EDITOR’S CHOICE: Category — ARTS & CULTURE
Tjawangwa Dema [email protected]
Poet and copywriter
Tjawangwa Dema (TJ Dema) is a poet, workshop facilitator, voice-over artist and arts administrator who has performed in countries throughout the world.
She participated in Lancaster University’s Crossing Borders programme and later mentored the all-female team of national champions for the British Council’s seven country Power in the Voice initiative. She is also an honorary fellow of the University of Iowa’s International Writing Program (2012) and former chairperson of the Writers Association of Botswana.
TJ Dema was Botswana’s country representative at the London 2012 Poetry Parnassus and was granted a Danish International Visiting Artist (DIVA) fellowship in 2014. For her work within Botswana’s literary community she was named an Arise Magazine African Changemaker (2013) and a St Louis Top 40 Under 40 Catalyst (2014). TJ Dema’s chapbook, Mandible (2014), was published by Slapering Hol Press for the African Poetry Book Fund as part of the Seven New Generation African Poets. She is currently a recipient of Lancaster University’s scholarship for an MA in creative writing.
She has read in and facilitated workshops around the world. Dema has been a guest writer for Warwick University’s International Gateway for Gifted Youth and her poetry has appeared in several international journals, including translations of her work.
She runs Sauti A&PM, a Botswana-based arts administration organisation and live literature company with a particular interest in poetry, spoken word, theatre, staged readings, text incorporating music and/or dance. Sauti A&PM has recorded over 40 Batswana poets on CD as well as for the pan-African poetry archive Badilisha Poetry Xchange. It has also facilitated a gift of hundreds of contemporary poetry books and journals by international award-winning writers to the Gaborone Public Library. The gift, sourced through the African Poetry Book Fund, led to the opening of the country’s first poetry reading room.
TJ Dema does literature work with young people in after school programs and occasionally in detention/asylum centres. As a voice-over artist and copywriter, she writes and voices for radio and television. She was also written into a local television series to play herself. In the lead up to Botswana’s 50th independence anniversary celebrations, TJ Dema is a curator for the SAUTI presents poetry: The people are talking series and has given a TED talk at the first-ever TEDXGaborone. — SPIKE GANETSANG