The Centre for Creative Arts (CCA) within the College of Humanities will once again transform Durban into a platform to share and celebrate cultural reflections and discourses through hosting the 21st edition of the Poetry Africa International Festival.
The Festival, which commences on 16 October at the Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre (UKZN, Howard College campus) and culminates in a finale at BAT Centre on 20 October, showcases not only poetry but provides workshops and community outreach programmes at different venues around Durban.
Audiences will be enthralled by the variety of delivery approaches from four prelude-poets and 18 seasoned dynamos of the spoken word, hailing from Nigeria, Zimbabwe, USA, Spain, Ukraine, Reunion Island and of course South Africa.
This year’s line-up includes South African male poets such as Kelwyn Sole, a poet with six individual published collections of poetry under his belt. Qwaqwa native Hlox The Rebel, is a must-see as he will certainly entertain with his bold and brazen verses. Durbanites will be familiar with Durban-born poet, Minenhle Mthembu, the winner of the best male poet prize at the 2013 Original Material Awards.
Rounding up the KwaZulu-Natal natives is Ukhozi FM resident poet, who is known as “Imbongi” for his powerful use of the vernacular language. No lineup is complete without stand-up poet, storyteller, essayist, columnist, and spoken word theatre director Kgafela Oa Magogodi, who has graced stages across Southern Africa and abroad.
Influential female poets, Myesha Jenkins, Natalia Molebatsi and Siphokazi Jonas are also part of this year’s South African lineup. Jenkins is a writer and poet who currently has two poetry collections to her name. Molebatsi, is a writer, performance poet, workshop facilitator and programme director who has presented and performed in South Africa, Zimbabwe, Holland, Italy, Nigeria, Senegal, Azerbaijan and England.
Lastly, Jonas is a “triple-threat” who has written, produced, and performed in three one-woman poetry productions: Poetry Under the Stars, Wrestling with Dawn, and Conspiracy Theory.
In an effort to bring diversity of cultures, the Festival will feature artists from Ukraine namely the founder and curator of the International Ukrainian-African Literature Project, Hannah Yanovska, and Oksana Rozumna, a professional linguist and author of two books of poetry.
Poetry Africa has also roped in Spanish veteran poet and cultural activist, Eduard Escoffet who has practiced various aspects of poetry including oral and visual poetry, poetry-action, and live recitals. Reunion Island based actress, storyteller, and author Judith “Kaloune” Profil, will be gracing the stage with her faithful instrument “the mbira”.
As a special treat, New York born poet, Miles Hodges, who featured in the series Russell Simmons Presents Brave New Voices, will add some Hollywood humour to Poetry Africa. Also from America, is Bronx-born writer, activist and educator, Crystal Valentine, who is the 9th ranked woman poet in the world by way of the 2016 Woman of the World Poetry Slam. And finally, is Durban-born Nazlee Arbee, who is well known for often playing with the imaginary binary between “rap” and “poetry”.
Tickets for the evening sessions taking place at 7pm at the Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre are R60 (students and pensioners pay R40).
Tickets for the finale happening at the BAT Centre are R100 and can be purchased at Computicket or one hour before the performance begins at the box-office. For more information go to www.cca.ukzn.ac.za, call (0)31 260 2506/1816 or email Maju Radebe at firstname.lastname@example.org. Like the Poetry Africa Facebook Page or follow @PoetryAfrica on Twitter for instant updates about the Festival.
Presented by the Centre for Creative Arts (University of KwaZulu-Natal), the 21st Poetry Africa is made possible by the continued support of the eThekwini Municipality, KZN Department of Arts and Culture and Alliance Française de Durban, Institut Ramon lull, Ukrainian Association of South Africa. The Centre for Creative Arts is housed in the School of Arts, College of Humanities at the University of KwaZulu-Natal.
Words: Melissa Mungroo