S9E6 Gabeba Baderoon, Roger Reeves & Bongani Kona: Intimacy & Interiority

21 Sep 2023
S9E6 Gabeba Baderoon, Roger Reeves & Bongani Kona: Intimacy & Interiority

Image credits: Gabeba Baderoon by Victor Dlamini and Roger Reeves by Ana Schwartz

Bongani Kona interviews Gabeba Baderoon and Roger Reeves about their books The History of Intimacy and Dark Days: Fugitive Essays. They remember early transformative encounters with literature and their beginnings as writers. They also confer about essays, poetry, interior lives, family and their current projects. Roger reads from his essay “Reading Fire, Reading the Stars” in addition to his poems “Grendel” and “After the funeral”. Gabeba reads her poems “Give” and “The Flats”.

Bongani Kona is a writer, editor and lecturer in the Department of Historical Studies at the University of the Western Cape. He is a board member of PEN South Africa.

Gabeba Baderoon is the author of Regarding Muslims: from Slavery to Post-apartheid  as well as the poetry collections, The Dream in the Next BodyA Hundred Silences and The History of Intimacy  which have been recognized with the Daimler award, the Elisabeth Eybers Poetry Prize, the University of Johannesburg Prize for South African Writing and a Best Poetry Book Award from the National Institute for the Humanities and Social Sciences. She’s the co-editor, with Desiree Lewis, of the award-winning essay collection, Surfacing: On Being Black and Feminist in South Africa. Gabeba is an Associate Professor in Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies, African Studies and Comparative Literature at Penn State University and the co-director of the African Feminist Initiative.

Roger Reeves is the author of two poetry collections, King Me and Best Barbarian which was a finalist for the National Book Award and winner of the Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award. Dark Days: Fugitive Essays was published by Graywolf Press in August 2023. His essays have appeared in Granta, The Virginia Quarterly, The Yale Review and elsewhere. He is the recipient of a Whiting Award and fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Radcliffe Institute at Harvard University. Roger is an Associate Professor of English and Creative Writing at the University of Texas at Austin.

In this episode we are in solidarity with the collective case of 12 Eritrean writers and journalists imprisoned in 2001. They are: Dawit Isaak, Fessehaye ‘Joshua’ Yohannes, Seyoum Tsehaye, Said Abdelkadir, Methanie Haile, Temesegen Ghebreyesuy, Yousif Mohammed Ali, Amanuel Asrat, Dawit Habtemichael, Matheos Habteab, Sahle ‘Wedi-ltay’ Tsefezab and Said Idris ‘Abu Are’.

We join PEN International, PEN Eritrea in Exile and PEN centres around the world in calling on the authorities in Eritrea to free them. You can read more about their case here.

As tributes to them, Gabeba reads “All You Who Sleep Tonight” by Vikram Seth and Roger reads “Preliminary Question” by Aimé Césaire (translated by A. James Arnold and Clayton Eshleman).

Listen to the episode here: