'Long Night of The Poets' unlocks the magic of poetry meets classical music

Viwe Mkizwana

Renowned musician Viwe Mkizwana. PIcture: Instagram

Published Jul 9, 2021


Are you feeling bored and lonely due to lockdown curfews and stay-at-home regulations?

Worry no more.

International poetry and musical extravaganza “Long Night of the Poets” will be streaming live on Friday, July 09 at 8pm.

The virtual event features 27 artists from South Africa, Zimbabwe, Nigeria, Algeria, Palestine, India and the US.

The programme is part of the extended Africa Month colloquia with a focus on the youth, featuring renowned and emerging voices, the likes of Makhafula Vilakazi from Soweto, Diana Ferrus, Michael Weeder from Cape Town, Vangile Gantsho, Sibulelo Manamatela, Siya Shezi from KwaZulu-Natal.

Other poets include Tade Ipadeola from Nigeria, Mutabaruka from Jamaica, Meena Kandasamy from India to Tony Award winning poet and actor Beau Sia from the USA.

Long Night of the Poets will also feature collaborations with musicians, including Kamva – the string quartet, Pops Mohammed on the kora with friends, Siya Mthembu from The Brother Moves On, soulful singer Hope Masike from Zimbabwe on the mbira, Kanyi Mavi and Eavesdrop – young women making their mark on the Cape Flats local hip hop scene.

Afrikaans poet Piet Odendaal will also feature among the many other poets and musicians.

“This is show has really gone beyond anything that we expected as curators and producers.

“The range of poets is phenomenal, with powerful messages and impact from spoken word to rap, to dub poetry,” comments show curator and renowned musician Viwe Mkizwana.

He adds: “Music and poetry have always had a symbiotic relationship, the melody in the words and the words in the melody both spoken and unspoken…

“The beauty of our artists and their poetry is that they sound good on paper and they sound good on stage with the music.”

The muso says he hopes that the show will bring messages of hope across the globe, particularly during the time of the Covid-19 pandemic.

“We imagine that they (fans) will see the talent, the tenacity of writers within South Africa and beyond as we participate in the continuing conversation and movement for a better world including reflecting on the ravaging of the pandemic on our planet.”

Echoing Mkizwana’s sentiments, celebrated violinist and member of Kamva String Quartet Sipho Sibiya says: “Look, I believe we have all had enough of this ’Covivi’ pandemic and we all wish that we could wake up tomorrow as if it never even existed…

“But we are here and we can only hope for the best.”

Touching on the hardships the creative industry has had to endure during the pandemic, Sibiya adds: “We have suffered so many hardships as people of the arts and we continue to face these struggles since all physical platforms to make a living were not even thought of when the government introduced these strict regulations, but I guess we had to comply however our circumstances were.

“We have lost friends through stress, depression and suicide all because of this Covid.

“It’s quite the killer this thing.

“We are glad that we carry one of the most powerful gift of healing, and that is music, we are grateful that we are still alive and that we can still be able to communicate with people on an emotional level through the arts.”

About the show, Sibiya admits: “This is my first time playing with poets and I must say, it's quite overwhelming.

“These souls are really gifted… oh! Ihlambile iEnglish on this side.

“I think this is the first of its kind where classical instruments meet with poets.

“The show caters for people who want to hear music and at the same time enjoy poetry, it’s like your ’cookies and tea’ combo.

He continues: “It caters for all and extremely non-racial nor does it discriminate against.

“So I also think if you are new to this like I am, it really opens your eyes to how diverse the arts can be, but also when putting different worlds of the art are put together like this, only fireworks come out.

“So I’d personally urge our fans to go check this one out.”

The show is free for streaming on Afro Arts and Joburg Live.

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