Students of the Rhodes University MA Programme in Creative Writing run from the Institute for the Study of English in Africa (ISEA) recently showcased their creative talent during the launch of TYHINI, a magazine of their writing.
At a well-attended event at Red Café, each of the eight students read excerpts from the publication, which ranged from a humorous conversation between bumbling detectives, to a romantic tale with a twist, to the difficult life of a security guard, to heartfelt accounts of everyday experiences in South Africa, including some moving poetry.
Featuring a generous section for each writer, TYHINI collects fiction and poetry produced during the first half of the course. Professor Laurence Wright, director of ISEA, said that although he didn’t usually “pat people on the back until the job was complete”, he was very pleased with the calibre of the work.
“I’m thrilled with your performance… You have worked intensively and done things perhaps you didn’t think you could do,” he said, addressing the writers.
Mr Robert Berold, the MA coursework coordinator and editor of the publication, said the intensive weekly cycle of courses exposed the writers to a wide range of genres and writing styles.
Each student was required to maintain a reflective journal covering all aspects of their learning process, including records of their exploratory reading, drafts of creative work, class notes, and thoughts about their book-length extended writing project, which they are currently all in the process of completing.
He said it was exciting to have read the pieces in TYHINI in various forms during their reworking, “and now here they are in a book”.
Ms Ruth Woudstra, whose story “The toilet paper thief” had audience members chuckling softly at the narrator’s various ploys to sneak toilet paper out of public places, said the course has provided her with the structure and framework necessary to attempt writing.
“I wouldn’t have had the discipline or self confidence to complete this work on my own. Calling myself a writer is a daily struggle but seeing my name in print helps me,” she said.
Ms Megan van der Nest, who completed her Masters in Philosophy at Rhodes last year, said the course would always have been on her to do list if she hadn’t done it this year.
Prof Wright said he hoped the event would encourage audience members to sign up for the course in 2012.
The course, which has more teachers (twelve) than students, is one of only two such programmes in South Africa and is accredited by the South African Qualifications Authority, SAQA. Next year there will be 20 students, incorporating part-time long-distance students.
Mr Berold said that more writers would be brought in to teach next year (all teachers are practising writers), and that a non-fiction option would be added.
For more information visit http://www.ru.ac.za/isea/courses/mainwriting/
Story by Sarah-Jane Bradfield
Photo by Ruth Woudstra
Back row: Oliver Cartwright, Songeziwe Mahlangu, Ruth Woudstra
Front row: Reneilwe Malatji, Liz Gowans, Namhla Tshisela, Robert Berold (coursework coordinator), Megan van der Nest
Absent from photo: Bernat KrugerSource:
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