Thursday, March 29, 2007

Author Visit

We were privileged with a visit from two writers, Nukila Amal from Indonesia , and Gabeba Baderoon from South Africa . Nukila Amal has had her 2005 short story collection, Laluba, named Best Literary Work of the Year by Tempo magazine, and her novel Cala Ibi (2003) shortlisted for the Khatulistiwa Literary Award. Gabeba Boderoon is the author of The Dream in the Next Body (Kwela/Snailpress, 2005), The Museum of Ordinary Life (DaimlerChrysler, 2005), and A Hundred Silences (Kwela/Snailpress, 2006). In 2005 she received the DaimlerChrysler Award for South African Poetry and held the Guest Writer Fellowship at the Nordic Africa Institute, the second person after Ama Ata Aidoo to receive this honor. Her poetry appears in the anthologies Worldscapes (Oxford University Press, 2005), Ten Hallam Poets (Mews Press, 2005), Voices from All Over (Oxford University Press, 2006) and Birds in Words (Umuzi/Random House, 2006). Her poetry has been published in journals in South Africa , the United States and Britain , and in translation in Karavan ( Stockholm ) and Adamar ( Madrid ). Her fiction appears in Chimurenga magazine and Twist, a short story anthology (Oshun, 2006). Gabeba is also a scholar, and has written for the media. In 2006 she was a guest at Poetry International in Rotterdam . Their visit was organized by the Winternachten in The Hague in coordination with Aruba ’s National Library. Since 1995 Winternachten dedicates itself to keeping up a writers and poet's network in The Netherlands and the historically related countries Indonesia , Surinam , Aruba and the Dutch Antilles and South-Africa. Annually Winternachten organizes a festival in The Hague , with writers, music and film from these countries. Secondly, Winternachten is responsible for the organization of editions of the Winternachten festival in the related countries.

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Ms. Amal began her presentation with an excerpt of one of her essays about the prevalence and blatancy of advertisements in Indonesia . Ms. Baderoon read some of her poems, which ranged from learning to throw a Frisbee to love. The rest of the session was for question and answers. Both authors spoke of how they got started as writers. For Ms. Amal, she recognized that her job in the hospitality industry was not fulfilling her, so she took a risk and quit her job to begin writing. After several months of “goofing around” and writing, some of her work found its way to a literary journal. The editor requested more work from her and eventually her first novel was published from this. For Ms. Baderoon, writing poetry came later in her life. She had intended to become a doctor like her mother, but fell in love with literature because of an inspirational teacher in high school. After university, she became a teacher, but continued to seek other experiences. One workshop introduced her to writing poetry. As she passed her poetry around to writer friends, they passed them on to publishers, which eventually sought her out for a full anthology. However, both writers stated that at this time, writing is not sustaining them as a profession, so Ms. Amal does translating work and Ms. Boderoon teaches at university.

The strongest advice, for new writers is to write. Ms. Boderoon writes every morning, whether it is 2 minutes or 20 minutes. Her feeling is that a writer has to work both from inspiration and from scheduled writing. Conversely, Ms. Amal mostly writes when the motivation hits, which may not be for months, or in marathon writing sessions. Both authors agreed that a good writer most begin to know their own patterns and muses and use whatever works best as every writer is an individual.


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