S9 E6 Gabeba Baderoon, Roger Reeves & Bongani Kona: Intimacy & Interiority
Bongani Kona interviews Gabeba Baderoon and Roger Reeves about their books The History of Intimacy and Dark Days: Fugitive Essays. They remember early transformative encounters with literature and their beginnings as writers. They also confer about essays, poetry, interior lives, family and their current projects. Roger reads from his essay “Reading Fire, Reading the Stars” in addition to his poems “Grendel” and “After the Funeral”. Gabeba reads her poems “Give” and “The Flats”.
Bongani Kona is a writer, editor and lecturer in the Department of Historical Studies at the University of the Western Cape. He is a board member of PEN South Africa.
Gabeba Baderoon is the author of Regarding Muslims: from Slavery to Post-apartheid as well as the poetry collections, The Dream in the Next Body, A Hundred Silences and The History of Intimacy. She's the co-editor, with Desiree Lewis, of the essay collection, Surfacing: On Being Black and Feminist in South Africa. Gabeba is an Associate Professor in Women's, Gender and Sexuality Studies, African Studies and Comparative Literature at Penn State University.
Roger Reeves is the author of two poetry collections, King Me and Best Barbarian. Dark Days: Fugitive Essays was published by Graywolf Press in 2023. His essays have appeared in Granta, The Virginia Quarterly, The Yale Review and elsewhere. Roger is an Associate Professor of English and Creative Writing at the University of Texas at Austin.
In this episode we are in solidarity with the collective case of 12 Eritrean writers and journalists imprisoned in 2001. They are: Dawit Isaak, Fessehaye ‘Joshua’ Yohannes, Seyoum Tsehaye, Said Abdelkadir, Methanie Haile, Temesegen Ghebreyesuy, Yousif Mohammed Ali, Amanuel Asrat, Dawit Habtemichael, Matheos Habteab, Sahle ‘Wedi-ltay’ Tsefezab and Said Idris ‘Abu Are’.
We join PEN International, PEN Eritrea in Exile and PEN centres around the world in calling on the authorities in Eritrea to free them. You can read more about their case here: https://www.pen-international.org/our-campaigns/day-of-the-imprisoned-writer-2021
As tributes to them, Gabeba reads “All You Who Sleep Tonight” by Vikram Seth and Roger reads “Preliminary Question” by Aimé Césaire (translated by A. James Arnold and Clayton Eshleman).
This podcast series is made possible by a grant from the U.S. Embassy in South Africa to promote open conversation and highlight shared histories.