“I hope to leave some evidence / that I inhabited this world / that I sensed my situation / that I created something / out of my situation / out of my life / that I lived / as human” – Wopko Jensma, “Spanner in the what? Works”

Pieter Odendaal


Arts & Entertainment

Organisation / Company

North-West University


Pieter Odendaal, 35, is a writer, producer and senior lecturer in creative writing at North-West University. Pieter’s heart beats for poetry and the different expressions and messages it holds. His written texts explore various themes including the legacies of colonialism and apartheid, climate, society, identity politics and mental health.

In his career, he has bagged four qualifications, which include a PhD in creative writing, an MPhil and postgraduate diploma in sustainable development planning and management, and a BA in language and culture. He also published five books. Among all his literary interests, poetry stands out the most for Pieter, who says he is interested in collaborative writing practice and using spoken word poetry as a vehicle for social-ecological change.

He started the BUA! Poetry initiative to renew spoken word events at his university, on which he continues to expand. He previously led another poetry project called InZync Poetry at Stellenbosch University, which sought to promote multilingual spoken word platforms in the Cape Town area. As a queer person, Pieter says he learnt how to curate visibility through performance but helping the youth hone in on their creativity and writing is what truly makes him feel alive.


  • PhD in Creative Writing, Queensland University of Technology
  • MPhil in Sustainable Development Planning and Management, Stellenbosch University
  • Postgraduate Diploma in Sustainable Development Planning and Management, Stellenbosch University
  • BA in Language and Culture, Stellenbosch University


Adrian Diff van Wyk and I started InZync Poetry at Stellenbosch University back in 2011 to promote multilingual spoken word platforms in the greater Cape Town area, with Amazink Live in Kayamandi as our hub. The work we did, including organising regular poetry events, slams and workshops, had a formative influence on my sense of self and purpose. 

InZync enabled me to travel internationally for my poetry and laid the foundation for the rest of my creative career. At InZync I learnt about the power of poetry, how to navigate the complex arts funding landscape, and how much work there is to be done for us to understand each other’s hearts in South Africa. I also learnt that collaboration is central to creative work, and that you must be open to criticism and self-reflection if you want to create ethically with others. Poetry became my home and nursery, a place of acceptance and creativity where I learnt how to live in this country.


Antjie Krog, Keorapetse Kgositsile, Marlene van Niekerk, Malika Ndlovu, Toni Stuart and Breyten Breytenbach have all influenced my understanding of how to live and write poetically.