About

FAROUK ASVAT: BIOGRAPHY

[] please check out my blogs @:

poems: www.faroukasvat-poems.blogspot.com

weapons of words: www.faroukasvat-viewpoint.blogspot.com

piquante: www.faroukasvat-piquant.blogspot.com

piqued: www.faroukasvat-piqued.blogspot.com

Quran: www.Quran-faroukasvat.blogspot.com

books by farouk asvat: www.faroukasvat-books.blogspot.com

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google+: www.google.com/+FaroukAsvat

linkedin: www.linkedin.com/farouk-asvat/

facebook: www.facebook.com/faroukasvat

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amazon kindle author @ www.amazon.com/author/faroukasvat

> farouk.asvat@gmail.com <

FAROUK ASVAT          a biography

POLITICAL HARASSMENT

FAROUK ASVAT was banned by the South African regime between 1973 and 1978; and nominated an Amnesty International “Prisoner of Conscience” during this period.  He was denied a passport until 1986 when he was issued with a highly restricted document; being granted limited passports in 1987 and 1988 to take up his scholarships.  From 1971 to 1995 Farouk Asvat received numerous death threats from both the Security Police of the apartheid regime; and then from the African National Congress/United Democratic Front/Congress of South African Trade Union alliance on the supposed left of the political spectrum from 1984 onwards, for his views and writings – including from writers belonging to this alliance.  An attempt was also made on his life in 1995 by the above organisations.

AWARDS

Farouk Asvat won the Vita Literary Award for southern Africa for his anthology, A Celebration of Flames.  He was awarded the Fulbright Scholarship to the University of California at Berkeley, for creative writing and post graduate work in English literature; the EOC Scholarship to the Vrije Universiteit in the Netherlands; and a scholarship by the University of Cape Town Health Care Trust to research the socio-economic-political situation under apartheid (which was serialised in two newspapers).  He was awarded the Kwanzaa Honors Certificate by the Africa Network in the United States for his contribution to Horses: Athlone.  His poem, “Possibilities for a Man Hunted by SBs” was selected to represent South Africa in the International Portland Review.  He was nominated an Amnesty International “Prisoner of Conscience” in the 1970’s.

PUBLICATIONS:

Sadness In The House Of Love (novel) [amazon & kindle 2015]

The Gathering Of The Storm (novel) [amazon & kindle 2016]

I Dream In Long Sentences [amazon & kindle 2015]

The Wind Still Sings Sad Songs [piquant 2006]; [amazon & kindle 2014]

A Celebration Of Flames [donker 1987]; [piquant 2007]; [heller fund, berkeley, usa, 1988];

[amazon & kindle 2014]

The Time Of Our Lives [black thoughts 1982];  [piquant 2007]; [amazon & kindle 2014]

Bra Frooks … [piquant 2006]; [amazon & kindle 2014]

 

MEDICAL DOCTOR

He qualified as a medical doctor at the University of the Witwatersrand, but was unable to secure an internship for two and a half years because of “political listing;” and subsequently had difficulties at various hospitals and clinics in finding a job.  He worked at the Zanempilo Community Health Centre in Zinyoka – in contravention of his banning order – , at the time of its closure by the regime on 19 October 1977.  He subsequently worked at Northdale, Hillbrow and Coronation hospitals, at the Alexander Health Centre, and at the University of the Witwatersrand Campus Clinic.  He has also been in private practice, and worked as a consultant for a drug rehabilitation programme, an orphanage, and for the SA Red Cross.

PUBLISHED IN:

His short stories, poems and essays have been published in:

UNITED STATES: International Portland Review, Berkeley Poetry Review, Gar, Saasm  News, Screens And Tasted Parallels; Processed World; Illuminations; Culture In Another South Africa; African Literature In The Eighties; WherePoetry24; Requiem magazine & Goodreads.

CANADA: Descant.

BRAZIL: Cadernos Do Terceiro Mundo.

TURKEY: Çağdaş Güney Afrïka Şïrï Antolojïsï  

SWITZERLAND: Geneve-Afrique.

NETHERLANDS: Vrije Azania, O Nag, Kom Gou, Bly Weg!; Zuid; and the poems from his anthology A Celebration of Flames, translated into Dutch as Een Feest Van Vlammen, are published on the blogspot: faroukasvat-poems.

FRANCE: Notre Libraire; Europe: Afrique de Sud.

GERMANY: Matatu; Awa-Finnaba; Englisch Amerikanische Studien; Dokumente Texte Und Tendenzen: South African Literature; Crisis and Conflict: essays on southern African literature; Sudafrika-Stipendienfonds; Perspectives 5: South Africa; South Africa: the privileged and the dispossessed.

ENGLAND: Index on Censorship, The Race Today Review, Wasafiri.

SOUTH AFRICA: English Academy Review; Staffrider; Imprint; Izwi; New Classic; Realities; Upstream; Wietie; Sesame; New Contrast; Critique; Writers’ Forum; Tribute; The Star; The Sunday Times; The Voice; The Indicator; Sowetan; Muslim News; Exiles Within: Seven South African Poets; Horses: Athlone; Belgravia High School; Benoni Students Movement; Shosholoza; University Students Bursary Committee; Vuka; Western Areas Table Tennis Association; Voices From Within; New Inscapes; Reconstruction; The Return Of The Amasi Bird; Some Roses, a Hamburgher, an AK47 and a Puddle; Poskaarte; Worldscapes; Broken Strings; Ten Years of Staffrider; My Drum; Ourselves in Southern Africa; The Lonely Art; Poetry 2000; A Writer in Stone; The Paperbook of South African English Poetry; The Vita Anthology of New South African Short Fiction; A New University Anthology of English Poetry; Northern Lights, Southern Star; The Lonely Art; Poetry 2000; Botsotso; The Living Tradition; Voices From All Over; kagablog; al Qalam; The Jo’burg Book: a guide to the city’s history, people and places; Inleiding Tot Die Reg En Regsvaardighede in Suid-Afrika; & Introduction to Law and Legal Skills (Oxford University Press).

His poems have been extensively reviewed in South Africa and abroad by The Rand Daily Mail, The Star, Sowetan, The Sunday Times, New Nation, The Graphic, The Leader, Natal Post, The Indicator, Lenasia Times, Gauteng Times, Islamic Focus, Financial Mail, Business Day, Style, Upstream, National English Literary Museum News; Grocott’s Mail, Staffrider, al Qalam, Sunday Tribune, Weekend Argus, Daily Dispatch, Weekly Mail, Third World Quarterly Literary Review, and Commonwealth Essay & Studies.

His poems have been translated into French, German, Dutch, Portuguese, and Turkish.

READINGS

He has read his poems at numerous community halls, cinemas, cafes, schools, universities, colleges, bookshops, political meetings and trade union gatherings, and to art groups and poetry festivals in South Africa and abroad, including Holland, Belgium, France, Germany, England, Canada and the United States: including the XIth Conference on Commonwealth Literature in Aachen and Liege, the 7th Third World and Radical Black Book Fair in London, the 2nd Bad Boll Conference on South African Literature in Germany, the Culture in Another South Africa (CASA) Conference in Amsterdam, to the English Olympiad finalists at King Edward VII School, Johannesburg, at the universities of the Witwatersrand, the Western Cape, Leiden, Vrije, and Berkeley. He inaugurated the Steve Biko Foundation Biko 3030 Community Festival in Johannesburg (2007).

His poems have been read on SABC Radio and performed by the Performing Arts Council of the Transvaal.

They have also been read in London, Paris, Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Grenoble, Berlin, Stockholm, San Francisco, Washington DC, Toronto and Moscow.

He has been interviewed for radio by BBC Book World, BBC Arts and Africa, BBC Topical Tapes and London Calling; Radio Antilles; and Radio Deutsche Welle; and for print by The Star, Weekly Mail, Tribute, Azania Vrije and Cadernos Do Terceiro Mundo; and on youtube.

JOURNALISM

He has freelanced as a journalist, columnist and art critic for the Sowetan, The Star, The Indicator, The Voice, Grassroots, and Muslim News.

POLITICAL & COMMUNITY ACTIVITY

Farouk Asvat initiated the Black Thoughts group that toured the townships in 1973 with the musical group Dashiki. He was also a founder of the New Dawn Poets, Vision Publications and the Writers’ Forum; and he has worked with various political, community and artistic groups, including Vakalisa and eKapa in Cape Town; Community Awareness Theatre, Black Peoples’ Convention, South African Students’ Organisation, Black Community Programmes, the National Forum, the Black Students’ Society, the University Students’ Bursary Committee, the Institute of Black Research, and the Alexandra Art Centre.

LECTURES

He delivered a paper on “The Sad Splendour of Latin American Literature” at the launching of the Writers’ Forum.  His essay “Creativity and Development: A Critical Look At Black South African Literature in the Context of Third World and Western Fiction,” was presented at Leiden University, and at the XIth Conference on Commonwealth Literature held at Aachen and Liege, and published in “Crisis and Conflict: Essays on Southern African Literature”.  He guest-lectured at Berkeley University in classes on South African Literature under the auspices of Prof Abdul JanMohamed.

GRADUATE SEMINARS & CREATIVE WRITING CLASSES

He attended Creative Writing classes run by Sandra Cisneros, Ishmael Reed, Stephen Gray and Lionel Abrahams.  He took part in post-graduate seminars on African literatures under Prof Mineke Scheepers at the Vrije University in Amsterdam. He also participated in graduate seminars conducted by Prof Genaro Padilla on minority and ethnic literatures, on African-American texts by Prof Abdul JanMohamed, and on literatures under colonialism by Dr David Lloyd; He also audited classes by John Bishop, Ron Lowinsohn, Hugh Richmond, and Elizabeth Abel at the University of California at Berkeley, USA.

[] NOVELS (complete)

[] A C**** H****** (a quartet):

[] book 1: The ******* of ****** (novel)

[] book 2: Sadness in the House of Love (novel) [amazon & kindle 2015]

[] book 3: The Gathering of The Storm (novel) [amazon & kindle 2016]

[] book 4: In The ****** of ****** (novel)

[] Weapons of Words (literary essays)

Well-advanced works in progress:

[] The ****** Of Apartheid (extended poem)

[] The Poets Are …… (extended poem)

[] An ******* Through a ………. (extended poem)

[] The ******* of the ******* (extended poem)

[] ****** in Black and White (photographs)

[] In the ****** of the S******* cr*ss

(essays, reviews, articles and journalism under apartheid)

[] C************** with Myself (memoir)

[] The *** of Medical Emergencies [a handbook)

[] Quran: english translation

[] M*****s: a critique of literatures of the oppressor and the oppressed under colonialism, imperialism and discrimination (ethnicism, religionism, sexism and racism:  1492-1992).

REVIEWS

FAROUK ASVAT : Winner Of The Vita Award

” ‘A Celebration Of Flames’  is a powerful, impassioned call.  The sanity and courage of this collection arises from the poet’s unique experiential perceptions of his milieu, making him one of the few who can write about these traumatic times with such lucidity and lyricism.  The strength of Farouk Asvat’s poetry lies in the way he intertwines the complex elements of social and political conflicts with intense personal relationships.  The wide tonal range extends from sensual and delicate insights into the nature of passion to the satiric and humorous use of slang.”

VITA AWARD citation 

“Like hesitating snowflakes … his words are fascinating in their capricious willfulness … like unexpected strokes of a whip.”

SUSANNE BAACKMANN, University Of Albuquerque 

“Farouk Asvat … writes about love and suffering, about individualism, snobbishness, pretence and pride, about human and environmental beauty and about opposing oppression, and who deploys metaphysical, lyrical and colloquial language, slang and standard diction, all with equal strength and ease.”

COSMO PIETERSE, Culture In Another South Africa, Netherlands

“Since he has been in the line of fire as both a victim of Apartheid and as a political voice in the struggle for liberation , his evocation of the contemporary South African battlefield and his testimony of the humiliation ,isolation, deprivation, degradation and murder, the collective weapons of Apartheid, are chillingly authentic.”

HERBERT STEYN, to the English Olympiad finalists at King Edward VII School.

A Celebration of Flames (is) a powerful, impassioned call.  I admire the sanity and courage of this.  Your position and perception make you one of the few who can write on this subject without obscenity.”

LIONEL ABRAHAMS, editor, Purple Renoster & Sesame 

“The legend of poet extraordinaire Farouk Asvat: … like vintage wine, proper poetry matures with time, and like vintage art the voice and wisdom of a poet worth the name is timeless.”

MPHUTLANE WA BOFELO, kagablog:

kaganof.com/kagablog/2007/11/08/straight-talk-from-bra-frooks-the-legend-of-farouk-asvat/

“… you almost catch your breath at some of the stanzas … you can re-read it several times and be struck by new ideas, metaphors, elegiac surprises, and the heartfelt poignancy …”

AGGREY KLAASTE, editor, Sowetan 

“His love poetry soars with an intense sensitivity, it celebrates lyrically the joys of a most exquisite sensuousness.”

MARCIA LEVESON, University of the Witwatersrand, in The Indicator 

A Celebration of Flames is so near to the bone, so full of despair and sanity.  There is such gentleness and sadness in the love poetry …”

DEBBIE ARENDS, University Of The Witwatersrand 

“… one of the most prolific – and controversial – South African poets ”

JON QWELANE, editor, Sunday Star 

” … carries conviction and conveys a mounting tension which can be glancingly lyrical and simultaneously politically authoritative.”

PETER WILHELM, Financial Mail 

“Farouk Asvat’s award-winning collection of poems crackles with a passionate consuming pace …”

Z B MOLEFE, arts editor, City Press 

The Time of Our Lives reveals a writer who enjoys words: he has a sense of rhythm close to TS Eliot and an eye for the modern image.”

BRIAN ROSE, Rand Daily Mail 

“Here is the poetry which in its very contradictions explores accurately the emotional terrain and tensions of life in the townships today.”

KELWYN SOLE, University of Cape Town, in Staffrider 

“Asvat’s poems … with many depths, clever twists and juxtapositions, are exciting, true, and thought-provoking.”

WENDY VOGT & ALAN JAMES, Upstream 

“Out of an angry silence, a polished poet is born.”

ANTON HARBER, editor, Weekly Mail 

“… one of the best poets in the country …”

GOMOLEMO MOKAE, The Star Tonight 

“… ringing celebrations and criticisms of recent political events … this collection is an important addition to South African poetry.”

FRANCIS FALLER, Jhb College of Education, in Tribute magazine 

“… Farouk Asvat regards the honed word as a means of interrogating the slogans and dreams of the revolution.”

MICHAEL CHAPMAN, Southern African Review 

“Asvat’s distrust of rhetorical formulas produces a language that is capable of interrogating the dreams and slogans of the revolution.”

JULIA MARTIN, Upstream 

“A common feature of the volume is the mingling of internal and external reality into internal psychological disturbance.”

DUNCAN BROWN, English Academy Review 

“This anthology contains some of the finest political poems published in the past two decades ….”

HEATHER MACKIE, Business Day 

“Asvat … explores … the turbulence and fragility of life under apartheid and the sustaining power of love in these times.”

ANDREW MARTIN, National English Literary Museum News 

“Asvat’s poem (‘Possibilities for a Man Hunted by SBs’) is a clear and simple statement of the true state of affairs … reducible to mathematical terms.”

MBULELO MZAMANE, Perspectives On South African English Literature 

“Asvat’s imagery is stark … his poems taut encapsulations of the injustices wreaked on Black people.”

ASHA RAMBALLY, The Graphic 

The Wind Still Sings Sad Songs … is an important addition to any discerning reader’s literary collection.”

VICTOR METSOAMERE, Sowetan 

A Celebration of Flames” has hit the local best-sellers list – a rare feat for a volume of poetry.”

AMEEN AKHALWAYA, editor, The Indicator 

“He conveys a vivid sense of the country’s agony, of the brutalization of all those involved in political conflict. ”

NEW NATION 

“It bears testimony to the resilience and courage of the oppressed in South Africa … His poetry is devastatingly forthright and hard-hitting.”

TYRONE AUGUST, The Star 

“Farouk Asvat’s incisive understanding of human nature and … evocative description of South African lifestyle under the draconian laws of apartheid.”

LENASIA TIMES 

“… (his) poems mirror deep sorrow, passion and the pain of love.  Yet others glint with a quicksilver humour and are effectively salted with the slang of street-talk.”

NEILL DARKE, Weekend Argus 

“… they posses considerable power … Effective imagery abounds.”

ELSPETH JOHNSON, Daily Dispatch

A Celebration of Flames by Farouk Asvat addresses the intercommunal atrocities that occurred.”

PRIYA NARISMULU, Journal Of Language And Popular Culture In Africa 

” … a guided tour of the souls of the South Africans he writes about and cares about.  …  Hauntingly universal …”

THOMAS ROME, New York 

“… a love imagery entwined with pain, blood and violence …”

JOSEFA SALMÓN, Loyola University, USA 

“… an almost palpable tenderness for a country whom the poet alludes to as if she were a lover.”

NEELA ALVAREZ-PEREYRE, Commonwealth Essays & Studies 

“Poetry is not viewed primarily as an art form, but rather as the vital expression of a people struggling to voice its soul …”

 

PHYLLIS BISCHOF, The Journal Of  Academic Librarianship,

University of California at Berkeley, USA

“In “Bra Frooks …” Asvat uses witty, humorous, sarcastic and satiric language to expose the contradictions, emotional terrains and tensions in both Apartheid and post-Apartheid South Africa.  He uses the lingo, voice and logic of the man and woman in the street to expose the absurdity of political repression and social control and the mediocrity and hypocrisy of political and religious dogmatism.  The tenacity and resilience of people in the face of repression and suppression is exhibited by their ability to see the humorous side of every situation, laughing at the short-sightedness of their oppressors as well as having a good laugh at themselves.  This playfulness and wittiness of slang language comes in handy, especially where Asvat uses narrative, monologue, dialogue/dramatic techniques …”  MPHUTLANE WA BOFELO, Bluesology and Bofelosophy  

 

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