Any lover of literature is prone to celebrate the beauty of words in solitude. Books, like most other forms of art, convey their magic in and of themselves.
The only chance any true bibliophile has to know them more intimately, is by getting to their source; the writer.
From Thursday, 1 to Sunday, 4 November, the charming Karoo village of Prince Albert is home to the seventh annual Leesfees, a gathering that brings together some of South Africa’s most prolific writers and new publications.
The event kicks off with the book launch of African Relish’s first recipe book, fresh off the printing press. African Relish Journal, a 120 page collection of characters, memories and recipes from ten years in Prince Albert is very special featuring the incredible food photography of Russel Wasserfall. Each of the 40 recipes in the book was photographed by Russel Wasserfall and styled by resident chef Camilla Comins. The book launch on Thursday evening includes a light snack and is just the place to get to know the people who make African Relish such a gem in Prince Albert.
The first Leesfees was held in 2012 as part of Prince Albert’s 250 year celebration, to pay homage to Karoo writers and poets. During this event, the intimacy of a gathering, that allowed guests to attend book showcases without any interruptions or rushing from one venue to the next, was lain bare, and had such appeal that the Leesfees is now a beloved Prince Albert institution, like Prince Albert Open Studios and Groet is ’n Moet Community Kuier.
Well known thriller authors Deon Meyer, Bettina Wyngaard, Martin Steyn and Jo Nel will be sharing their secrets for creating suspenseful stories, and guests will also have the opportunity to interact with poets Olyn Phillips, Clinton du Plessis, Tony Ulyatt and Gisela Ulyatt and biographers Petrovna Metelerkamp (Ingrid Jonker – die biografie) and Dennis Cruywagen (The Spiritual Mandela).
The festival places emphasis on promoting a love of literature among the youth. Simon Bruinders, Anzil Kulsen and Elsa Winckler (Wanneer is eendag? and ’n Brief vir Reina) form part of the programme, while local artists Louisa Punt-Fouché (Rarest Riverine Rabbit and Ek skryf met bloed en bene) discusses her mechanisms for inspiration.
Johannes de Villiers (Kalmte in die malle gejaag), Julian Jansen (Die De Zalze-moorde) and André le Roux (Narsiste, psigopate, stalkers en sadiste en Waarom mans altyd reg is … en ander onnoselhede) will cater for those who are interested in psychological literature.
Jeremy Vearey, Abigail Calata and Karin Cronjé will discuss travel and roots literature.
Finally, the Leesfees will also be celebrating local music, with performances by Oom Hannes Coetzee and Hatchetman at The Showroom Theatre.
Unlike many other art festivals that play a massive part in celebrating and promoting South African literature, the Prince Albert Leesfees’ special character lies in the majesty of its setting. The village is brimming with delightful restaurants and delis, art galleries, speciality shops, outdoor activities, attractions and a wide variety of accommodation. All of this is set against the backdrop of the peaceful Karoo, devoid of any rush or interruptions.
The Prince Albert Leesfees boasts a helpful website with integrated online ticket sales. Book your tickets at www.princealbertleesfees.org. Download the Prince Albert Leesfees App from the App Store or Google Play to stay up to date on programme and last minute news.
For more information about activities and events in and around the village and to book accommodation for the Prince Albert Leesfees, visit Prince Albert Tourism’s website at www.princealbert.org.za. Plus, check out Facebook (@PrinceAlbert.WesternCape), Twitter (@prince_albert_tourism) and Instagram (@PrinceAlbertZA).