: Are the media too free?
Carly Brown - 2010-09-21
I am a South African citizen currently living in the UK and I am concerned about both the proposed Media Tribunal and the Protection of Information Bill. Why would I care if I live in the UK? I plan to move back to South Africa next year, so these changes to media freedom will affect me directly. I may be concerned, but I am not sure where I stand with regard to the proposed changes. My initial reaction to the Bill and the Tribunal was distrust. I distrust the ANC’s motives for these changes...

Big Book Chain Chat #10: Editing
Helen Moffett - 2010-09-15
With total freedom to choose a topic, I find myself returning to a song I’ve been singing for many years – the question of editing and its quality. It’s no secret that I regularly bemoan the lack of (good) editing I see in locally published books (and books published abroad, but let’s stick to our own backyard for now). This afflicts all categories and genres of writing, but here my focus is quality fiction – so-called “literary” novels, short story collections,...

We object: Silenced?
Ingrid Andersen - 2010-09-13


The Present is Another Country
Peter D McDonald - 2010-09-13
It seems it began with justice and constitutional minister Jeff Radebe. In a speech titled “Democracy and Media Freedom”, which he gave at the 2010 Sanef Nat Nakasa Award dinner in Johannesburg at the end of July, he reassured “members of the Fourth Estate” that “as government we will not treat you the same way the apartheid regime treated Nat Nakasa. In other words, we will not enact laws detrimental to your cause.” After that the ghosts of the past were...

Big Book Chain Chat #9: Short stories
Arja Salafranca - 2010-09-08
In 2008 I researched and wrote an article on the genre of the short story for The Star. I opened with the opinion that “short stories are commonly called the Cinderellas of the literary world. Publishers complain that readers don’t buy short story collections, and so publish few volumes, then bookstores don’t stock them in great quantities. All around it seems to be a Catch-22 situation. But, are things changing? After years of drought, in which you found just a few local volumes...

We object
Frieda Groffy - 2010-09-04
Though I'm not a South African citizen, through my struggle from out of Belgium against apartheid and my visits during the last decade, South Africa became the “home of my soul”! As a poet myself I know how important freedom of speech and expression is – how poetry can become a weapon in the struggle, a voice to the voiceless, a basic right within a democracy! That is why I want to join all of you in this protest! Frieda Groffy Author of African footprints on my soul Please...

We object
Carol Allen-Payne - 2010-09-04
I wish to register my strongest objection to the planned Protection of Information Act. The Act will effectively catapult South Africa back to the apartheid era and is not fitting of a democratic country which honours freedom of speech and the right to information – a freedom implicitly enshrined in our Constitution. As an author and citizen I wish to express my strongest opposition against the proposed new legislation. Carol Allen-Payne Please feel free to comment on LitNet’s...

We object
Joe Latakgomo - 2010-09-04
I would like to record my opposition to the government’s planned media and freedom of speech gag, for that is what it is, and so join in petition to the government to desist from proceeding with plans to implement any law that will effectively proscribe the media and other published works from expressing their thoughts in a free manner as envisaged in the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa. I wish to call upon all right-thinking South Africans to oppose the planned Media Bill,...

Big Book Chain Chat #8: Closing the circle
Ingrid Andersen - 2010-09-02
As it turns out, I happened upon Richard de Nooy’s engaging post about the influences on his writing while I was in the process of thinking about my own. Richard wrote: I often feel uncomfortable when I am asked which authors or artists have inspired me. The only honest answer I can give is: all and none. I am a sponge, constantly absorbing the experiences of the real world and then gently squeezing out a trickle of fiction that looks and tastes real and clear, but only because all the imperfections...

We object
Leslie Stelfox - 2010-09-01
I would like to show my support for the freedom of speech enshrined in the Constitution. I would like to remind the government that they fought for this very freedom and some even paid with their lives! The struggle for genuine freedom thus still continues! Leslie Stelfox Please feel free to comment on LitNet’s letter page, SêNet, by sending a letter to webvoet@litnet.co.za. << Terug na Mediavryheid-indeksblad | Back to index << << Terug na miniseminare | Back...

We object
Marilyn Honikman - 2010-08-31
Please add my name to your protests at the proposed Media Tribunal. I spent a good deal of my life working for publishers whose publications were banned: Ravan Press, David Philip and The Weekly Mail. Those publications usually called for a new order with a free press. Now we have the new order we must keep the free press. Marilyn Honikman Please feel free to comment on LitNet’s letter page, SêNet, by sending a letter to webvoet@litnet.co.za. << Terug na Mediavryheid-indeksblad...

We object
Paul Sorensen - 2010-08-31


A dream deferred? Art and the quest for freedom: lessons for and from a democratic South Africa
Mike van Graan - 2010-08-31
A few years ago I wrote a play, called Green Man Flashing, about a senior cabinet minister in the ANC government who, six weeks before the 1999 elections, is alleged by his personal assistant to have raped her. If the charges reach the public domain there will be huge consequences for the party in the forthcoming elections and for the government’s efforts to attract FDI, in which the minister played a key role. So the party sends a delegation to the woman to persuade her not to go through...

We object: We get the government we deserve
Tai Krige - 2010-08-30
I don't really hold out much hope of stopping all this madness, since I believe we are much too late. The die has been cast. Everyone seems to have forgotten that it has already happened. The Film and Publications Amendment Act has been passed – long ago. We didn't stop that one, so how will we be able to stop these? It’s law, so who cares about the new threatening ones? No one. We are all totally useless. Complacency rules – and so does the ANC. So-o-o sad, another nail in the...

We object
Jan Andries Schaafsma - 2010-08-30
To whom it may concern Protection of Information Bill/Proposed Media Tribunal George Orwell's Animal Farm should be compulsory reading for every politician or would-be politician in the world. It is the clearest exposition of the process almost every so-called revolution in history has followed. South Africa, which was given the chance to make a fresh start in 1990, has squandered its opportunity to avoid the fate depicted in Animal Farm, and unfortunately we are now hovering on the brink...

We object
RM Summers - 2010-08-30


We object: Same shit, different colour
Juliana Venter - 2010-08-27
To whom it may concern As an Afrikaans-speaking actress having gone through the bad old days of apartheid, I am disappointed to see that it’s same shit, different colour. I mean really, I want to start producing films from Berlin, where I’m currently living, and start an exchange between Europe and the South African film industry in my own capacity. But why the fuck and how should I do that if I’m confronted with the same old totalitarian thinking the white folks had at home?...

We object: A disgrace to our hard-earned democracy founded on genuine freedoms
Jameson Maluleke - 2010-08-27
The proposed Media Tribunal is not only an insult to our Constitution, but also a disgrace to our hard-earned democracy founded on genuine freedoms. It is absurd for our short-sighted leaders to want to silence the media, thus rendering our renowned Constitution in a useless piece of paper. As the voice, eyes and ears of the nation, the media are there as a gauge and to warn the people whenever our national leaders start worshipping despotism. Let all living organisms stand up and trample...


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