Mentorship programme for writers in Somerset East

Opportunity for 4 emerging authors

The Jakes Gerwel Foundation and NB Publishers are launching a mentorship programme based in Somerset East for emerging writers in 2019.

The foundation has selected four writers who will meet regularly with two mentors at the newly restored Paulet house in Somerset East. This building was the beloved retreat of the late academic and anti-apartheid activist Professor Jakes Gerwel which his widow donated to the foundation.

Seasoned editor Suzette Kotze-Myburgh and bestselling writer Francois Bloemhof are the mentors.

Bronwyn Davids, Engela Ovies, Shana Fife and Sharon Mogoaneng are the first writers chosen. The manuscripts they sent to the publisher are diverse – from the memoirs of Davis and the Northern Cape love story of Ovies to Fife's detective story set on the Cape Flats and Mogoaneng's novel about love and loss.

The four will work collectively on their books and also communicate individually about writing with their mentors over the one-year programme, with all related expenses to be paid by the Foundation.

“For a country's literature to continue to thrive there must always be new writers stepping forward – people with different stories to tell,” said Bloemhof. “I’m looking forward to assisting our new wordsmiths and will be pleased if they could benefit from some of the things I’ve learned.”

Kotze-Myburgh is equally thrilled at the prospect of taking part in this project.

“Due to the high costs of professional mentoring it seldom, if ever, happens that talented and aspiring young writers get a chance such as this one. With this initiative the Jakes Gerwel Foundation fills a huge gap,” she said.

The project kicks off for the first time this year and aims to bring new voices on to the South African literary scene. The focus is on fiction and non-fiction that explore local issues in both English and Afrikaans.

The programme gives young writers whose work has not yet been published the opportunity to hone their skills and develop their manuscripts under the guidance of experienced mentors.

The aim is further to prepare manuscripts that have been submitted to the publisher, but that still need to be perfected, for publication.