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Dawn Garisch Wins the 2011 Sol Plaatje European Union Poetry Award

Dawn Garisch

Dawn Garisch has won the inaugural Sol Plaatje European Union Poetry Award for her poem “Miracle” as announced at Durban’s Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre yesterday evening. The awards ceremony, part of this year’s Poetry Africa International Festival, co-incided with the launch of the Sol Plaatje European Union Anthology 2011, a collection of the poems submitted for the competition.

#poetryafrica Dawn Garisch wins the Inaugural Sol Plaatje European Union Poetry Award for the poem ‘Miracle’ @BooksLIVESA #livebooksThu Oct 20 17:52:33 via web

Liesl Jobson, editor of the anthology, and one of the judges tasked with selecting the finalists for the first-ever Jacana Literary Foundation (JLF) Award, said of the task: “It’s a risk to write poetry, but it’s also a risk to judge it.” Joining Jobson on a star-studded judging panel were Robert Berold, Charl-Pierre Naude, Vonani Bila and South Africa’s poet laureate, Professor Keorapetse Kgositsile.

Liesl JobsonSol Plaatje European Union Anthology 2011Jobson urged her audience to consider Niyi Osundare’s injunction: “We’ve got a lot of work to do in Africa. The world doesn’t listen to silence – it’s your duty to get your work out there – for money, and for presence.”

Stressing that South Africa needs poetry activism, Jobson explained that each participant has been given a free copy of the book and asked to donate it to his/her local library, as a way of making aspirant poets aware of the opportunities that exist for them to get published.

Each of the four finalists then read their entries: Kea’ Modimoeng, “Ba lebetse batlhoki” (“They have forgotten the poor”); Bev Rycroft, ‘Has your Dad got a bird yet’; Dawn Garisch, “Miracle”; and Martha Pretoors, “Verlore Beeltenis” (“Lost Picture”).

The launch, held on the theatre’s Wellington Tavern Deck, flowed into the evening’s main event where Professor Kgositsile thanked Jobson for “doing the donkey work” in selecting the longlist and compiling an anthology that “reflects the collective creativity of South Africa”.

Frank Oberholzer, speaking on behalf of EU Ambassador Rudolph van Geer, thanked Jacana for making tangible this worthwhile initiative. He noted that strength of culture and a drive for development are intertwined, saying that the EU supports the poetry competition as a form of social engagement. Oberholzer also expressed his delighted at being able to honour South African intellectual giant, Sol Plaatje, as well as the sparkling array of diverse voices in the anthology.

While Garisch took top honours, not far behind her was fellow Modjaji poet, Bev Rycroft, who took second prize. Kea’ Modimoeng and Martha Pretoors were jointly awarded third prize. Garisch concluded the event with a reading of “Miracle”, a poem about infidelity.

Press Release

The Jacana Literary Foundation is pleased to announce the winner of the Sol Plaatje European Union Poetry Award 2011. Dawn Garisch accepted the honour for her poem ‘Miracle’ at a prize-giving ceremony at the Poetry Africa festival in Durban. Second place went to Beverly Rycroft for her entry ‘Has your Dad got a bird yet?’. Third place was jointly awarded to Kea’ Modimoeng for ‘Be lebetse batlhoki’ (‘They have forgotten the poor’) and Martha Pretoors for ‘Verlore beeltenis’ (‘Lost picture’). The jury comprised distinguished South African poets Vonani Bila, Charl-Pierre Naudé, Robert Berold and Liesl Jobson. The jury deliberated on the entries and sent a shortlist to the country’s Poet Laureate, Professor Keorapetse Kgositsile, who decided upon the winner.

All of the winning poems, as well as a selection of poetry entered for the competition, has been published to coincide with the Award ceremony.

About the anthology: The Sol Plaatje European Union Poetry Anthology 2011 honours the spirit of the legendary intellectual giant, Sol Plaatje, the activist, linguist and translator, novelist, journalist and leader. This sparkling array of contributions from poets around the country will resonate with those who live in this country and those who love it from afar. Wicked and beautiful as ever it was while Plaatje observed the Boer War, translated Shakespeare, reflected on “Native Life” and played with proverbs, so the poems in this anthology bring the depth and breadth of life in South Africa to a wider audience. Personal themes of identity, isolation and intimacy are pitted against the politics property and personhood, loss and love. Family and music, traffic and weather, bodies and buildings form the backdrop for the particular and familiar of South African life. Individual voices in a range of languages bear witness to all that is gruesome, glorious and gleeful. There is hope for a country when its poets pay attention.


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Liesl Jobson also tweeted the announcement of the winners:

#livebooks Prof Willie Kgotsitsile thanks EU for funding & @JacanaMedia for making anthology possible & @LieslJobson for job well done.Thu Oct 20 17:37:23 via Twitter for iPad

#livebooks Joint third prize to Kea Modimoeng & Martha Pretoors. Oct 20 17:48:46 via Twitter for iPad

#livebooks Second prize to Bev Rycroft. First prize Dawn Garisch, who reads “Miracle”. Hearty congratulations! Oct 20 17:50:15 via Twitter for iPad

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Recent comments:

  • <a href="" rel="nofollow">Maya</a>
    October 21st, 2011 @14:01 #

    Fantastic news, congratulations, Dawn!

  • <a href="" rel="nofollow">Henrietta</a>
    October 21st, 2011 @14:34 #

    wonderful, Dawn!

  • <a href="" rel="nofollow">Colleen</a>
    October 21st, 2011 @15:10 #

    Modjaji Books is very proud to be the publisher of both Dawn's collection "Difficult Gifts" and Bev Rycroft's "missing".

    To celebrate we are giving away two copies of Dawn's book, you have to retweet the Modjaji Books Tweet - go to @modjaji_bks on twitter and find the relevant tweet or Like the Modjaji Books Facebook page if you are not already a fan. Deadline midnight tonight - winners will be announced in the morning.

  • <a href="" rel="nofollow">Lauren Beukes</a>
    Lauren Beukes
    October 21st, 2011 @16:06 #

    Congratulations, Dawn, that's awesome, awesome news.

  • <a href="" rel="nofollow">Helen</a>
    October 22nd, 2011 @13:56 #

    Well done the local gals! Very proud of you. It sounds like a terrific anthology.


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