Gabeba Baderoon

Voluptuous Silence and Sociality in Poetry

While my own writing tends to center around silence and solitude, I also operate through vibrant, tender, and reciprocal methods of creating art with others.”

Gabeba Baderoon is a South African poet, editor, academic, memoirist, and performer. She took her first class in writing poetry at the age of thirty and still describes herself as a student of the writing arts today, a quarter of a century later.

Baderoon is the author of the collections The Dream in the Next Body (Kwela Books, 2005), A hundred silences (Kwela Books, 2006), and The Museum of Ordinary Life (DaimlerChrysler, 2005), as well as the monograph Regarding Muslims: From Slavery to Post-Apartheid. Her work has been honored with the University of Johannesburg Prize, the Elisabeth Eybers Poetry Prize, the Daimler Award, and a best book award from the National Institute for the Humanities and Social Sciences.

Baderoon teaches Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies, African Studies, and Comparative Literature at Penn State University, where she co-directs the African Feminist Initiative. She has received writing fellowships from the Nordic Africa Institute, Bellagio, the University of Witwatersrand, and the Stellenbosch Institute for Advanced Study. Baderoon has been an Extraordinary Professor of English at Stellenbosch University since 2012, and in 2023 will hold the Sarah Baartman Senior Fellowship in the San and Khoi Centre at the University of Cape Town to work on her new manuscript The Concussion Diaries: Relief Map of a Drifting Mind.

As a mentor, she seeks applicants working with poetic language, in any tradition or mode. “I myself work in the lyric poetry tradition, which means I am in a world sensuously alive with the intuitions, whispers, and hesitancies of language, which I press beyond the small circle of the ‘I‘ toward an intimacy with history, theory, and politics,” she says.

“This is not the only approach to poetry, I know. While my own writing tends to center around silence and solitude, I also operate through vibrant, tender, and reciprocal methods of creating art with others.”

Watch Gabeba Baderoon’s video statement: