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The University of KwaZulu-Natal’s Centre for Creative Arts (CCA) is hosting the 26th Poetry Africa International Festival in October.

The theme for this year’s festival is Poetic (In)Justice: Voices That Breathe, Move and Transform. The festival is an ode to the depth of perspective that poetry affords us in seeing and articulating (in)justice. It is taking place in Johannesburg and Durban, and some of the sessions will take place virtually.

The Centre for Creative Arts and the University of Johannesburg’s Arts and Culture Department have, for the past decade, informally collaborated to bring down a small cohort of poetry students from Jo’burg to participate in the Poetry Africa Festival. This year they have made their relationship official and are launching the first Poetry Africa On Tour.

Poetry Africa On Tour is a three-day live programme from 6 to 8 October that breaks Poetry Africa out of its geographical shell and extends its footprint and imprint to Johannesburg and other local cities and provinces.

This staging aims to create a space for the poetry community outside of Durban to shift into the role of engaged makers of the festival and expanded the repertoire of what can be experienced through it. It also marries mobility with accessibility by delivering some of the live offerings of the festival to the doorstep of an audience in Johannesburg who may not have the capacity to attend the main event.

“We hope that this instalment of the festival will afford poets, who are doing the unsung labour of nurturing poetic practices and reach in their respective locales, the opportunity to plug into the thriving and enabling ecosystem that has formed around this unprecedented platform for poetry on the continent.” Says Quaz Roodt, art coordinator at UJ.

On 6 October, the festival presents “What’s a Woman’s Worth”, featuring Philippa Yaa De Villiers, Lebo Mashile, Roche Kester, vangile gantsho, Nomashenge and Belita Andre. It is a focus on women by women performance – a cross-generational probing into the vast spectrum of degradation to a celebration that determines the worth of a woman. The show will take place at the Keorapetse Kgositsile Theatre, Kingsway Campus.

7 October is the day poets will battle it out in the semi-final of the 20th iteration of the Slam Jam competition, an annual festival highlight. The finals will take place in Durban, and the winner will walk away with an accumulative price of R22,000 and an international trip to participate in the World Slam Competition 2023.

On 8 October, South African poets Thando Fuze, Siphokazi Jonas, Xabiso Vili, Sabelo Soko and Modise Segkothe. Joining them will be Mana Bugallo from Argentina and Lydol from Cameroon will show if it is possible to tilt the scales of poetic forms toward abstracted and experimental dimensions in “Tilting the Scales”. The audience can expect an evening of defiant poetry in its content and presentation.

In 2022, most of the festival programme will be presented live in Durban, with an On Tour programme with performances in Johannesburg and throughout KwaZulu-Natal. Lastly, a selection of seminars and readings will be presented online. During the 10-day programme, one can expect over 35 poets from South Africa, Africa, and the world.

The entire programme will be available here.
Tickets are available at R30 for students and pensioners and R50 for general access, here.