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Friday, 17th May 2019



For everyone who loves reading, writing & the Karoo.

Meet remarkable writers at this marketplace of ideas. The programme is stacked with new books, stimulating encounters, new friends, readings (including a new play), a kombuis konsert, fireside chats and delicious Karoo food served at historic venues, all within strolling distance of one another.

The AVOB Poetry Project supports our passion for writing and reading in the important Karoo languages (Afrikaans, isiXhosa and English) and thanks to them, young voices will read work in all three languages produced during workshops with established poetry coaches.

The National English Literary Museum is the founding sponsor and they will lead the 100s theme – 100 years since the birth of Nelson Mandela and Cradock’s literary prince, Guy Butler. 100 years since Die Stem was written; the list goes on. It so happens that it is also 100 years since the founding of AVBOB, sponsors of South Africa’s major multi-lingual poetry prize.



The programme for the next Karoo Writers Festival (Cradock 6-9 June) has been announced and booking is now open for discount one- and two-day passes.

Visitors save R100pp on the one day pass (available for Friday 7 June or Saturday 8 June) and R250pp for the two day pass (which gives admission to most programme events on both days),” says festival organiser, Lisa Ker. “Budgets are tight, and this is our way of helping more people get more value from the festival. Kuier-ing for the full programme is what it's all about.

Workshops and meals are payable separately, she explains, as they are not included in the special pass offer.


Young talent will head for the Sonskyndienssentrum in Michausdal on the Thursday afternoon for the festival's annual Neville Alexander memorial variety concert.

The main festival programme is to open at Victoria Manor 17h30 with the festive launch of Dorothy Driver's new booklet Olive Schreiner's Poetics of Plants.

It's a fun event with Bossieveld Gin tasting, readings, a slide show, the Clarke's pop-up bookshop, and art by Annari Oosthuysen,” says Amy Coetzer of the festival committee.

Farm kitchen soups will be served for supper before a huiskonsert featuring some members of Ginger's Fault band.

Friday's programme (at Schreiner House) will include readings (Jonty Driver and more), a tribute to the great South African statesman, Will Schreiner, and a peep at Olive Schreiner's letters to “My darling Bessie” (her niece Bessie Reitz).


There are two writing workshops on Friday (7 June):

In the morning: “Seeing the Small Towns and Dry Spaces of South Africa through the eyes of Chris Marais & Julienne du Toit” – an interactive workshop of words and images. Participants will join two of SA’s favourite travel writers on a journey into the Heartland. They will present their popular 'Karoo magic' slide-show before dinner that same evening.

In the afternoon, creative writing will come under the spotlight with seasoned coach and best-selling novelist, Jo-Anne Richards.


New this year are three short outings in Cradock's Big Sky adventure bus.  Sundowner trips to the banks of the Great Fish and the spooky old cemetery are scheduled for Friday and Saturday late afternoon. There will be a Saturday afternoon jaunt to Oukop to hunt for some of the the plants Olive Schreiner loved.

For walkers, the amplified literary tour now includes an interlude with Sessie Sekunana in the new Cradock Writers' gallery at the Great Fish River Museum.

Along with a grand Karoo dinner on Friday night, popular Karoo foodie/writers, Gordon Wright and Tony Jackman, will discuss pairings of Leopard's Leap wines with the menu and their recipes.


Saturday will see The Shed precinct transformed into a festival market with stalls, lots of food and fine coffee.

Super-blogger, Anje Rautenbach of, will share some of her adventures on the open road – across media platforms, she has 35 000 followers! Toast Coetzer will present his new songbook; Martin Welz of noseweek magazine will reveal more of the news we are not supposed to know; Clinton V. Du Plessis will reflect on the golden era of Holy Cross Convent (that incubator for writers) before he reads from one of his new collections of poetry.

A town called Peace (Vrede)” is the theme of a joint presentation by novelist, Jo-Anne Richards and travel writer, Fred de Vries, who show how the same Free State town is presented in fictional and non-fictional writing.

Saturday closes with a song and lyrics jam session at Karoo Brew Art Café featuring Melina Smit and The Bontkooi Band. A selection of curries and sambals will be followed by stout beer and bitter chocolate semifreddo in sugar cones.

To visit the Schreiner sarcophagus atop Buffelskop on the Sunday morning, visitors are asked to book direct with Buffelshoek Dirosie Lodge.

The festival's founding sponsor is Amazwi The South African Museum of Literature (formerly NELM), and The Avbob Poetry Project generously supports the festival's creative encounter for young people (10-12 June).

The festival programme has been posted here To book, write to or call 083 257 8601 



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