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THE seventh Poetry Africa International Poetry Festival taking place in Durban soon is a highly anticipated event, but more so this year as, besides a stellar line-up of local and international artists, the fest is set to feature a ground-breaking poetry project.
The festival programme features live performances by a host of respected Indian and South Africa ethno musicians and poets who collaborated on the album Insurrections.
The project, a blend of Indian music with African instruments accompanying radical poetry from both continents, featured a respected ensemble of musicians Sumangala Damodaran (India), Jürgen Bräuninger (South Africa), Neo Muyanga (South Africa), Pritam Ghoshal (India), Brydon Bolton (South Africa), Tina Schouw (South Africa), Sazi Dlamini (South Africa) and Paki Peloeole (South Africa).
The poetry contingent for Insurrections comprises South Africans Ari Sitas and Malika Ndlovu and Indians Sabita TP and Vivek Narayanan.
The ensemble is set to perform at Poetry Africa on October 17.
Tonight caught up with the Durban-based composer Bräuninger to find out more about this project.
“The project started in 2010 and has been about three years in the making. It started with Ari Sitas and Sumangala Damodaran. There were some academic exchanges, but also musically because Ari is a poet and Sumangala an outstanding singer.
“Ari and I have collaborated in the past and I’ve collaborated with Sumangala so it just took off from there with more poets and musicians coming on board,” he explained.
“It was always the plan from the outset to have this Indian Ocean meeting and in musical terms, to see where Indian and African music meet, which was quite interesting.
“There are very few projects that I know of on this level where music from two countries come together to see how they work together. Because of the distance factor and getting people in the same room at the same time, it took a while.
“There was a lot of give and take, adjusting to perception change, a lot of improvisation, and what finally came out was amazing,” continued Bräuninger.
The Insurrections ensemble had their first show in Cape Town at the Fugard Theatre last year, but Bräuninger said not all the poets were there. This was also where their live album was recorded, which is now for sale through SA History Online and will also be available during Poetry Africa.
“Cape Town was the presentation of the fruits of out labour. All the artists will be at the Durban/Poetry Africa launch, so this is the first time that we will all be on stage together,” he said.
The plan was for the whole band to play in Delhi in January, Bräuninger said.
According to the Poetry Africa programme, some highlights not to be missed this year include:
• The festival featuring five |poets who also work as popular recording musicians: Kabomo Vilakazi, Busiswa Gqulu, Natalia Molebatsi, Ashleigh La Foy and Pura Lavisa.
• 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.
• From Soweto, Khulile Nxumalo will present works from his first poetry collection, ten flapping elbows, mama, and his latest collection, fhedzi.
• Nigerian poet Kole Odutola will be reading his latest work at the festival.
• Kobus Moolman’s latest collection, Left Over, is enjoying rave reviews in the press. His performance will allow the audience a chance to celebrate |his vast canon of works.
• The Joburg-based perfor-|mance and slam poet, Mandi Poefficient Vundla, forms part |of the Word n Sound collective and is featured in the online and print publications of Poetry Potion. Crowned Queen of the Word and Sound Mic last year, she has performed at Arts Alive and Jozi Book Fair.
• Four poets from the Irish poetry collective O’Bheal |will present their work. This contingent consists of Paul Casey, Afric McGinchey, Billy Ramsel and AmericanRaven.
• Completing the international line-up will be Ian Kamau (Canada), Barnabe Laye (Benin) and Raphael d’Abdon (Italy/ South Africa).
• Poetry Africa takes place from October 14 to19. Visit www.cca.ukzn.ac.za or call 031 260 2506.