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SLiP, or the Stellenbosch Literary Project, was set up in February 2011 as a public media and events platform to advance literary and performance culture in all languages in South Africa.
A project of the Department of English at Stellenbosch University, SLiP also acts as a hub for community engagement in both the literary and performance spheres.
SLiP, via www.slipnet.co.za, engages the talents of both professional and graduate-student writers, providing a public, professional media platform in which emerging scholars are able to cut their teeth as commentators in civil society at large, following the example of the professionals.
SLiP seeks to bridge divides in South Africa, and more immediately in the Western Cape, between academia and civil society, and between races and languages, sparking connections in the real social locales of performative interaction where people meet and learn to listen to each other.
Almost two years after its inception, SLiP has achieved many of its goals, and in many cases gone far beyond initial expectations. This is particularly true of SLiP’s events programme, whose flagship is the popular, once-a-month InZync poetry session format (see SLiP’s Facebook page for pictures, and the Events tab on this site for videos).
Over the past two years, the Inzync Poetry Sessions have featured an exhilarating diversity of poets and styles, from formal “paper poetry” to hip-hop “spoken word” performances. InZync, which from its inception has been hosted mostly in Kayamandi (on the outskirts of “white” Stellenbosch), has seen the flourishing of previously unseen and unheard expressive talent.
The InZync shows have decisively broken down language and race barriers, the very obstacles which so perniciously taint the history of Stellenbosch itself as a centre of white, Afrikaner political hegemony. Now, instead, InZync has become a new “hot spot” for transgressive literary-cultural engagement, and for racial, cultural and linguistic cross-transfusion.
In website reviewing and commentary, SLiP declared at its inception that it would not seek to be all things to all people, or to cover every possible literary-cultural topic. We have maintained a tight focus on major literary-cultural issues, important and emergent writers, and significant new publications in the field of South African writing – in all languages, and across all lines. (The slipway tracks embedded in the SLiP logo signifies crossings and intersections of any and all kinds. We reject all exclusivist agendas and partisan solidarities apart from a commitment to the project of literary writing and performance.)
SLiP continues to adhere to a code of reviewing ethics in which gratuitous hatchet-jobs and personal agendas, or buddy-reviews, are discouraged. SLiP’s reviews, over the past two years, have provided reliable descriptive detail as well as substantiated evaluative comment.
In its community activities, SLiP has joined forces with the community engagement division of Stellenbosch University in an outreach programme involving schools in the area around Stellenbosch whose task it is to educate disadvantaged young South Africans. (See Community tab for more details.)
Finally, SLiP acts as an electronic archive for the events in which it is engaged, and for the reviews of new books commissioned by it. In time, SLiP hopes to become engaged in electronic publishing projects, including an accredited online academic journal.
Welcome to our world – please SLiP in and join us.
WHAT OTHERS SAY ABOUT SLiP
South Africa is a place that’s woefully bereft of platforms where writers, new or established, can find space to share insights or even anxieties – and SLiP fills this void. I strongly support its creation and hope the powers that be – be it government or the private sector – will realise it’s also to their advantage that SLiP gets the funding it needs to fulfil its commitment to South African letters and culture.
Chairperson of Multichoice (Pty) Ltd
SLiP seems the most interesting intersection between writing, the internet, and South African culture that’s happening right now, and could be as central to early 21st century culture as any of the journals and spaces which defined South African writing in the past fifty years.
Novelist and critic
Acting Director: Creative Writing Programme
University of Cape Town
Wonderful initiative. I share your sentiment! As alternative as one can get is what is needed here in this selfcongratulating basaar-tafelkultuur van meestal gedienstig, gedweë, gesellige koeksisters!
Marlene van Niekerk
Novelist, poet, professor
In a media climate where space devoted to book reviews in newspapers is rapidly diminishing, and where reviewing is being handled with less care than it deserves, the Stellenbosch Literary Project (SLiP) is absolutely essential. It provides a space for a discourse about books that would not otherwise be aired. In fact this discourse is fast fading from the grasp of “ordinary South Africans”, outside of the hallowed halls of academia. Professor Leon de Kock is to be commended for having assembled a remarkable collection of reviewers, among them academics and writers, to grace the website, each bringing their own following and ensuring its success. The continuation of this creative and dynamic website is absolutely necessary.
Former Books Editor
Debating important literary and cultural issues, supporting emergent writers, profiling established writers – the importance of all of these in the current South African context cannot be stressed enough. That this should happen, on SLiPnet, in all languages and across all lines, seems to me an important initiative towards establishing an open and unsegregated South African literature.
Prizewinning novelist and artist
‘n Onafhanklike kulturele webblad waar sowel Afrikaanse as Engelse boeke in beide landstale geresenseer word deur kundige lesers word sterk aanbeveel in hierdie tyd waarin Afrikaanse boekeblaaie genasionaliseer word. Dit is ook noodsaaklik om ‘n sterker intellektuele bydrae te kry vir dosente, studente en navorsers.
Poet, novelist and critc
Professor of Afrikaans Literature & Creative Writing
University of Cape Town
Slipnet seems to me to offer outreach without condescension: informed people writing intelligently, without the wordiness of academic discourse, but also without any dumbing down. Attractively packaged but never merely gimmicky, it makes available to a wider audience the cutting-edge thinking of some leading academics. It is topical without being superficial, serious without being solemn. May it survive and grow into a power in the land.
Emeritus Professor of English
University of Stellenbosch
In our public discourse, which is the very soul of a nation, values such as nuance, depth, wisdom and understanding seem to be under attack and weakening. However, we know that this country is affluent in human capital, people with sharp minds and big hearts. It is only that their voices are often being muted in the general noise. That is why we need – not as a luxury but as an essential sustenance of life – every remaining forum for critical discussion, especially one as exceptional as SLiP.
Frederik de Jager
Penguin South Africa (formerly publisher at Umuzi, an imprint of Random House Struik)
Given the dearth of platforms for quality, lengthy literary reviews in the country’s mainstream (and specialist) media, SLiPnet could fulfil a vital role in stimulating and extending discourses on literature. The fact that SliPnet remunerates its contributors, aids in professionalising criticism and thus contributes towards sustaining this necessary activity, which is not only intellectually profitable for authors but helps educate and grow audiences for literature.
South African Writers and Critics Association (SAAWCA)
The South African literary review is a dying genre, chiefly because it does not attract government subsidy funding in the way that Department of Education-accredited journal articles do. Academics are therefore increasingly reluctant to write reviews. This means that important works in the field go largely unremarked and unnoticed, which in turn has a dire effect on the publication of such works, and so on, in a downward spiral. A lively, well-funded literary review platform that carries considered reviews by experts in the field, and that has a quick turnaround time for maximum interest and effect, is therefore vitally needed.
Author, editor, critic and professor
Department of English
University of Johannesburg