Poet Manaka off to Italian festival

POPULAR "spoken word" poet Mak Manaka, pictured, will launch his second book In Time at a major literary festival in Italy.

POPULAR "spoken word" poet Mak Manaka, pictured, will launch his second book In Time at a major literary festival in Italy.

The poet, son of pioneering Soweto choreographer Nomsa and Afrocentric playwright and poet Matsemela, left for the land of the Romans yesterday. He will launch his book at the Mantova International Literature Festival.

"The invitation came after the organisers of the festival got hold of my poems that were translated into Italian.

"This is a major literature event taking place in an ancient, mystical city. I am excited and look forward to launching my book as well as performing there.

"My first book was about my healing after the accident that almost disabled me. This new book, which I will launch here on October 31, is about moving forward after I had healed. October 31 is significant to me because I was injured on October 31 1995.

"This book is to say I am now healed and moving forward with my life after having overcome disability," Manaka told Sowetan yesterday.

Manaka is one of an increasing crop of Johannesburg hippy poets who have over the past few years popularised a form of performance poetry called "spoken word". He and his generation have proven that poetry, like music, can be a source of income by popularising the art form as they perform at functions and poetry festivals.

He published his first book, If Only - a collection of his poems - in 2003.

Manaka was left wheelchair-bound in 1995 after a car drove into his family home in Soweto.

He has now recovered and walks with the aid of crutches after physiotherapy, physical training and encouragement by his choreographer mother.

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