Head to Cradock for writers’ fest

Xolani Mahe
Cradock novelist Xolani Mahe will do a reading during the SKWF open microphone session

Visitors from every corner of the Eastern Cape and beyond will cocoon themselves in Cradock for the Schreiner Karoo Writers Festival this week.

It runs from Thursday to Sunday and will include talks and presentations enriched by fireside chats, open microphone sessions and encounters with remarkable people.

Events take place in the town’s Victoria Manor and Schreiner House, an easy walk apart. Thursday’s talks start with Greening Museums presented by the National English Literary Museum (Nelm), one of the festival’s main sponsors.

This is followed by a reading by Paul Walters and Jeremy Fogg of Olive Schreiner’s disagreements with Guy Butler’s newspaperman grandfather over the South African War.

On Friday morning, Ménan van Heerden unbundles some myths about the origins of Afrikaans and the status of the language today. Dorothy Driver takes a botanical ramble into Schreiner’s fictional outdoors and examines the “poetics of plants and the invocation of indigeneity” in The Story of an African Farm and From Man to Man. After tea, Beth Wyrell explores Butler’s role as founder of Nelm, among other programme highlights.

In a lively open mic session the writers of the future get a platform, and before dinner Julie Marais interviews journalist and playwright Tony Jackman about his new book, foodSTUFF.

Historian Dean Allen visits Matjiesfontein in words and pictures on Saturday. More travel follows as Alice Inggs interviews musician and journo Toast Coetzer on TV series Backroads (Agterpaaie). Tea is followed by the heart-m warming story of the Hantam Community Education Trust. Colesberg’s Zen monk and farmer Antony Osler also offers a dose of his calming wisdom.

Just before lunch, listen to two sons of Cradock in conversation: Toast Coetzer and Etienne van Heerden on Van Heerden’s latest novel.

There will be a books and food market at Schreiner House and the afternoon session kicks off with David Hilton Barber’s advice on How to Write your Family History, followed by Cradock novelist Zelda Manse and poet Alet Janse van Rensburg.

A slide show by Chris and Julie Marais is another Victoria Manor highlight and, as the stars come out, the tempo hots up with a Huiskonsert by Ginger’s Fault band. There’s a festival Sunday service at St Peter’s church while at the Mountain Zebra Park, David Smeda will explain How the Park Earned its Stripes, followed by lunch.

Visit karoowritersfestival.weebly.com for the full programme.

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