CityLife Arts

Poetry Africa Festival promises many highlights after an inspiring launch event

By CityLife Arts Writer

For the 24th consecutive year, the Poetry Africa festival, presented by the Centre for Creative Arts at the University of KwazuluNatal from 12 to 17 October 2020, sets the stage for poetry from South Africa and around the world. It promises to be an enriching experience with the sound of poets performing live, their passionate, inspirational perspective on life and current events and the power and beauty of the spoken word. The entire festival programme is presented on their social media platforms, namely Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

Yesterday, Monday ,October 12, the festival was officially opened with a keynote address by Lebo Mashile after which the audience was treated to an audio-visual experience of the recently released audiobook Collective Amnesia by Putuma Koleka.

“It is even more important to hold and nurture poets in 2020, because only poets can make sense of 2020” said Mashile.

“Most arts centres are still closed as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic and many artists continue to be without an income. The Poetry Africa festival in its online format has enabled the Centre for Creative Arts to create some work opportunities to support artists” said Siphindile Hlongwa, curator of the festival.

Programme highlights

“This year’s Poetry Africa festival features a series of collaborations with various partners. Most notable amongst these collaborations is a partnership with the French Institute of South Africa (IFAS) supported by Total SA”, said Ismail Mahomed, Director of the Centre for Creative Arts.

As part of this partnership, a poetry collection will be published in early 2021 with publishing house impepho press. The poets who will feature in the book were selected following a call for submissions looking for talented young South African poets. IFAS will be announcing the selected poems on the opening day of Poetry Africa, Monday 12 October at 3 pm. Some of the selected poets will also be reading their poems, to give the audience an overview of their beautiful and inspiring work.

Natalia Molebatsi

IFAS is organising more exciting events throughout Poetry Africa festival, including three professional development workshops with famous poets revolving around the theme “Living as a poet”, these webinars are streamed live on 13, 14 and 15 October from 11 am to 11.30 am.

Nane Ntube and Menzi Sibiya

The French Institute of South Africa is also presenting special guest, Cameroonian poet Nnane Ntube. Ntube believes in the power of poetry to change mindsets and in quality education.  She volunteers her services to mentor young girls, graduates and dropouts. Her dream is to have parents of her community believe in the creativity of their children and the power of literature.  She is the coordinator of CLIJEC (Cercle Littéraire des Jeunes du Cameroun) and literary coordinator of Writers Space Africa, Cameroon chapter (WSA-C). Nnane equally serves as a reviewer of Writers Space Africa monthly magazine. In 2019, Nnane was a panellist at the African Writers Conference in Nairobi, Kenya.

Lastly, IFAS presents Digging: The Fluidity of Language, which is a digital collaborative experience of choreo-poems advocating for social change. Award-winning choreographer and dancer Musa Hlatswayo’s work has courageously explored the controversial and complex issues relating to identity, masculinity and patriarchy. He is passionate about developing critical voices for the cultural sector. In this programme, he gathers a group of dancers to team with giving physical expression to the poems of Natalia MolebatsiSibongile Fisher and Menzi Sibiya.  

The 24th Poetry Africa Festival is streaming live on www.facebook.com/poetryafricawww.twitter.com/poetryafrica and www.youtube.com/centrecreativearts. Please visit poetryafrica.ukzn.ac.za for the full programme.

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