15 questions for Joan Hambidge


15 questions for Joan Hambidge

La Hambidge is razor sharp, witty as a prickly pear, friendly like the Lacoste crocodile. This well-known literary scholar, award-winning and prolific poet, distinguished academic and critic, controversial public figure, enthusiastic traveller and regular contributor to Vrye Weekblad's books section tells us a little more about herself as she works on her 29th collection of poems, Asindeton, plus a novel, Hart sonder hawe. LAUREEN ROSSOUW asks the questions.


1. What do you listen to when you're alone?

Marilyn Horne, Maria Callas, Anne Sofie von Otter. And Fritz Wunderlich. I love beautiful singing voices. Like that of Joey Niceforo.

2. How would you describe your style?

Am I not Lacoste's biggest marketer next to Djokovic? Casual-elegant. Dressed to serial kill.

3. What do you find sexy?

Beautiful hands.

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4. Who is your celebrity crush?

The young Charlotte Rampling and always Kate Winslet.

5. The greatest gift you've received?

The unconditional love of my parents and siblings. Even if we differ, we help each other in times of trouble.

6. You like to travel. Your favourite destination(s)? Why?

South America. Chile, Argentina, Colombia. In the footsteps of great writers: Neruda, Borges, Márquez. It feeds me creatively and keeps me humble.

7. What can't you travel without?

My laptop. I am always writing and sending travel reports for my blog back home, Woorde wat weeg. And my Mont Blanc pen with a notebook.

Top: Joan Hambidge at a function in 1979 in her capacity as chair of the Afrikaanse Studentevereniging at Stellenbosch University with DJ Opperman (middle) with the publication of ‘Komas uit ʼn bamboesstok’.

8. What kind of child were you?

Quiet, aloof and rebellious. And always outside. An explorer of nature and my mother had to get me out of bed early to teach me Latin and German.

9. What was your best toy as a child?

A collection of Matchbox cars. Now, as a big kid, I play in my Mini convertible.

10. If you could dine with three people, living and deceased, who would you choose and what would you eat?

Umberto Eco, Jacques Derrida and Roland Barthes. We would eat risotto and then I would suggest that we move on to veal or spaghetti, as each prefers.

11. What do you fear?

That I will no longer be able to challenge myself as a writer. That's what my latest novel-in-the-making, Hart sonder hawe, is about.

12. What do you never want to repeat?

The first year at Stellenbosch University, where we were treated like children. Without agency. Under the brooding eyes of conservative housemistresses. What a miserable time it was in Erika.


13. How do you survive? 

With my sense of humour and irony. And with writing poetry: my lifeline.

14. What does no one know about you?

Unfortunately, as a writer, one has no secrets. It is all recorded. In twisted mysteries for readers who can unravel them.

15. What are you looking forward to?

The end of load-shedding and the negative energy that hit this country like a tsunami. And the hysterical reactions in the press.

♦ VWB ♦

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