Poetry Africa Festival 2023 coming up in October

Published Sep 3, 2023


THE 27th edition of the Poetry Africa Festival will take place in October in three cities: Durban, Johannesburg and Bloemfontein.

The festival will kick off in Johannesburg on Thursday, October 5, then take pride of place in Durban from October 9 to 14 and conclude in Bloemfontein on Tuesday, October 17.

Poetry Africa is presented by the Centre for Creative Arts at the University of KwaZulu-Natal.

The festival theme “Vote 4 Poetry: More Than Words” celebrates the crucial role that poets’ voices play to strengthen and advance the values of a constitutional democracy.

The programme line-up will showcase a diverse array of established, mid-career, and emerging spoken word poets taking part in performances, workshops, masterclasses, panel discussions and book launches.

The full programme will be announced on Saturday, September 16.

Poetry Africa’s curator, Siphindile Hlongwa.

“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,” said Poetry Africa’s curator, Siphindile Hlongwa.

“In Johannesburg, Poetry Africa will be presented in partnership with the Arts & Culture Centre at the University of Johannesburg.

“In Bloemfontein, the Performing Arts Centre of the Free State (Pacofs) will play host to Poetry Africa.

“The recently appointed artistic director of Pacofs, Napo Masheane, is an internationally celebrated poet who in her early years cut her teeth at the Poetry Africa Festival in Durban.

“Napo Masheane is an alumnus of the Poetry Africa Festival, and she understands how the festival can unearth new talent and simultaneously create new pathways for established poets.

“It is not surprising that she intends to make the City of Roses a place where poets can find a nurturing and welcoming space,” said Ismail Mahomed, the director of the Centre for Creative Arts.

Poetry Africa’s annual Slam Poetry Competition is one of the leading slam events on the African continent. Poetry Africa’s 2021 champion, Xabiso Vili, participated in the World Poetry Slam Championship in Brussels and won the championship.

Kwanele Nyembe, the 2022 Poetry Africa Slam champion, will compete for the title in Brazil later this year.

“Poetry Africa set a high bar at the World Slam Championship in 2022. We are confident that Kwanele Nyembe will follow in this same tradition,” said Hlongwa, who has championed the Poetry Africa brand both nationally and abroad.

Poetry Africa is supported by the University of KwaZulu-Natal, the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Sports, Arts and Culture, the National Arts Council of South Africa, the French Institute of South Africa and Total Energies.

“The Poetry Africa festival, along with the Time of the Writer festival, both presented by the Centre for Creative Arts, cement Durban’s title as a Unesco City of Literature," Mahomed said.