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Tjizembua Tjikuzu


First Language(s): Otjiherero
Second Language(s): English


Tjizembua Tjikuzu is an essayist and poet from Aminuis, Namibia. He graduated from the Rutgers-Camden MFA in Creative Writing program in 2021. He has poetry and essays published and forthcoming in Doek! Literary Magazine, Obsidian Literature and Arts in the African Diaspora, Rigorous Magazine, Empyrean Literary Magazine, Columbia: Journal of Literature and Art, and Consequence Forum.


What was your favorite book as a child?

I did not read very much as a child. It was only until I got to secondary school that I began reading a lot. But my mother (Eveline)  and her sisters (Selma and Koukuao) were storytellers. They told me many bedtime stories about the jackal and the hyena, Rutanga rwaTjandjambi and Katitikomambo, and many others I have probably forgotten. Most of my childhood imagination was spent living in the world of these oral bedtime stories.

What was the original reason or motivation why you started writing creatively?

Well, I wouldn't say I thought about it. I just did it. My body and mind said do it, and I did it. It was as simple as that. Even today, I approach writing that way. I remember the first poem I wrote. It was about the sun, I believe. It was winter. So maybe I am motivated by absence. That was the first instinct for me. Maybe I write because I want to relive moments I do not want to forget. I remember I felt a rush writing that first poem. I felt more present, more alive than I have ever felt previously. I am still chasing that feeling. The good news is the intensity of that feeling never wears off — if you are doing it right. How do you know you are doing it right? I know my heart flutters when I am doing it right.

What was the most adventurous or thrilling thing you ever did/experienced?

Skiing in the Taos Mountains was one of the most thrilling things I have ever done. I did not know how to ski, but I went to the mountains anyway. I remember we had to ski down the mountain. At one point, we skied down a narrow cliff with a snow-packed river below. I thought I was going to fall over the cliff and die. But I didn't. I felt a sense of accomplishment when I got to the foot of that mountain.

Do you listen to music while reading or writing?

Sometimes I do, sometimes I don't. I will listen to music while writing as long as the music is evoking an atmosphere I want to create in the work. Or, the music somehow blends into the background and clears the way for me to reach the place I want to reach in the work.


Flash Nonfiction
The Economic Theory of Depreciation
Issue Fall '23

Supported by:

Land Steiermark: Kultur, Europa, Außenbeziehungen
U.S. Embassy Vienna
Stadt Graz