- Category: PA 2002
Chris Mann obtained his Hon D Litt degree at the University of Durban-Westville and continued his studies as a Rhodes scholar at Oxford where he was awarded the Newdigate Prize for Poetry. He spent over a decade in rural and peri-urban development work in KwaZulu-Natal until the mid 1990's when he moved to Grahamstown to take up the position of Operations Director of the Grahamstown Foundation. His rural development work has led to contact with a wide variety of fellow South Africans and has also provided practical experience of labour-intensive public works, event management, formal and informal education and the promotion of the arts. His writing is also influenced by the use of different South African languages. Chris Mann writes poetry for the page, for performance, and for multi-media presentations using the graphics of modern technology. He also writes plays in verse for the radio and stage.
The artist, Julia Skeen, to whom Chris is married, produces the graphics for the presentations, as well as for his painting-poems in Horn of Plenty. In 1998 Mann started (with others) and is now convenor of Wordfest, a national multi-lingual festival of languages & literatures with a developmental emphasis which takes place annually at the Grahamstown Festival. Chris spends part of each year on the road, presenting programmes of poetry work to schools, university and adult groups, using slides projected onto a portable screen. He also wrote and performed the song-lyrics in Zulu and English for Zabalaza, a cross-over band and winner of the SATV's Follow that Star. Chris Mann has received many awards, including the Olive Schreiner Prize for S.A. Poetry, and SA Performing Arts Councils Playwright of the Year. His latest book, Heartlands, will be launched at Poetry Africa 2002 by University of Natal Press.
South Africa Publications:
First Poems, 1977, Bateleur Press (out of print)
New Shades, 1982, David Philip (out of print)
Kites and other poems, 1990, David Philip
Mann Alive! 1992 (video of performance poems with a booklet of texts), David Philip
The Horn of Plenty, 1997, ISEA, Rhodes University
South Africans, 1996 (reprinted 1998), University of Natal Press
Heartlands, 2002, University of Natal Press