Great poets at Spier — Yvette Christiansë (Sponsored)

yvette christiaanse

Poet, novelist, scholar and librettist Yvette Christiansë’s return from New York City for the Spierdancing in other words Poetry Festival is already much anticipated by audiences.  Born and raised in Hondsebek, Johannesburg, the precise date of her birth is something of a mystery. “In truth,” she says, “only my mother, my now deceased grandparents, and the midwife who delivered me know. My official birth date is 12 December 1954, but we have always celebrated it on 4 August, which my entire family swears is the date I was born on. There’s a picture of me with this written on the back, but no year. You can imagine what hell the Green Card process was.”

Her writing “explores the rich themes of the country’s history – slavery and apartheid, exile and displacement”, writes Liesl Jobson on [She] “has singlehandedly been populating South Africa with a collection of individuals who continue to live in our midst, and who seem to be ‘indigenous’ incarnations of indigenous pain and hope,” writes Karen Press in an introduction to her collection quoted from here.

Yvette currently teaches at Barnard College at Columbia University where she is a professor of Africana Studies and English Literature, and Chair of the Consortium for Critical Interdisciplinary Studies.


There is a stain on the horizon.
It leaks into the world, covers
the linens, covers the faces
and turns this ocean, shuddering,
from its course. I speak
two tongues – one dressed
in syllables of government,
shielded by amen and hallelujah,
the other a ragged stumbling,
of this place, utterances
of silence and elation, wave breaks
and soil – I speak two tongues
and neither will suffice.

From Fernão the Gardener has Premonitions, Imprendehora, Kwela/Snail Press, 2007: 66-67.

The Spier dancing in other words Poetry Festival is in line with Spier’s aim to host leading artists and thought leaders for creative debate, dialogue and expression. Visit our website to discover more about these poets, and keep abreast of news about these and your favourite participants from previous festivals on our blog.

For more information, contact project manager Marí Stimie.


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