On the first weekend of September this year, literary locals are in for a treat.
The 9th annual Midlands Literary Festival will be held at Fern Hill Hotel this year. Darryl Earl David founder of BookBedonnerd in Richmond, Karoo and many other Literary Festivals, initiated the Midlands Literary Festival in 2010. “I have always maintained that the Midlands should be the literary capital of South Africa, as we boast direct links to writers like Alan Paton, Bessie Head, John Conyngham, Herbert Dhlomo, Sibusiso Nyembezi, Mahatma Gandhi, David Robbins, Moira Lovell, Kobus Moolman, DJ Opperman and Ina Rousseau, Reginald Dhlomo and Magema Fuze – who was the first man to publish a book in Zulu.”
Darryl continues, “over time we have gained a reputation for attracting some of the country’s biggest writers – Ahmed Kathrada, Miriam Tlali, Ian Player, Marguerite Poland, Gcina Mhlope, Bruce Fordyce, to name but a few,” he says, “This year promises to be exceptional – Jacques Pauw, David Robbins, Landa Mabenge, Harry Kalmer and Tracy Going are among the 25 published authors who will be sharing their stories with us.”
The KZN Midlands abounds creativity – talented writers, poets and artists.
Howick’s favourite florist, Helena Davis, will delight with the story of how she came to write the enchanting Wind in the Wheat Fields – a romantic novel in the Jane Austen tradition. This love story with its share of heartache is a wonderful and triumphant read that will sweep you back in time.
Almost everyone in the midlands has a fishing story to tell. Tod Collins writes of his and other anglers’ unusual exploits, with or without a fishing rod in hand in The Art of Being an Awful Angler – stories that embrace the philosophy of living in the moment with the art of not taking fly-fishing too seriously.
Dargle resident, Sharon Grussendorff, draws on her own inspiring journey, where she has grappled with finding the balance between contemplative living and relevant engagement in the world in her book Contemplative Living – learning the art of participation in the divine dance of life.
Josh Crickmay, who dropped out of school at 15 diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome, has produced a remarkable coffee table book telling a story of courage, and triumph of the human spirit. Josh’s Big Year chronicles his family’s travels to every corner of Southern Africa and beyond to identify as many bird species as possible in a single year.
In writing A Cape Rubaiyat, Mark de Wet has fulfilled a promise made thirty-four years ago to a Greek poet in Athens. His book is a visual fusion of wine and poetry structurally based on an Omar Khayyam’s epic poem ‘Rubaiyat’ written a thousand years ago.
Self-published, Brenda George will thrill with background into her novels Haunted by Shadows and The Shades of Hell, sharing details of the intense research she did in New York City with homicide detectives, and Sing Sing prison inmates, and inspire us to consider self-publishing. Hilton’s Andrea Nattrass, in her capacity as the publisher at Pan Macmillan South Africa, is responsible for managing the local publishing team, which develops and produces the titles by South African authors, both fiction and non-fiction, that Pan Macmillan publishes. In her presentation she talks about the South African publishing landscape and offers tips and suggestions to would-be authors in terms of how to increase their chances of having their work published. She also welcomes your publishing-related questions.
Durban-based Elana Bregin works as an editor for publishers and writes in her spare time. Her body of work reflects a diversity of styles and genres, from children’s and young adult novels to adult fiction, narrative non-fiction and speculative fiction. Her presentation The Stories We Write, the Stories that Write Us will inspire you to get going on your own writing journey.
Steampunk Coffee in Lion’s River hosts a monthly open mic session, Steampunk Poets, where unpretentious, honest and simple poetry emanates from all spheres of Midlands life. Some of the regulars – who you will recognise from their other roles as bakers, yoga teachers, conservationists and sculptors – will read their poems late on Saturday afternoon before sundowners and Nicky Grieshaber on piano draws you into a convivial evening.