- Category: PA 2006
Sally-Ann Murray was born in Durban in 1961. From an early age, she learnt from her working mother that making things (poems, pictures, plays) would enable her to not only withstand but to flourish under the perceived stigmas of Umbilo and the Corporation flats.
After a matric year as Head Girl at Durban Girls' High, she took up a scholarship in San Francisco and, returning afterwards to Durban, found herself with young children, a PhD, and an associate professorship in English, at the then University of Natal.
Sally-Anne was the winner of the SANLAM Award for poetry in 1991, and the Arthur Nortje/Vita Award in 1989. She has one published collection, Shifting (Carrefour, 1992), and a new manuscript, Open Season, in press. She was for many years the chair of the Poetry Africa Schools' poetry programme, and is a longstanding adjudicator of the Alan Paton/Douglas Livingstone Creative Writing Competition. Her poems have appeared in numerous journals, and have been widely anthologized, most recently in The New Century of South African Poetry(2003, Ad Donker) and Imagination in a Troubled Space (2004, Poetry Salzburg).
She has also published academic articles on subjects that include Olive Schreiner, the shopping mall, the Lost City, South African metropolitan identity, 'Working for Water', and indigenous gardening. Both her poetry and her intellectual research tackle the pleasures and problems of living, reading, writing, being, in the uneven spaces that constitute contemporary South Africanness.
Particularly important claims upon her imagination include Durban, natural science, local history, language, femaleness, and the small dramas of domestic life. Her poetry also suggests that she is conscious of writing 'as a woman' in a local poetic tradition whose most notable craftsman is Douglas Livingstone.
Sally-Ann writes: “I like to think of poetry as a relational space, one in which I invite readers or audiences to connect, firstly, with my words, and then to find the links between what I'm doing and their own lives.”
“I like to think that the poet can play a role in enabling people to live more fully - whether by persuading them, through forms of bodily, rhythmical storytelling, towards thoughtfulness about how they live, or even by letting loose with the pleasure of laughter, the wry smile, the ironic jab, so that you leave the poem feeling different from when you entered it. This awareness, too, is a form of change.”