The Gordon Institute for Performing and Creative Arts (GIPCA) Great Texts/Big Questions series honours the memory and work of Stephen Watson. The tribute, on 20 October at 17:30 at Hidding Hall, will take on the form of a reading of some of his work by his friends and collaborators, including Pippa Skotnes, Bill Nasson, Lesley Marx, Hedley Twidle, William Dicey, Carrol Clarkson, Imraan Coovadia, Penny Busetto and Peter Anderson.

Watson, who passed away in April this year at the age of 56, was a South African academic, poet, essayist, and director of the University of Cape Town’s creative writing programme. “Stephen leaves behind a body of work and affections which mark our literature and the way we imagine our landscape and our history,” said UCT colleague Imraan Coovadia. “Thursday evening will be a chance to hear why his fellow writers and colleagues find Stephen’s voice an enduring one.”

Watson graduated with a BA in English in 1975, Honours in 1977, a Master’s in 1980 and a PhD in 1993, all degrees awarded by UCT. His major research interests included 20th Century British and American poetry, the American novel, and the work of George Herbert, William Wordsworth and George Orwell. He began tutoring in the English Department in 1980 and was appointed on a permanent basis in 1986. In 1983 he published his first book, Poems 1977-82 (Bateleur Press), followed by many other collections of poems and essays. His last book, The Music in the Ice, was published by Penguin Books in October 2010. It included essays on Albert Camus, with whom Watson had more than an ordinary connection, and on the singer Leonard Cohen. These are generally believed to be among Watson’s most daring and remarkable pieces of writing.

The tribute event will take place on 20 October in Hiddingh Hall at 17:30 and is free. No booking is necessary, but seating is limited. Refreshments will be served from 17:00. For more information phone the GIPCA office on 021 480 7156 or e-mail

Stephen Watson: In Memory audio recording available for download.

Stephen Watson: In Memory video recording:

Start: 20 Oct ’11 5:30 pm

End: 20 Oct ’11 6:30 pm

Cost: Free


Organizer: GIPCA


Venue: Hiddingh Hall 

Phone: +27 21 480 7156 

Address: UCT Hiddingh Campus, 31-37 Orange Street, Cape Town, 8001, Cape Town, Western Cape, 8001, South Africa