Universiteit Leiden

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Antjie Krog writer in residence at Leiden University this autumn

South African poet Antjie Krog will be the writer in residence at Leiden University in autumn 2021. Krog is famous for her poetry collections and books, which are often inspired by the history of South Africa. In her role as writer in residence, she will give the annual Albert Verwey Lecture and a series of classes.

Internationally acclaimed author Antjie Krog (1952) lives and works in South Africa, where she wrote about the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in her non-fiction book Country of My Skull. But the history and multiple voices of her country also play a leading role in her many poetry collections. Her award-winning work is astonishing: political yet personal, lyrical, witty yet serious. Without resorting to simple appropriation, she instead explores how to give voice to Africa in her poems and impressive performances. 

Lectures and classes

Krog will be the 37th writer in residence at Leiden University. A permanent fixture of the residency is the Albert Verwey Lecture, which Krog will give in the evening of Thursday 18 November 2021, entitled: ‘Tempting to write what should/ could not be written’. The lecture will be open to all, as will the classes – although prior registration is required for these. Priority will be given to students, from all disciplines and universities. Under Krog’s guidance, the students will read and write in Dutch, Afrikaans and English, and research that aspect of reality and topicality that can only be expressed in literature: from ancient wisdom and the language of birds, to poverty and human rights violations. 

About the writer’s residency

The writer’s residency at Leiden University was instated in 1985. It is a collaboration between the university and NRC Handelsblad, which publishes the Verwey Lecture. The residency gives students and staff the opportunity to come into contact with a famous writer, someone who creates literature and is accustomed to looking at and giving voice to the world around them in a way different way from is customary at the university. The writer’s residency is for the duration of three months per year. 

Previous writers in residence

The first writer in residence at the university was Gerard Reve. He was succeeded by writers including Judith Herzberg, Frans Kellendonk, Anna Enquist, Renate Dorrestein, Arnon Grunberg, P.F. Thomése, Joke van Leeuwen, Tom Lanoye and Alfred Schaffer. Bibi Dumon Tak was last year’s writer in residence. She will give her Verwey Lecture, which was postponed because of Covid, on Wednesday 23 June.

Photo: Philippe Matsas/ANP 

Krog also writer in residence at Ghent University

Ghent University took the initiative to invite Antjie Krog to the Low Countries last year as that university’s first writer in residence. The Flemish university will now appoint a writer in residence for a period of two months each year. 

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