The Writers’ Residency of the Jakes Gerwel Foundation and PEN Afrikaans is expanding

The Jakes Gerwel Foundation and PEN Afrikaans are proud to announce that their sought-after writer’s residency, for which paid-up members of PEN Afrikaans could apply these last three years, is now also open for applications from members of PEN South Africa and PEN Nederland.

The Jakes Gerwel Foundation and PEN Afrikaans plan to invite two PEN centres to participate every year so as to transform this month-long writers’ residency in the Foundation’s Paulet House in Somerset East into an even more special experience.

The goal of this project is to give writers – upcoming or established – the chance to escape their daily responsibilities and work full-time on their manuscripts. There is no element of mentoring involved in this residency, so writers will write and progress at their own pace.

The historic Paulet House with its old-world charm, spacious rooms and luscious green garden offers the ideal opportunity to writers to work on their manuscripts in an inspiring environment.

‘We are very excited about the expansion of a writers’ residency that has thus far been wonderfully productive. The fruits of the residency include award-winning poetry, literature for children and youth that opens up worlds, a memoir and even an album of spoken poetry. We are looking forward to seeing what this round is going to deliver. Since this year’s applications are open for PEN Afrikaans members, as usual, but also for members of PEN Nederland and PEN South Africa, it is certain that a diverse group and stimulating conversations around the dinner table will be the order of the day,’ said Theo Kemp of the Jakes Gerwel Foundation.

The Jakes Gerwel Foundation will cover all the writers’ accommodation from 6 June to 3 July 2022, inclusive of costs for the Internet, cleaning services, meals, and, if needed, national return tickets to Port Elizabeth as well as transport from and to the airport.

The costs of any overseas trip to attend the residency is, however, excluded. These costs will be borne either by the applicant or another supporting institution.

All genres will be considered.

Interested applicants may send their applications to Theo Kemp, the executive director of the Jakes Gerwel Foundation, at by 18 March 2022. Writers may apply in the language in which they write and the application must comprise the following:

  • A letter of motivation explaining why the applicant wants to make use of the residency as well as a confirmation of membership of the relevant participating PEN centre: PEN Afrikaans, PEN Nederland or PEN South Africa.
  • A resume of the applicant’s writing career. Published writers must include a list of publications, while unpublished writers must include creative writing (30 pages of prose writing or 10 pages of poetry).
  • A project outline of what the writer will be working on during the residency.
  • A letter from a publisher interested in publishing the applicant’s work will count strongly in favour of the candidate.
  • Applicants must demonstrate that they intend to use the residency productively and that they understand and will contribute to the collegiate and respectful atmosphere of Paulet House.

Representatives of the Jakes Gerwel Foundation, PEN Afrikaans, PEN South Africa and PEN Nederland will review the applications. Interviews with shortlisted candidates will take place on 20 April. The successful applications will be announced on 25 April.

About the partners

The Jakes Gerwel Foundation aims at building out the legacy of the late Prof. Jakes Gerwel – who excelled as educator, liberator, patron of the arts and business person – with relevant projects. The Foundation focuses on the promotion and empowerment of writers and wants to contribute to the expansion and enrichment of the South African body of literature. The Foundation is proud of their partnership with PEN Afrikaans, especially because Prof. Gerwel was passionate about Afrikaans and the diversity of the people whose mother tongue it is.

More information about the Gerwel Foundation is available at

PEN Afrikaans, PEN Nederland and PEN South Africa are three of the more than 140 centres of PEN International, the world’s foremost writers’ association. It is an international human rights organisation that supports freedom of expression, promotes literature and protects writers.

Read more about:

PEN Afrikaans at

PEN Nederland at

PEN South Africa at