Local and international poets set to feature at the 27th Poetry Africa festival

Eugene Skeef. Picture: Jonathan Rees

Eugene Skeef. Picture: Jonathan Rees

Published Oct 4, 2023


One hundred spoken word and published poets from 20 countries are getting ready to enthral audiences at the 27th Poetry Africa festival.

This year the festival has expanded its reach and will also have editions in Johannesburg and Bloemfontein.

It will be held in Johannesburg at the UJ Arts & Culture Centre from October 5 to 8, in Durban at the Howard College Theatre from October 9 -14 and at PACOFS in Bloemfontein on October 16 and 17.

An online programme will also be available from October 10 to 13.

Themed “Vote4Poetry: More Than Words”, it will showcase a diverse poetry circle of established, mid-career, and emerging spoken word poets taking part in performances, workshops, master classes, panel discussions and book launches.

The Centre for Creative Arts at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, is also exploring the boundaries between genres with their array of cross-over events.

One of such events is “The Four Horsemen”, a theatrical production that tells the gripping tale of the end of the world as it stands, featuring poets Solly Ramatswi, Jonathan Lefenya, Thuthukani Myeza and Masai Sepuru.

This production will take place at Howard College Theatre on October 9 at 6pm.

There will also be musical performances such as the collaboration between poet Anton Krueger and jazz pianist Paul Hanmer titled "Piano and Poems, Everybody is a Bridge".

On the expansion, Poetry Africa curator Siphindile Hlongwa said: “For more than two decades Poetry Africa has retained its reputation as one of the most significant platforms for contemporary spoken word poetry.

“After our huge success in Durban and Johannesburg last year, the expansion to Bloemfontein was an inevitable progression.”

Poetry Africa curator Siphindile Hlongwa. Picture: Val Adamson.

Previous editions have featured poetry stars like Koleka Putuma, Tory Saint, Lebo Mashile and Siphokazi Jonas.

This year sees multi-disciplinarian Ivorian artist Amee Slam, US poet Rudy Francisco, artistic director of PACOFS, Napo Masheane, Chioniso Tsikisayi and Phillippa Yaa de Villiers among others, who will set the stage on fire with their powerful recitals.

Ivorian artist Amee Slam. Picture: Supplied

South African poet, percussionist, composer, educationalist and animateur, Eugene Skeef is the festival’s Featured Poet.

The internationally celebrated poet is well-known for his work as an artist and his active role in conflict resolution.

Hlongwa said: "We are particularly interested in his life as a young activist who worked alongside anti-apartheid leader Steve Biko to become one of the most dynamic cultural leaders on the global stage.”

One of Skeef’s milestones include performing with his Abantu Ensemble at Buckingham Palace.

“We believe that Eugene Skeef's presence at the festival will greatly motivate emerging poets, who are trying to discover and affirm how their voices can advance a culture of human rights, democracy and social justice,” said Hlongwa.

Skeef will perform his poetry on stage, alongside other acclaimed poets, such as Rudi Francisco (USA), Sarah Lubala (DRC / SA) and Amina Bamba (Ivory Coast).

He will also conduct workshops at schools, community arts centres and a master class at the UKZN for students in the African Music and Dance programme.

Another exciting event at the festival is its annual Slam Jam Competition. The event brings together the most talented and passionate poets from around the country, offering them the chance to showcase their work and compete to be crowned the South African Slam Jam Champion.

In the past two years, Xabiso Vili and Kwanele Nyembe have taken home the title, representing South Africa on a global stage.

After the initial round of judging, ten finalists were selected to take part in the semi-finals in Johannesburg. From there, the top five will be chosen to compete in the final in Durban, to determine who will be crowned as South Africa's best Slam Poet and will represent the country on a global stage.

An all access pass is R200 via Webtickets. For more information visit www.poetryafrica.ukzn.ac.za.

“The Tower And The Tree.”

Have fun at the theatre this school holidays with “The Tower & Tree.” The multi- award winning story stars Patrick Kenny, Shannon Kenny and Peter Court.

Audiences can immerse themselves in a wonderfully funny and thoroughly delightful modern fairy tale about love and self-sacrifice told through puppetry.

The puppets, created by Court, are voiced and animated by Patrick and Shannon with the additional vocal talents of Londiwe Ngwazi, Anna Kenny and director Court.

Where: The Station Urban Event Space, 65 Masabalala Yengwa (NMR) Avenue.

When: Until October 6 at 9:30am and 11:30am.

Cost: Tickets cost R100 for adults and R75 for children via Webtickets and Pick n Pay outlets.

Durban Chamber Choir. Picture: Ocean Planet Media and Matt Bartholomew Photography

“Viva La Musica!”

The ever creative Durban Chamber Choir will present two spring concerts over two weekends.

“Viva La Musica!” will celebrate rhythm and rhyme with a good representation of contemporary South African works interspersed with international choral pieces, all written within the last 100 years.

Conducted by Andrew-John Bethke, the choir is made up of voluntary members of all ages and from all walks of life, united in their love for choral singing.

Their repertoire is wide-ranging from early plainchant to the contemporary choral repertoire, renaissance to modern, sacred to secular, accompanied by organ, piano and small orchestral ensembles.

Where: Church of the Ascension, Hilton on Sunday, October 8, at 3pm and at St Thomas Church, Musgrave, on Sunday, October 22, at 3pm.

Cost: Tickets are available at the door for R100, concession tickets cost R70.