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Visit the active LitNet platform at www.litnet.co.za

Menings | Opinion > Onderhoude | Interviews > English

Phillippa Yaa de Villiers on her experience of Poetry Africa

Janet van Eeden - 2011-11-09

Untitled Document

Monica Rorvik, Phillippa Yaa de Villiers and Liang Tingting
Photo: Patrice Treurthardt.

What did being invited to Poetry Africa mean to you?

It was a great honour and an opportunity to share ideas with brilliant minds from around the world.

Does having an event like Poetry Africa make poetry, a traditionally overlooked genre, more meaningful to the general public?

Most definitely; it reminds people that poets are writing dreams into reality, and of the enduring power of language to record every aspect of human experience.

Did you launch a new work here? If so, which one and when?

I launched No serenity here, an anthology of African poetry translated into Mandarin. The book was commissioned by Mr Hu Xiancheng of the Moonchu Foundation in China. Mr Hu spent many years in Africa and, taking note of the expansion of China into Africa, he wanted to make an anthology of African poetry available to the Chinese audience. Our Mandarin translator, Tingting, did the translation.

What are you most proud of in your literary career to date?

That I have had opportunities to share my work. Being invited to Poetry Africa in 2007 was a huge honour, and being allowed to launch No serenity here was a wonderful gift.

Do you see yourself as a writer first and a poet second, or is it the other way around?

I’m an informal scholar of literature, trying to map my journey in words. I am always learning how to do it better. Every event that could be a triumph turns out to be a lesson in how I could have done it better.

What have poets got to offer our country?

The wealth of their imaginations and the heat of their words.

What is the one thing people should remember about you and your work after you’ve gone?

That they must tell their stories.


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