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Bri Griffith

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Bio Summary
Cohort Year: 
2017
Home Institution: 
Carlow University
Heinz Programming Area: 
Arts & Culture
Study Abroad Country: 
South Africa
International Experience

As a Vira Heinz scholarship recipient, Bri spent 5 weeks in Stellenbosch, South Africa where she studied at Stellenbosch University, the oldest in the country. In Stellenbosch, Bri’s classes focused on South African political history, art and media during and after apartheid, and the reflection of political identities and tensions in South African film and literature. As a Creative Writing student, Bri quickly became fascinated with the power of storytelling, and the idea of many histories existing at once; since returning to Pittsburgh, she continues to question, “Whose history is being shown, whose stories are being told, and who’s telling them?” Bri’s classes took her to the Stellenbosch University and SMAC art galleries, where she was introduced to Ingrid Winterbach’s showcase, “Relevant / Irrelevant.” Bri found herself connecting to Ingrid’s art, and her desire to undermine the “tasteful, beautiful, and harmonious.” Bri writes the body, both bruised and hungry; the many voices throughout her work aren’t afraid to speak their truths, even when they’re painful and ugly. Bri also attended a POETRY FOR PEACE reading while in Stellenbosch, hosted by InZync, a South African poetry project. Bri listened to young South African poets read their work about peace, and their experiences with racism and language. The reading left Bri feeling inspired to take risks, and to continue writing about the things that are hard to say, the darkest parts of the human experience. Bri also took a trip to Robben Island, where she was able to see places she learned about in class, like the cell where Nelson Mandela spent 17 years of his life as a political prisoner, pushing her deeper into the world of resistance, and poetry as a political act. Bri, while staying at the Huis Visser residence hall in Stellenbosch, and traveling between the Eastern and Western Capes of South Africa, allowed herself to feel vulnerable by sharing her poetry with Stellenbosch University students, singing karaoke, pushing herself physically, and eating interesting food, like Warthog, Kudu, and Alligator kebobs.

 

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