Winner of the 2018 Sillerman First Book Prize

Tjawangwa Dema / TJ Dema is a poet, arts administrator and teaching artist whose poems have appeared in The New Orleans Review, The Kalahari ReviewCordite Review and elsewhere. Her chapbook Mandible (Slapering Hol Press, 2014) was selected for publication by The African Poetry Book Fund as part of the Seven New Generation African Poets boxset. The Careless Seamstress (University of Nebraska Press, 2019) won the Sillerman Prize for African Poetry.

Her work has been supported by The Danish Arts Council, the Vermont Studio Centre and Northwestern University’s Alice Kaplan Institute for the Humanities among others. She has been named a Botswana Top 40 under 40 Catalyst, as well as Mail and Guardian Editor’s Choice award recipient.

Formerly chairperson of the Writer’s Association of Botswana, Dema is an Honorary Fellow of The University of Iowa’s International Writing Program. She has read her poetry in places including Rio, New York, Lagos, Berlin, Delhi, Paris, Harare, Medellin, London and Johannesburg. Her poems have been translated into Spanish, German, Chinese and Swedish, re-worked by bands into lyrics, used for theatre and dance collaborations, recorded as videos and dropped from a helicopter over London. She holds an MA in Creative Writing from Lancaster University (with distinction) and facilitates writing and performance workshops around the globe.

Tjawangwa Dema’s poems are as bold, roving, and insistent as they are delicate and incisive. The Careless Seamstress is a ravishing debut —Tracy K. Smith, U.S. poet laureate and author of Wade in the Water: Poems

Interests: Gender, Labour (physical | emotional | unpaid), Motherhood, the Female Body, Domesticity, the fe/male gaze, Eco-poetics, Poetics of Enquiry, Slowness (Listening | Arts of Noticing), Blackness ( Africa | Botswana | Language, etc.), Reading Out Loud, the Religious Imaginary