blank
South African poet Natalia Molebatsi will
be seen on stage at the 17th International
Poetry Africa festival.

The 17th International Poetry Africa presented in partnership with the City of Durban and the KZN Department of Arts and Culture is proud to announce the festival line-up, which promises to be an exhilarating showcase of diverse voices and sounds. Organised by the Centre for Creative Arts (UKZN) to take place from 14-19 October, this festival is a critical platform for self-expression that offers a space for cultural exchange in the city of Durban.

The festival’s line-up features a ground-breaking poetry project – a 12 track recorded album entitled Insurrections – featuring poets and ethnomusicologists from India and South Africa. The project sees the rich sounds of the Indian music tradition blend with African instruments accompanying radical poetry from both continents. 

Keeping with the musical theme of this year’s edition, the festival will feature five poets who also work as recording musicians, Kabomo Vilakazi; Kalawa Jazmee artists Busiswa Gqulu; Natalia Molebatsi; Pura Lavisa and Durban-born poet, performer and MC, Ashleigh La Foy.

Returning to the Poetry Africa stage, well-respected Soweto-born dub-poet and writer, Lesego Rampolokeng, will deliver an infectious brand of poetry influenced by Black Consciousness and rooted in the lived experience of people on the margins. Also from Soweto, Khulile Nxumalo will present works from his first title ten flapping elbows, mama and his latest collection fhedzi, published by Die Hard Press.

Nigerian-born poet Kole Odutola will also be reading his latest work at the festival. Odutola teaches at the Department of Languages, Literatures and Cultures at the University of Florida and has published extensively both in academia and literature. Another participant with a background in teaching languages is Kobus Moolman, based at UKZN. Moolman’s latest collection Left Over is currently enjoying rave reviews in the press and his performance will allow an eager Durban audience a chance to celebrate his vast canon of works.

Johannesburg-based performer and slam poet Mandi Poefficient Vundla forms part of the Word n Sound collective and is featured on the online and print publications of Poetry Potion. Crowned ‘Queen of the Word and Sound Mic’ in 2012, she has graced numerous poetry stages including Arts Alive and Jozi Book Fair.

Another young female voice featured in the line-up is Sanelisiwe Ntuli, a wordsmith from Hammersdale who writes and performs in isiZulu. Also writing in isiZulu is Professor Langalibalele F. Mathenjwa, a published writer of isiZulu poetry, novels, short stories and folklore.

Four poets from the Irish poetry collective O’Bheal will present their work at the festival. This contingent consists of Paul Casey, Afric McGinchey, Billy Ramsel and American-born Raven. Completing the international line-up will be Ian Kamau (Canada), Barnabe Laye (Benin) and Raphael d’Abdon (Italy/ South Africa).

Kamau is a writer, visual artist, hip hop and spoken word artist from Toronto, whose discography lists five collections, including the popular album One Day Soon (2011). He will be presenting additional workshops in advance of the festival. A poet and novelist, Laye has published a dozen books and is the recipient of the Nelligan Prize his lifetimes work. His most recent work is entitled Poems in Absent, a long wait (2010). D’Abdon is an Italian scholar, writer, editor and translator and a post-doctoral fellow in the English Studies Department at UNISA. As an editor, D’Abdon recently published Marikana – A Moment in Time, as well as an anthology of poetry about the massacre and his own collection, Sunnyside Nightwalk.

The festival’s community outreach programme will see poets visit over twenty community centres, campuses and tertiary education departments across Durban and beyond. In addition, participating poets will visit twenty schools to discuss reading, writing and the performance aspects of poetry.

For more details about this year’s Poetry Africa, visit www.cca.ukzn.ac.za or call (031) 260 2506.