Gisela Hoyle


© Kev Ryan


Gisela Hoyle writes novels and poems. Her debut novel was called The White Kudu (2009) and When the Turaco Calls was published in 2012. A number of her poems have appeared in anthologies and poetry magazines.

Gisela has been based in Leicester since 2008. She belongs to The Poetry Stanzas of Leicestershire, Soundswrite and the Leicester Writers' Club. She does her best to combine writing with her work as a teacher in Corby, where she encourages her students to develop as much individuality as they are allowed by what she terms as a target-driven world. Gisela's research activities involve investigating the power of place within literature. She is particularly interested in literature's ability to transport readers to new places or to empower them to see familiar places differently, often with renewed awe. 


Creative Work

The White Kudu

Chapter 1: Abelshoop

‘Pniel, you say it’s called?’
‘Yes, Pniel.’
‘An odd name.’
‘It’s biblical – named by missionaries.’
‘And how do I find this place, this Pniel, then?’
‘You head north-west out of Kimberley.’
‘North-west? Could you be a little more specific? Which road do I take?’
A pitying look: ‘There is only one road.’
So Joshua Hunter found himself heading north-west out of Kimberley in late August, with little idea of where he was going or what to expect when he got there.
            Somewhere beyond Upington the Kalahari truly begins, but on this route the veld begins a shifting, wavering transformation from Karoo to Kalahari, from Vaalbos to red sands beneath the graceful arches of camel thorn trees. And for a while the land is neither, and both. The grey hard bushes of the Karoo give way to the seeming-soft, sparse, yellow grass; the earth becomes increasingly red and uncertain as soil turns to sand, loose and light and glittering; and, with the sudden alertness of a meerkat, you think you have reached Namaqualand, only to find yourself in the grey sloot of an ancient riverbed or the green belt of the river, which, since its beginning in the Drakensberg, has been always restless and unpredictable.

            Coming upon this place called Pniel, where Jacob wrestled with an angel, is an experience that does not lose its wonder with repetition: the world opens up and the desert engulfs you, transforming what you thought you knew into a wide and open emptiness, which watched attentively for long enough, will reveal a  life beyond imagining in that heat-shimmering world. And in such vast openness, it seems that everything will go on forever.



The White Kudu is set on a farm which is loosely based on the place where I grew up, but written from the point of view of a stranger. Even as a child I used to make myself dizzy wondering what life would be like if I were not me. And these thoughts keep cropping up in my writing and work: how would the world seem if I were a stranger?

Because we are all strangers most of the time, in most of the world. Every place has a story – even the wilderness. And when you see any place, whether new or familiar, with a stranger’s eye it can inspire awe. This awe used to make people leave small offerings to the ‘deus loci’ the ‘spirit of the place’. Writing about places feels that way for me – an offering to the spirit of the place. Less pompously it is basically graffiti: Gis was here.

But I do think that this urge to leave a mark in specific places is an important part of how people work out who they are. Roger Bacon already knew that ‘place is the beginning of our existence, just as a father.’ And so people tell stories – about places; in places; and sometimes even for places.

Having grown up on a Mission station in South Africa, I have always been interested in the opposed feelings of exile and home. Much of my work focuses on people’s attachment to place and the layered meaning of multicultural, immigrant living-spaces. And one of the reasons I feel so at home in Leicester is that the city has an extraordinary openness to strangers – allowing them to become part of its story.




The White Kudu,  Picnic Publishers, Hove, 2009
When the Turaco Calls,  Fledgling Press Ltd, Edinburgh, 2012


Poems in Soundswrite Anthology , Leicester, 2011

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