It started with a delegation from Gothenburg Literature House that visited South African organisation Hear my Voice in early September for workshops, meetings and lectures in both Johannesburg and Cape Town.

Now it is soon time for the second part of our literature and democracy exchange! Three poets and an organizer from South Africa are visiting Gothenburg: Emmah Mabye, Masai Sepuru, Raphael d’Abdon and Ishmael Sibiya. They have a packed program in Gothenburg and The Göteborg Book Fair!

Ishmael Sibiya is a facilitator and events producer focused on the development of emerging artists within literature (Poetry/Spoken Word) as well as other art-forms:

– Biletral exchanges are very important. They allow young writers, some who most likely would never have had such opportunity, first hand experience of new audiences and literary spaces, providing a wider platform for their stories. They get to engage with local writers, publishers, audiences and other relevant stakeholders which is crucial for their professional and most importantly, personal growth. This exchanges will expand their networks and create paths for further collaborations and opportunities.

– As an organization, these exchanges allow us to share best practices and how we can improve our systems and processes to better our organization.

What would you say is the overall role of literature in the world of today?

– Literature allows one to explore new landscapes of the imagination and transcend boundaries and circumstances. It also teaches one how to empathize with people who might be far away from us, but share with us the same human experiences to some extent. It is one of the best antidotes against racism, xenophobia, apathy, and all the other societal ills facing us on a regular basis.

What do you hope to achieve through this project?

– A deeper understanding of the poetry and literary scene in Sweden, new ideas for future projects, how to go about producing large scale literary fairs, new networks, and lovely memories. Also, one of the main objectives of this trip is to publish translations of works by Swedish and South African writers, and to develop research projects that will consolidate the partnership between the two countries and organizations.