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100 poets set to feature in 27th Poetry Africa Festival

Amee Slam. Picture: Supplied

Amee Slam. Picture: Supplied

Published Oct 3, 2023


The Centre for Creative Arts at the UKZN, has set the stage for poetry from South Africa and around the world.

The 27th Poetry Africa festival will take place from October 5 - 17 in Durban, Johannesburg and Bloemfontein and will see 100 talented spoken-word poets from 20 countries captivating attendees.

Launching the festival programme recently at the Alliance Française in Johannesburg, Ismail Mahomed, the director of the Centre for Creative Arts, said this year’s poets will come from Ghana, Tanzania, Cote D’Ivoire, Congo/Brazzaville, Senegal, Namibia, Guinea Bissau, Zimbabwe, South Africa, Portugal, Spain, Surinam and the USA, among several others.

Some of this year’s festival highlights include, a multi-disciplinarian Ivorian artist named Amee Slam.

She was named Ambassador of the Africa Cup of Slam Poetry in 2020 and has won several awards.

Amee Slam. Picture: Supplied.

US poet Rudy Francisco will also be performing. His performance will be an amalgamation of social critique, introspection, honesty and humour as he uses personal narratives to discuss the politics of race, class, gender and religion while pinpointing and reinforcing human existence's interconnected nature.

Rudy Francisco. Picture: Supplied.

This year’s Featured Poet is UK-based South African percussionist, composer, poet, educationalist and animateur, Eugene Skeef.

Skeef, who is the artistic director of Quartet of Peace, is renowned for his work in conflict resolution.

Quartet of Peace is an initiative that utilises music and poetry to foster peaceful resolutions to conflicts and poverty, with a special focus on engaging young people.

Another legend in the industry, Wally Serote, will be the speaking at the second annual Keorapetse Kgosisitsile Memorial Lecture at the UJ Theatre. He will be joined by academic Muxe Nkondo.

Sam Moodley will be in conversation with Omar Badsha at the Mafika Gwala Memorial Lecture, presented in partnership with South African History Online.

Featured poets will also have the opportunity to win R20 000 in the festival’s “World Slam Poetry Competition”, clinching the title from previous winner, Kwanele Nyembe, who will compete for the world title in Brazil next month.

Returning to the stage are stalwarts, award-winning poet, author, presenter, actress, and producer, Lebo Mashile, and Phillippa Yaa de Villiers, Masai Sepuru, vangile gantsho, Sara Godsell, Raphael D’Abdon and Jonathan Lefenya.

Phillippa Yaa de Villiers. Picture: Supplied.

This year’s festival also includes partnerships with the Johannesburg Institute for Advanced Studies (JIAS), the Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC) and the Performing Arts Council of Free State (PACOFS).

Author and academic Siphiwo Mahala will present a programme featuring Keith Lewis, Obamafemi Thanni, Chiwoneso Tsikisayi and Noluthando Buthelezi.

Chioniso Tsikisayi. Picture: Supplied.

Academic Heidi van Rooyen will headline the launch of Voices Unbound, a publication featuring poems from the eighth International Symposium on Poetry Enquiry.

The event will feature Kirsten Deane, Larissa Hasim, Marie Pete, Raphael D'Abdon, Pralini Naidoo, DuduZile Ndovu and Angela Hough.

Another great feature is a partnership with PACOFS that will see Free State poets performing in both Durban and Bloemfontein.

The programme will feature Hope Mokhele, Thuthukane Ndlovu, Lesika Dipholo and Maleshoane Mphuphlane, headlined by PACOFs’ recently appointed artistic director, Napo Masheane.

Siphindile Hlongwa, the curator for Poetry Africa, said: “Napo Masheane cut her teeth at Poetry Africa many years ago before taking her place on stages across the globe.

“We are excited about her appointment at PACOFS, and we are optimistic that with her tenacity and passion for spoken word poetry, she will create a vital new node for the poetry movement in Bloemfontein.”

This year’s festival will also see renowned South African pianist Paul Hamner making his debut.

Piano & Poems will feature him at the keyboards alongside poet, playwright and academic, Anton Kreuger.

And celebrated poet and graffiti artist Iain “Ewok” Robertson will perform with saxophonist Dr Jeff Robinson. The Live the Spirit Residency will feature US poet and musician, Ernest Dawkins, with an 8-piece music ensemble.

Live festival events will take place in Johannesburg at the UJ Arts & Culture Centre on October 5 - 8, Howard College Theatre in Durban on October 10 - 14 and at PACOFS in Bloemfontein on October 16 -17.

An online programme will take place from October 10–13.

Tickets are available on Webtickets (Durban) and TicketPro (Johannesburg).

The full Poetry Africa programme can be viewed at