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Franschhoek Literary Festival

@ Sunday Times Books LIVE

The Writing of Love and the Love of Writing with Victor Dlamini

Lebo Mashile Victor Dlamini and Lebo Mashile Eben Venter, Victor Dlamini, Finuala Dowling and Lebo Mashile Finuala Dowling Eben Venter

Victor Dlamini led a panel at the FLF on the diverse topic of love. There to discuss aspects of love in their writing as well as their love of writing were Lebo Mashile (In a Ribbon of Rhythm) Finuala Dowling (Notes from the Dementia Ward) and Eben Venter, (Trencherman).

Dlamini opened the discussion, addressing at first the difficulty of how to write about love. began with his questions with Mashile who he called “the one wearing pink” – pink being one of the obvious colours of love. He described the “love” in Mashile’s poetry as a kind of loss of love to which Mashile responded by saying that it is precisely this threat of the loss of love that makes love such a hard thing to write about.

Dowling, in contrast, treats love more comically. She described herself as wanting to seduce her audience through her work; as frankly a bit of a flirt. And that she often finds herself disappointed when her reader doesn’t “love” her (her work). “A book” Dowling remarked, “has the same amount of time as speed-dating.”

Dlamini described a love that is almost love-less in Venter’s Trencherman. Yet digging deeper one may come across instances of real love in the book, Venter insisted. He spoke specifically of his attempt to realise a love for the Eastern Cape landscape in language.

Of particular interest to Dlamini was the elasticity of the concept “love”. “We can say we love cheesecake” Dlamini remarked, “or we can say we love Lebo but they differ in levels of intensity.”

 

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