Henk Rossouw is from Cape Town, South Africa. His book-length poem Xamissa, published by Fordham University Press in 2018, won the Poets Out Loud Editor's Prize. An assistant professor, Henk teaches creative writing (poetry) and literature in the English Dept. at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. Here is an interview with him as a new faculty member.

The anthology Best American Experimental Writing 2018 (Wesleyan University Press), edited by Myung Mi Kim, features an excerpt. Kwame Dawes and Chris Abani included his chapbook The Water Archives in the boxset New-Generation African Poets: Tano (African Poetry Book Fund/Akashic Books). Further excerpts of Xamissa are available in Tupelo QuarterlyThe Common, Blackbird, and South Africa’s innovative poetry journal New Coin. He also has poems in The Paris Review and Boston Review.

Here’s a poetics essay on Xamissa written for rob mclennan’s blog My (Small) Press Writing Day.

Henk is an associate editor for Tupelo Quarterly: Recent editorial work focuses on Emily Hunt, Asiya Wadud, Hannah Brooks-Motl, Daniel Tiffany, and Rodrigo Toscano. For Boston Review, he wrote the review essays "Border Lyrics" and "On the Poetry of Institutional Violence". Read his review in Gulf Coast of Fred Moten's The Service Porch.

He was one of the winners of the 2009 Poetry Society of America / Bright Lights Big Verse contest, which included a reading on Times Square. It's on Youtube

Older poems are in The Massachusetts Review and Transom. Fiction can be found in Tin House, non-fiction in The Threepenny Review, and an interview with the late Nadine Gordimer in The Virginia Quarterly Review

Before joining the faculty at ULL, Henk was a visiting assistant professor in The Honors College at the University of Houston, where he won a teaching award for his lecture on postcolonial Irish poetry. He has an MFA from the University of Massachusetts Amherst. In 2017, he earned his PhD in Creative Writing and Literature from the University of Houston, where he served as a poetry editor for Gulf Coast literary journal.


Email Henk Rossouw: hrossouw at gmail dot com.

Book cover image: Courtesy of William Kentridge and the Marian Goodman Gallery

Purchase Xamissa from Fordham UP, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or your local independent bookstore.

Reviews of Xamissa:

“Shuttling deftly from first-person narratives to language pastiches, seamlessly integrating historical material, razor-sharp in its intellectual investments, Xamissa is a powerful new text in contemporary postcolonial poetry, which builds both within and against the texts of history—that archive we’ve inherited.”
— Christopher Kempf, Colorado Review, 30 Apr. 2019

“[T]he space between texts and episodes in Xamissa is especially powerful. It is in these bright apertures, the liminal spaces within the text, that the laws of grammar, syntax and narrative no longer hold. In these brief pauses, the rules of the text, and the rules governing its language and narrative, can be entirely reconfigured … Rossouw’s archival poetics reads as both homage and destruction, a lyric appreciation of the work silence can do (and undo).”
— Kristina Marie Darling, Kenyon Review, 7 Nov. 2018.

"To stunning effect, movement between past, present, and future propels the reader through this text. Rossouw encourages us to then create our own mental file cabinets to store away these dichotomies as the text unfolds, as we are reminded of where we have come from, but most importantly, as we are also forced to consider where we will go next."
— Keenan Colditz, Poetry International, 8 Dec. 2018.

Xamissa was a fascinating read… The poem is experimental, but also readable; carefully researched; intricately constructed. The book moves back and forth through history with great effectiveness and draws us in to experience Rossouw's Cape Town.”
— goodreads.com

Blurbs for Xamissa by Roberto Tejada, Gabeba Baderoon, and Rodrigo Toscano can be read here.

Events: Spring 2020