Winners of Poetry Africa’s School Poetry Writing

Some of the best KwaZulu-Natal school poets recited their work alongside wordsmiths from around the world at the 20th Poetry Africa Festival at the Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre.

The six poets were chosen from more than 100 entries received for the Festival’s annual schools poetry competition. The awards and prizes were sponsored by Adams Campus Books.

Top honours in the English category of the competition went to Callula Clay Smith of Durban Girls’ College for her poem titled:  I am a Woman.

Durban Academy’s Kwazokuhle Phakathi was second with Khoi San while Keleiah Pillay of St. Mary’s DSG in Kloof won third prize for her poem: Shattered Silence.

The isiZulu category was dominated by learners from the Dwengu High School in Mid-Illovo – Nokubongwa Nzama (1st), Thando Madonsela (2nd) and Minenhle Mdladla (3rd).

Launched in 2000 as part of Poetry Africa, the competition is aimed at motivating aspirant poets in schools.

Learners are encouraged to share their experiences through poetry, on a topic of their choice.

Judges looked at language, form, imagery, impact and originality.

Co-ordinator of the competition Mr Sakhile Gumede of the Centre for Creative Arts, said the standard of poems received this year reflected the dedication of entrants. ‘Each year the bar is raised, our young people are really talented. It is inspiring to see youth taking poetry seriously,’ he said.

Praising teachers and schools, Gumede said they played a major role in developing young writers and urged them to continue encouraging youngsters to write and perform.

‘The future of poetry is bright if young people – likes our winners – are carrying the poetry torch into tomorrow.’

Gumede said Poetry Africa would continue to provide a platform for young poets to share their work on an international stage. 

Melissa Mungroo