PEN South Africa Student Writing Prize Shortlist

05 May 2016
PEN South Africa Student Writing Prize Shortlist

We are pleased to announce the shortlist for the PEN South Africa Student Writing Prize.

We invited writers under the age of 30 to send in their fiction, creative non-fiction or poetry on the topic of the recent #FeesMustFall movement and the panel of judges, Gabeba Baderoon (chair), Panashe Chigumadzi, Nick Mulgrew and Masande Ntshanga, have chosen the shortlist.

“Here are three new voices. Here is writing that is muscular and poetic, incandescent with rage and luminous with pain. These are the finalists of the PEN South Africa Student Writing Prize. These clear and welcome and articulate new writers distil and give form to the student movement that is changing and shaping a generation.”
– PEN SA President Margie Orford

PEN South Africa Student Writing Prize Shortlist

  • “The Forgotten” by Sithembiso Khalishwayo
  • “Water” by Koleka Putuma
  • “A love poem to the ‘Problematic’ Black Womxn” by Puleng Lange-Stewart

Read more about the shortlisted writers and the judges’ comments on their works:

Sithembiso KhalishwayoSithembiso Khalishwayo is an actor, dancer, teacher, writer, choreographer and facilitator who studied at the Wits School of Arts and Drama For Life majoring in Physical Theatre, Performance and Applied Drama, he is currently working towards his Masters Degree in Applied Drama (Drama in Education, Theatre as Activism) with his research focusing on the ability of Body to hold the story of many, with specific focus on the Fees Must Fall Movement. He is the current student representative for both the Masters Applied Drama students and overall student representative for all students under the Drama For Life Program. He is the recipient of The Pieter-Dirk Uys Theatre for Social Change Award for outstanding theatre for social change research by a postgraduate student, and winner of the 2015 Wits Photographic Competition. He has created and \or performed work for the NAF, Dance Umbrella, all DFL Festivals,the Young Artists Festival, My Body…My Space Festival in Mpumalanga and the Maitisong Festival in Botswana this year. For the past 8 years he has done work with students, youth and professionals having created and\or performed in over 40 productions. His passion lies in the heART.

…powerful series of echoes, through the form of the letter, always an intimate opening, a meditation on numbers and their erasure of the person they represent, of the distance between us before we even try, of what cannot be undone, what will never be said – heartrending

– Gabeba Baderoon on “The Forgotten” by Sithembiso Khalishwayo

Koleka PutumaTheatre Director, Writer, and Performance Poet- Koleka Putuma graduated with a BA in Theatre & Performance at the University of Cape Town. She has headlined at TEDx, SliPnet’s Inzync Poetry Sessions, and Word N Sound. Her work has been showcased in Scotland, Germany and around the US. Her plays include UHM (2014), Mbuzeni (2015/2016). In 2015, under the Magnet theatre directing residency, she created two original plays for young audiences which include Ekhaya for 2-7 year olds and SCOOP, the first South African play for 2 weeks-12 month old babies. She was crowned South Africa’s first national slam champion (2014). Nominated for the Rosalie van der Gucht Prize for Best New Directors at the annual Fleur Du Cap Theatre Awards (2015). She has been named One of Africa’s top 10 poets by Badilisha, and named one of the young pioneers who took South Africa by storm in 2015 by The Sunday Times. She is a resident poet and creative director of the collective Lingua Franca and Co-Founder of a theatre company called The Papercut Collective.

…I love the concept of water to understand the heart of petty apartheid. Importantly, the piece roots Fallism within the broader South African context and history, something which I often find is only ever done obliquely in the media coverage

– Panashe Chigumadzi on “Water” by Koleka Putuma

Puleng Lange StewartPuleng Lange-Stewart is a young poet, performer, illustrator and playwright from Johannesburg. Matriculating at Sacred Heart College in 2010, she went on to travel and teach in East Asia, before landing in Cape Town, South Africa to begin her degree in theatre at the University of Cape Town. Puleng is currently completing her Honours in Theatre Making at UCT. She is a queer black feminist, a mother, and a proud iconoclast who was involved in both protests and multiple performative interventions surrounding the removal of the Rhodes statue in 2015, and remains committed to the fight for decolonization in South Africa and further afield. Currently she is co-writing a theatre production (Figs) which will be showing at this years National Arts Festival, presented by the UCT Drama Department. She has performed in a number of short films and theatre productions and is currently working on her first independent short film. She is based in Cape Town, with her son and partner, and works towards creating innovative and critical artwork, that actively challenges notions of patriarchy, heteronormativity, and the violence of racialised class structures that underpin much of our existence as South Africans.

…I like the way in which the author played with and emphasized the common silencing and delegitimsing adjectives thrown at black women e.g. aggressive, angry and in so doing inverted them in the service of black women. I also love that it’s addressed as a “love poem” because we don’t always get to talk about love in a time of revolution

– Panashe Chigumadzi on “A love poem to the ‘Problematic’ Black Womxn” by Puleng Lange-Stewart