University of the Free State: Would-be writers’ books born from UFS Afrikaans writing course

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Adele Vorster, a freelance critic and language editor; Dr Franco Colin, a psychiatrist; and Pieter Stoffberg, a lawyer, have all become published authors thanks to the MA in Creative Writing programme at the University of the Free State (UFS). In addition to these the progamme which is presented by the Department of Afrikaans and Dutch, German and French boasts a total of five books this year – a true testament to their academic excellence.

Dr Colin’s collection of poems Skeletaal, Vorster’s book Tien voor een, and Stoffberg’s novel Tenk all have the same central theme of vulnerability and strength. The three books were launched during an event on 3 August 2022, with Prof Henning Pieterse and Dr Francois Smith – the supervisors and writing attendants – interviewing the authors.

Skeletaal was printed and distributed by Imprimatur, Tien voor een by Protea Publishers, and Tenk by Penguin Random House.

Books make dreams come true for authors

“This is a lifelong dream that has come true. The positive feedback I get from readers and the media humbles me and makes me grateful,” says Vorster. According to her, her book is a physical manifestation of becoming whole. Tien voor een addresses the weighty themes of food addiction, a love affair gone wrong, and youth trauma.

According to Dr Franco Colin, who is partial to intellectual poetry, he writes to give a voice to the vulnerable. “Poetry is condensed emotion,” he says. To publish poetry is also an adolescent dream that has come true for him.

Pieter Stoffberg, the lawyer from Ermelo, says his novel Tenk is ‘faction’, since the book stems from interviews, conversations, and diaries of people who were part of the Angolan War in 1987. The novel illuminates the complex nature of war for both those in front of and behind the tank. “It is, however, also a truly human story of hope and courage,” says Stoffberg.

MA in Creative Writing one of a kind

The prestige associated with this writing course can also be ascribed to Prof Henning Pieterse and Dr Francois Smith, both authors in their own right. For a would-be author, the MA in Creative Writing is also one of the best structured courses. According to Adele Vorster, the course exceeded her wildest expectations. “The highlight was the personal and detailed feedback regarding my manuscript and the fact that I had completed a publishable manuscript at the end of the two years,” she says.

Dr Franco Colin also expressed high praise for the course, especially since he only completed half of the course at the UFS. “The practical part of the course in workshop format with Henning was incredibly valuable, as you sat ‘at the feet of Gamaliel’ with your writing,” he says.

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