S9E1: Sarah Lubala, Mahtem Shiferraw & Phillippa Yaa de Villiers – Writing Across Time
17 Aug 2023
Image credits: Phillippa Yaa de Villiers by Fezekile Msimang
Phillippa Yaa de Villiers interviews Sarah Lubala and Mahtem Shiferraw about their poetry collections, A History of Disappearance and Nomenclatures of Invisibility. Sarah and Mahtem read several of their poems and contemplate language, ancestors, writing for a collective, migration, loss and awe.
Phillippa Yaa de Villiers lectures in Creative Writing at Wits University. Her one-woman show Original Skin toured nationally and to Germany. She is the author of the poetry collections Taller than Buildings (Centre for the Book, 2006), The Everyday Wife (Modjaji Books, 2010), which won the 2011 South African Literary Prize, and ice-cream headache in my bone (Modjaji Books, 2017). She co-edited Keorapetse Kgositsile: Collected Poems (Nebraska Press, 2023) alongside Uhuru Phalafala.
Sarah Lubala is a Congolese-born poet. She has been shortlisted twice for the Gerald Kraak Award, and once for The Brittle Paper Poetry Award. She is the winner of the 14th edition of the Castello Di Duino prize. Her debut collection, A History of Disappearance, (Botsotso Publishing, 2022) won a Humanities and Social Sciences Award in 2023.
Mahtem Shiferraw is a writer and visual artist from Ethiopia and Eritrea. She is the author of three full-length poetry collections: Fuchsia which won the Sillerman First Book Prize for African Poets, Your Body is War and Nomenclatures of Invisibility (BOA Editions Ltd., 2023). She is the founder and executive director of Anaphora Arts. She also serves on the Editorial Board of World Literature Today.
In this episode we are in solidarity with writer and human rights defender Teesta Setalvad. We call on the authorities in India to drop the charges against her. You can read more about her case here.
As tributes to her, Sarah reads “If They Come for Us” by Fatimah Asghar, Mahtem reads “If They Come for Me: After Fatimah Asghar” and Phillippa reads “Black Things” by Heather Robertson.
Listen to the episode here: