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SU academics and alumnus awarded ATKV Woordveertjies
Author: Daniel Bugan
Published: 22/09/2021

Three academics and an alumnus of Stellenbosch University (SU) were recently honoured with ATKV Woordveertjie awards for their extraordinary literary contributions. The Woordveertjies are awarded annually in recognition of exceptional achievements in Afrikaans literary art.

Stephanus Muller and Stephanie Vos

Prof Stephanus Muller and Dr Stephanie Vos from the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences received the 2021 ATKV Woordveertjie for non-fiction for their book Sulke vriende is skaars: Die briewe van Arnold van Wyk en Anton Hartman, 1949-1981 (“Such friends are rare: The letters of Arnold van Wyk and Anton Hartman, 1949-1981"), published by Protea Boekhuis.

The book contains the annotated letter correspondence between Van Wyk and Hartman, two seminal figures in South African Western art music. The publication has made a significant contribution to the discipline of South African music historiography, as well as to Afrikaner and apartheid historiography. In addition to the letters, the book contains important photographs, copies of facsimiles, telegrams and other forms of correspondence.

“Recognition is important for authors and academics, but, in this case, the recognition extends to the subject matter," says Muller, the director of the Africa Open Institute for Music, Research and Innovation, an independent institute at SU.

“It is important that this award lends a degree of prominence to the correspondence between these two music scholars, discussing their discipline. We highly appreciate the initiative taken by the ATKV to make awards such as these. It means that the content of the book has made its way into the public discourse in a different way than would have been the case otherwise."

Vos, a lecturer in the Department of Music, is equally honoured by the recognition their book has received. “It's so rare for what essentially started out as an academic project to get this kind of public exposure and reach a broader readership in this way," she says.

“Many people have helped to usher this work into existence. We especially acknowledge Hanna Botha, who was instrumental in bringing together the archive on which the project is based, and our publisher, Protea, for their commitment to shape the book into the beautiful object it is." The book has been dedicated to Botha, who headed up Special Collections at the SU Library for many years.

Muller has published widely both locally and internationally, and received SU's Chancellor's Award for Research in 2015. His 2014 book Nagmusiek was awarded the Eugѐne Marais prize by the Suid-Afrikaanse Akademie vir Wetenskap en Kuns, the Jan Rabie-Rapport prize, the kykNET-Rapport prize as well as the UJ debut prize for creative writing in Afrikaans.

Vos, in turn, was the project leader of the Interdisciplinary Forum for Popular Music at Africa Open from 2016 to 2020, before she was appointed to her current position. Her contribution to Sulke vriende is skaars came from a research perspective that crossed disciplinary boundaries, and a music practice (South African jazz) that transcended narrow understandings of genre and notions of 'the popular'.

Willem Anker

Dr Willem Anker, a lecturer in Creative Writing in the Department of Afrikaans and Dutch, received the 2021 ATKV Woordveertjie for prose for his third novel, Skepsel, published by Queillerie. The award recognises the best popular Afrikaans prose from the previous calendar year.

“This prize is a great honour and will hopefully give good exposure to our department, and specifically our Creative Writing components and the MA programme in Creative Writing," says Anker.

Over the past few months, Anker has received several accolades for Skepsel. Earlier this month, the novel earned him a second kykNET-Rapport prize, having received the same award for his novel Buys in 2015. The national kykNET-Rapport award recognises and rewards excellence in Afrikaans writing. On 31 March, Skepsel also scooped the 2021 UJ prize.

Pieter Odendaal

SU alumnus Pieter Odendaal was awarded the 2021 ATKV Woordveertjie for best drama script for Droomwerk.

Odendaal's debut Afrikaans poetry collection, Asof geen berge ooit hier gewoon het nie (“As if no mountains ever lived here before"), appeared at Tafelberg Publishers in 2018 and was awarded the prestigious Ingrid Jonker prize in 2019. He is also the co-editor of the multilingual poetry translation anthologies Many tongues (2013) and ConVerse (2018).