- Category: PA 2011
TJ Dema was born in Gaborone, Botswana in 1981. A spoken-word poet, Dema also runs Sauti Arts and Performance Management, an arts administration company, and is chairperson of The Writers Association of Botswana and a board member of the Children in Performing Arts Trust.
In 2005 and the following year, Dema was a participant in the British Council and Lancaster University’s Crossing Borders project. In 2007 and 2008 she was mentor to the Power in the Voice national champions and has been guest writer for the University of Warwick’s International Gateway for Gifted Youth (IGGY) programme.
Dema has performed at various international festivals including France, Denmark, India, South Africa and Zimbabwe and was a delegate at the 31st Cambridge Seminar on Contemporary Literature in England. She is part of the bi-continental poetry and music ensemble Sonic Slam Chorus.
In 2010, a selection of Dema’s poems was translated into Chinese. She co-edited the 30thanniversary edition of Mahube, a national literary journal. She has recently recorded a CD of 12 Batswana poets in 3 different languages. In a performance career spanning a decade, her influences have ranged from different genres of music to everyday folks on the street.
Of her passion for words, Dema says: “I have always taken words - especially the spoken word - very seriously. We speak things into being; by expressing an opinion or thinking a thing out loud, you summon the intention behind it. It isn’t, but it is that simple.