Free Lunchtime Talk: ‘Creative Understanding’

You are invited to a free Lunchtime Soapbox talk entitled:

‘Creative Understanding’: Stephen Watson’s translations of the /Xam narratives

by Emma O’Shaughnessy

This talk considers some of the issues surrounding late poet, Stephen Watson’s, 2006 plagiarism accusation of Antje Krog. The accusation centered on Krog’s publication of poetic translations of /Xam narratives, which were very similar to Watson’s own collection, published a decade earlier. Despite the fact that Watson’s claim of Krog’s plagiarism seemed to injure his own reputation more than hers, his collection of /Xam poetry reveals more nuanced understandings of the idioms of the originals, and of his own power as a modern-day poet. By looking at ways in which both poets choose to translate original /Xam narratives, O’Shaughnessy will suggest how Watson’s poems achieve something more natural and more original than Krog’s – by virtue of what one can call ‘Creative Understanding’.

Emma O’Shaughnessy is a final year doctoral student at the University of Cape Town. She spent a number of years working on local film and television projects before returning to UCT to complete her postgraduate degrees. Her current research focuses on African urban literary production and how one can better understand material, human spaces through the lens of imaginative texts and poetics. Her doctoral thesis explores specifically Post-Apartheid Johannesburg. She is the Managing Editor of The Centre for African Studies’ journal, postamble, has taught in the English Department and is currently co-ordinating and teaching English Language and Literature as part of Equal Education’s Community Leadership Programme.

A delicious and affordable (from R35) brown bag lunch will be on sale at the venue.

Date: Thursday 19 May 2011

Time: 12:45 for 13:00pm

Venue: Lobby Books, Cape Town Democracy Center, 6 Spin Street

Contact: Andreas Spath at or 021 467 7606

Parking options:
Street parking in the area is safe.
Parking garages open to the public in the area include:

  • Plein Park (Plein Street; to get to the entrance, turn off Plein Street into Barrack Street and then into Corporation Street).
  • Mandela Rhodes Place (entrance in Burg Street, off Wale Street).

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