POETRY POTION: Who is Botsotso Publishing?
BOTSOTSO PUBLISHING: Botsotso Publishing is a group of poets, writers, performers and visual artists – Ike Mboneni Wangu Muila, Allan Kolski Horwitz, Anna Varney (always willing to do layout & design for us).
PP: How long has the collective been publishing books?
BP: We have been together since 1994. It was a Botsotso Jesters’ initiative to have a publishing platform for both established and new writers and poets. We started it as a four-page insert in the then New Nation newspaper, which reached wider readership.
PP: What makes a collective like yours stay together for all these years?
BP: Our collective has stayed together for all these years, because of our passion and commitment for literature
PP: Why did you start publishing the journal?
BP: After attending a lot of readings and performance activities, there arise a need to publish
PP: How do you select what to publish?
BP: We usually divide ourselves when editing. There would be people dealing with poetry, short stories, drama/theatre, visual arts/illustrations, reviews, languages and so forth. After a long period of editing, we come together with our selections. We need something that is fresh and not rhetorical.
PP: The latest journal includes photography, poetry, short stories and fine art, do you often mix the various disciplines, and why?
BP: We often mix the disciplines because they represent a body of art. They complement one another in terms of variety.
PP: What are the challenges that you face in publishing poetry?
BP: Being certain that there will be a publication coming. There also lack of funding in South Africa, which makes it difficult for us to do it on a permanent basis. It’s either a voluntary venture or people are paid on ad hoc basis, especially the technical part.
PP: How does Botsotso (the journal) contribute to the growth poets?
BP: We would not be that big headed and claim to contribute to the growth of poets. I believe it is the poets who contribute to the growth of Botsotso. Because without [deep insightful] contributions from poets and writers we cannot have a journal.
PP: Payment or royalties from published work?
BP: It’s only when there is a contract signed between Botsotso and a contributors. This is only done if a person contributes in an anthology or a volume, but in Botsotso Magazine, it’s only poets, writers and artists pouring their hearts to the readers. I would not call it exposure, like exploiters do.
PP: Botsotso Publishing also played a role in the 2007 Jozi Spoken Word Festival, why did you feel the need organize the festival?
BP: We did not really have a strictly Jozi Spoken Word Festival. We have Time of the Writer and Poetry Africa held in Durban, KZN. We also have Arts Alive and Urban Voices in Jozi, but not all poets or performers are given a platform. Overseas poets and performers are usually given first priority by the organizers (I’m not xenophobic in my observation)
PP: What is the future of Botsotso Jesters and Botsotso Publishing?
BP: We hope to continue publishing both oral and written works in all South African languages. We still are determined to reach a wider readership and audience. This also includes running workshops to plough back to our community.
PP: And the Jozi Spoken Word Festival… should we look forward to it this year?
BP: People should look forward to it. It will take place in August 2008