Dancing Pencils inspires minds to soar

Dancing Pencils mentors Mariam Akabor, Veena Gangaram, Vera Alexander, Ayanda Hlabisa (PRO), Felicity Keats and Yasmin Yamal. PHOTO: Thobele Nzama

THE love of writing has opened many doors for the founder of Dancing Pencils, Felicity Keats, which eventually led her to teach writing.

After a stint career as a freelance writer of short stories, she decided to change course and help to uplift literacy levels in the country.

“I have been writing for 55 years. In 1994, publishing changed and publishers didn’t want my writing anymore but I loved writing so much I decided I would teach it. I’d been to so many (writing) courses in my life, I knew what I didn’t like and what was boring and so I left out all the boring bits and I knew that people were afraid of that plain piece of white paper. It scared the life out of them. So I thought, if they write on the course and they read it out before they went home, they would not be frightened of the paper during the next week and they would write at home,” Felicity Keats said.


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Dancing Pencils has inspired book clubs all over the country in schools, libraries and even at the Westville Maximum security Men’s prison.

UmSinsi Press, founded by Keats in 1995, is the vehicle for printing the works produced by learners who have had the right brain instruction. They consider themselves purist publishers which seeks to preserve the voice of the writer and tell their stories the way they intend to.

“We are more about giving people a voice, and not so much interested in the sales. It’s developing a lot of writing, a love of communication and giving children a platform and actually changing their lives. Because the right brain does change lives.”

Her philosophy is that people want to be heard and they relate to stories written by people of the same wave length. It makes them want to read. It builds self-esteem and confidence. For her ongoing contribution nationally and for academics and services rendered, Keats was honoured at the 2011 Living Legends Awards by the eThekwini Municipality.


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Mentors Veena Gangaram, Mariam Akabor and Yasmin Yamal shared the successes of their respective Dancing Pencils book clubs.

Print runs of books are sponsored by clubs, corporate sponsors and Umsinsi Press itself.

Dancing Pencils book clubs are offered at 1 Hollings Road, Malvern every Saturday from 9am to 11am. Classes mentored by Yasmin Yamal will are offered at The Bat Centre every Saturday, at 9.30am to 10.30am for children and again at 11am to 12.30pm for adults.

l For more details visit www.dancingpencils.co.za, call 031 464 1556 or e-mail [email protected]

Thobele Nzama

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