Deborah Seddon is an academic and a poet who was born in Harare, Zimbabwe, but is now based in Grahamstown, South Africa, where she teaches South African, African-American, Afro-Caribbean, and English Renaissance literature in the Rhodes University English Department. Her academic research is focused on South African orature and the transnational aesthetics of spoken word poetry. She is a founding member of the Cycle of Knowledge, a poetry organization consisting of students, school learners, and poets from the local community. The Cycle of Knowledge was created in 2013, and is a community engagement partnership between the Rhodes University English Department and the Writers’ Movement: a group of poets located in Joza, Grahamstown. The weekly sessions of the Cycle of Knowledge alternate between meetings on campus and in Joza, and provide a range of educational activities around writing, reading, and performing poetry. These include discussions of the work of South African and international poets, creative writing exercises, poetry ciphers and open mike sessions, editing and group feedback sessions on individual works, performances on campus, in town, and at local schools, recording poetry in video formats, collating biographies of the poets involved, and documenting the group’s activities.
Since 2006, Deborah has been a member of Aerial Publishing, a self-financing community publishing project based in Grahamstown, which received its start-up funding from the Centre for the Book in Cape Town. The committee annually calls for manuscripts of poetry and prose, mainly from Grahamstown writers, and chooses two per year to publish. Aerial Publishing edits, designs, and prints all their publications themselves, using funds raised by the sales of their books.
Deborah has published academic papers on South African literature and orature, African-American literature, South African engagements with Shakespeare, and on pedagogy in post-apartheid South Africa. Some of her poems appear in Writing From Here and Aerial.