Poetry moves to new rhythm at festival

ONCE again Durban is reverberating with the sounds of poetry at a week-long Poetry Africa International festival.

ONCE again Durban is reverberating with the sounds of poetry at a week-long Poetry Africa International festival.

The 13th edition of the annual event is hosted by the University of KwaZulu-Natal's centre for creative arts. It kicked off at The Workshop's Amphitheatre on Sunday and ends at the Bat Centre on October 10.

Selected poets will perform curtain-raising poems on three separate evenings at the Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre as well as battle it out for the Durban SlamJam crown on October 10 at the Bat Centre.

"Apart from the evening performances, a packed daily programme includes performances, seminars, workshops, poetry competitions, and school visits," the organisers said.

A strong South African delegation is set to wow participants with poet and novelist Mogane Wally Serote, one of the true giants of this country's literature, leading the team.

Serote, winner of numerous local and international awards including the Ingrid Jonker Poetry Prize, the Noma Award for Publishing in Africa and the Pablo Neruda Award from the Chilean government, was a key black consciousness poet who was arrested in 1969 under the Terrorism Act.

Also in the impressive line-up is poet, writer and playwright Lesego Rampolokeng, one of the most influential contemporary poets in South Africa with his bitter-sweet and complex writing and performing.

Regarded as one of the country's national treasures, Jennifer Ferguson, a multi-award winning performer, composer, poet, and classically trained pianist, will be among the jewels to grace the stage.

Other local poets include Sindiwe Magona, a prolific and multi-award winning author, Loftus Marais, Ewok, a well-known face in Durban's theatres who is arguably one of the finest slam poets, Bongani Mavuso, a poet, radio presenter and senior producer at Ukhozi FM, who has been writing and reciting his urgent and socially conscious poetry for more than 12 years.

Mavuso has published numerous anthologies of Zulu poetry and will launch his latest, Zibuyela Ezimpandeni, during the festival.

Magona is also set to launch his first poetry collection at the launch.

Poets from elsewhere on the continent are Susan Kiguli (Uganda), Odia Ofeimun (Nigeria), singer Chigo Gondwe (Malawi), Tania Tome (Mozambique), comedian-slammer and actor Nina Kibunda (DRC) and leading Zimbabwean protest-poet Outspoken, who with his band Essence will close the festival.