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ZAPP (The Southern African Poetry Project)

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ZAPP (The Southern African Poetry Project)

ZAPP (The Southern African Poetry Project)




ZAPP (The Southern African Poetry Project) is a joint-project of the Centre for Commonwealth Education (University of Cambridge) and the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg (WITS), to promote poetry in schools both in RSA and the UK.


ZAPP (The Southern African Poetry Project) is a sister project to the pioneering Caribbean Poetry Project ( The chief aims of ZAPP are to promote southern African poetry (in English) in schools in South Africa and the UK – to instil knowledge, understanding and a love of poetry in young learners. ZAPP is a joint-project of the Centre for Commonwealth Education (University of Cambridge) and the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, (WITS), and will also work with the Poetry Archive ( to put recordings of southern African poetry online.

About the Project

Launched in 2013, the Southern African Poetry Project – ZAPP – brings together leading poets, teachers, educationalists, scholars, publishers and arts administrators in an exciting collaboration working to:

•develop joint research with the University of Cambridge and the University of the Witwatersrand on Southern African poetry

•develop and extend knowledge, understanding and creative engagement with southern African poetry among secondary school students aged 11–18

•support teachers (in the UK and in South Africa) in developing knowledge and understanding of Southern African poetry and in becoming confident in tackling it creatively in the classroom

•increase the representation of southern African poets on the Poetry Archive

We plan to hold a symposium in South Africa in 2014 and a conference in Cambridge in 2016 – bringing together the project teams from the UK and South Africa as well as drawing renowned poets, academics and practitioners from around the world, providing the opportunity to disseminate research outcomes and focus on the impact of southern African poetry in UK and South African classrooms.

Publications will include joint research articles in refereed journals, a ‘book of the course’ and an anthology of southern African poetry for young adults.

Poet Advisors

We are honoured to have some leading international poets as advisors for our project, and the Poets Laureate, Carol Ann Duffy (UK) and Professor Keorapetse Kgositsile (South Africa), as our patrons.

Sir Andrew Motion studied at University College, Oxford and is currently Professor of Creative Writing at Royal Holloway, University of London. He is a notable poet, biographer, essayist and critic, and a renowned writer of memoirs. He was Poet Laureate from 1999–2009, during which he set up many initiatives including the online Poetry Archive with Richard Carrington. He served as Chair of the Man Booker Prize in 2010. The Cinder Path is published by Faber.

Olive Senior was born and brought up in Jamaica (to which she regularly returns) and studied at Carleton University, Ottowa. She now lives in Toronto, Canada. Recognised internationally as a distinguished, award-winning poet, she is also esteemed as a writer of short stories, a journalist, journal editor, scholar and tutor of creative writing. Gardening in the Tropics is one of her most highly regarded collections.


“The Poetry Archive has already embraced English language poetry from Australia, New Zealand and the Caribbean – and been tremendously enriched by them; the prospect of including English Language poets from South Africa is deeply exciting; it will be a consolidation and a diversification at one and the same time.”   Andrew Motion

“Poetry matters because it is a tool for helping us to discover who we are. As individuals, …, as citizens of the world. All praise to this initiative that aims to free poetry from its tag as ‘boring subject’ and relocate it in the hearts and minds of teachers and students as a lifelong gift to be savoured and treasured.” Olive Senior

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