TJ Dema

I (poet, voice over artist, editor) am an Honorary Fellow in Writing of the University of Iowa. I was Botswana's representative to the London 2012 Cultural Olympiad's Poetry Parnassus and have been a recipient of a Vermont Studio Centre Writers Residency fellowship.
As a spokenword poet I have read in countries including India, Denmark, South Africa and France, running creative writing workshops in cities including London, Harare, Durban and Washington DC.



Tell us about you and how you would you describe your "art"?
I (poet, voice over artist, editor) am an Honorary Fellow in Writing of the University of Iowa. I was Botswana's representative to the London 2012 Cultural Olympiad's Poetry Parnassus and have been a recipient of a Vermont Studio Centre Writers Residency fellowship.
As a spokenword poet I have read in countries including India, Denmark, South Africa and France, running creative writing workshops in cities including London, Harare, Durban and Washington DC. I participated in Lancaster University's Crossing Borders literature program and mentored the national champions for the British Council's Power in the Voice initiative. In 2010 I was guest writer for the University of Warwick's International Gateway for Gifted Youth.
I have been guest editor for Prairie Schooner's Fusion series and during my tenure as Chairperson of the Writers Association of Botswana co-edited Mahube (short stories and poetry from Botswana). My poetry has appeared in The Ofi Press, Hummingbird Review, The World Record, No Serenity here
I have voiced a number of documentaries,my work has been featured on a variety of musical recordings, and in 2011 I produced a CD anthology of 12 Batswana poets. Alongside artists from Norway, Zimbabwe and the UK I am a spoken word lyricist for the experimental band Sonic Slam Chorus.

Where are you based?
I am Based in Botswana but lead a slightly peripatetic lifestyle these days. Poetry has been my passport to the world and I've had the good fortune of traveling to facilitate workshops and give readings in places like France, Denmark, India, USA, UK etc.

Do you come from an artistic background?
I don't come from a specifically artistic background but my father dabbled in scriptwriting (radio plays) and he was a prize winning ballroom dancer and teacher. My mum studied tailoring and enjoys making clothes, though not on a commercial scale.

What inspires you? What are your influences (Who or What)?
There is a beautiful series of poems by James Richardson, vectors 2.3 where he says 'its not success but self-congratulation that the Furies scent' so lets just say that when I'm old and grey I will look back and risk the Furies wrath (hopefully I will have earned that face off then) but for now each day is a new opportunity to learn enough to do a little better.

What are your tools for creating?
Tools? well I suppose my tool box is filled with words, language, a love of literature and pens i still prefer the tactility of writing poems by hand before committing the text to the flattery of a computer screen. I also read more than I write, so books would have to be one of my greatest 'tools'.

What sets you apart from the others?
I don't concern myself with being different, just with being myself. I think I'd rather be the best version of myself than a copy of someone else. Being a writer is for most of us a way of life rather than a for profit vocation, a paying job, and I think if you know that and still choose this solitary path then you are half way to realizing this is not a competition, it's about finding your voice and a corner to commune from.

Where are you trying to end up? (5 year plan?)
Ive learnt not to make plans, just to have hopes and dreams and to work diligently towards them. I want to see more of the world, engage with as many stories as possible, collage my entire life experience and bring my imagination to bear each time I write something.

What are your favorite things in life so far?
Traveling, books...and New Orleans cuisine

If we gave you P1M what would you do with it?
I have a list the size of Botswana filled with arts programming concepts that I wish where annual fixtures on our calendars so I would start with implementing one or two of those. I have a penchant for pretty things so of course there'd be one or two personal acquisitions.

Any advice for people trying to do what you do?
There are no shortcuts.

Where can people buy/get a hold of your work?
You can get the 'dreaming is a gift for me' cd at Mafia Soul and online, you can search for TJ Dema on you tube, and look up my band 'sonic slam chorus' on soundcloud.

How can people get in touch with you?
My twitter handle is @TjDema, Facebook name TJ Dema, my blog is www.tjdema.blogspot.com, for media enquiries and bookings sautiartsadmin@gmail.com

Any thanks or shout outs?
I try to tell them face to face as often as I see them.

Tell us about you and how you would you describe your "art"?
I (poet, voice over artist, editor) am an Honorary Fellow in Writing of the University of Iowa. I was Botswana's representative to the London 2012 Cultural Olympiad's Poetry Parnassus and have been a recipient of a Vermont Studio Centre Writers Residency fellowship.
As a spokenword poet I have read in countries including India, Denmark, South Africa and France, running creative writing workshops in cities including London, Harare, Durban and Washington DC. I participated in Lancaster University's Crossing Borders literature program and mentored the national champions for the British Council's Power in the Voice initiative. In 2010 I was guest writer for the University of Warwick's International Gateway for Gifted Youth.
I have been guest editor for Prairie Schooner's Fusion series and during my tenure as Chairperson of the Writers Association of Botswana co-edited Mahube (short stories and poetry from Botswana). My poetry has appeared in The Ofi Press, Hummingbird Review, The World Record, No Serenity here
I have voiced a number of documentaries,my work has been featured on a variety of musical recordings, and in 2011 I produced a CD anthology of 12 Batswana poets. Alongside artists from Norway, Zimbabwe and the UK I am a spoken word lyricist for the experimental band Sonic Slam Chorus.

Where are you based?
I am Based in Botswana but lead a slightly peripatetic lifestyle these days. Poetry has been my passport to the world and I've had the good fortune of traveling to facilitate workshops and give readings in places like France, Denmark, India, USA, UK etc.

Do you come from an artistic background?
I don't come from a specifically artistic background but my father dabbled in scriptwriting (radio plays) and he was a prize winning ballroom dancer and teacher. My mum studied tailoring and enjoys making clothes, though not on a commercial scale.

What inspires you? What are your influences (Who or What)?
There is a beautiful series of poems by James Richardson, vectors 2.3 where he says 'its not success but self-congratulation that the Furies scent' so lets just say that when I'm old and grey I will look back and risk the Furies wrath (hopefully I will have earned that face off then) but for now each day is a new opportunity to learn enough to do a little better.

What are your tools for creating?
Tools? well I suppose my tool box is filled with words, language, a love of literature and pens i still prefer the tactility of writing poems by hand before committing the text to the flattery of a computer screen. I also read more than I write, so books would have to be one of my greatest 'tools'.

What sets you apart from the others?
I don't concern myself with being different, just with being myself. I think I'd rather be the best version of myself than a copy of someone else. Being a writer is for most of us a way of life rather than a for profit vocation, a paying job, and I think if you know that and still choose this solitary path then you are half way to realizing this is not a competition, it's about finding your voice and a corner to commune from.

Where are you trying to end up? (5 year plan?)
Ive learnt not to make plans, just to have hopes and dreams and to work diligently towards them. I want to see more of the world, engage with as many stories as possible, collage my entire life experience and bring my imagination to bear each time I write something.

What are your favorite things in life so far?
Traveling, books...and New Orleans cuisine

If we gave you P1M what would you do with it?
I have a list the size of Botswana filled with arts programming concepts that I wish where annual fixtures on our calendars so I would start with implementing one or two of those. I have a penchant for pretty things so of course there'd be one or two personal acquisitions.

Any advice for people trying to do what you do?
There are no shortcuts.

Where can people buy/get a hold of your work?
You can get the 'dreaming is a gift for me' cd at Mafia Soul and online, you can search for TJ Dema on you tube, and look up my band 'sonic slam chorus' on soundcloud.

How can people get in touch with you?
My twitter handle is @TjDema, Facebook name TJ Dema, my blog is www.tjdema.blogspot.com, for media enquiries and bookings sautiartsadmin@gmail.com

Any thanks or shout outs?
I try to tell them face to face as often as I see them.




Leroy ft. TJ Dema - Black Woman Sound

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