I Write Who I Am: An Anthology of Upstart Poetry Edited by Harry Owen

05 Jul 2011
I Write Who I Am

If anyone ever thought that the youth of South Africa had nothing to say, or that they were unable to express themselves creatively and movingly, this vibrant new anthology of poetry is sure to change their minds.

Here you will find love, joy, hardship, despair, loss, ambition, celebration, hope, fun and great deal more – all expressed in the clear and honest voices of young people who have a real sense of who they are and what they have to offer.

Read it!

“Most of us never thought that we would or could write poetry, but Harry Owen revealed the potential that was obscured within ourselves. It’s all about us – he just facilitates.” – Sanele Ntshingana

“Every week when I meet with Upstart [to write poetry], I forget to think about all my troubles.” – Lulama Fatyela

I Write Who I Am (with a definite nod to Steve Biko), is an anthology of poetry by some talented township poets living in Grahamstown, which was launched at the National Arts Festival in July. The poetry grew out of a fantastic youth literacy programme founded by Shireen Badat, the wife of Rhodes University Vice-Chancellor Saleem Badat, and seems to me to be well worth celebrating.” – Harry Owen

“In mid-2008 a group of enthusiastic post-graduate journalism students at Rhodes University helped me to start a school newspaper, Upstart, in seven previously disadvantaged high schools in Grahamstown. Working with Grade 8 and 9 learners, the project aimed to expand the abilities of schoolchildren in a variety of areas, including promoting a culture of literacy; developing reading and writing abilities; encouraging inter-school communication in order to break down racial, cultural and language barriers; and developing leadership skills.

The project soon expanded to include former Model C schools and at the beginning of 2009 we had to include Grade 10 members as our Grade 9 groups from the previous year did not wish to be left out. Currently, Upstart has clubs at 11 schools in Grahamstown and one in Kenton-on-Sea, with an active membership of 250 learners who meet on a weekly basis. Upstart has grown from a black and white, eight-page newspaper published four times a year, to a 16-page full colour newspaper published eight times a year.

The young poets featured in this book have practised the art of poetry and developed a love for the written word under the guidance of Harry Owen. Without his unstinting dedication, you would not be holding this collection in your hands. We are deeply grateful to Harry for conducting the weekly poetry workshops since the beginning of 2010 without any remuneration. Watching these young Upstarts develop in confidence and bloom over the past year has been a humbling and inspiring experience.” – Shireen Badat, Upstart Project Manager

Orders can be placed via email to upstart@grocotts.co.za or by fax 046 6227282 and are being sold at R65,00 per copy. You can also call them on 046 622 7222.

Date of Publication: July 2011
ISBN: 978-0-620-50669-4
Website: Upstart’s Blog
Publisher: Poets Printery, East London