Poetry Africa set to rock Durban

The Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre will be the epicenter of poetry activities when it plays host to the15th Poetry Africa, International Poetry Festival.

Organised by the Centre for Creative Arts, University of KwaZulu-Natal, the festival will start on 17 October and end on 22 October 2011. With 20 participants from 12 different countries completing the line-up, the week long programme features performances, book-launches, music every evening and open mic sessions, seminars, workshops, poetry competitions, and school visits during the day.


As per tradition of the event, 5 poets will perform each evening, with 17 October being an exception. In an effort to highlight the issues relating to climate change and the Cop 17 climate change conference that will be held in Durban in November, the opening night will witness the legendary teaser for all poets focus on environmental and planetary challenges.

18 October includes the Poets in Dialogue program with Durban-born poet and winner of Durban SlamJam at last year’s Poetry Africa, Dashen Naicker alongside Mysha Jenkins.An activist, writer and performer in her own right. Jenkins has enjoyed noticeable presence on the Jorburg scene for the past 15years. Last seen on the Durban stage in 2005 in the Feelah Collective, prior to her performance Jenkins will make her return by launching her second collection of poetry, Flight of Dreams. African child, UK- based Khadijatou, will make up the Poetry Performance prelude with Raul Zurita. Khadijatou, a founding director and producer of Step Afrika is well known for her voice and signature djembe drum through the underground poetry circles and jazz scenes. Representing Latin America is one of the most powerful and controversial voices of Chilean poetry Raul Zurita. His Dantean trilogy of books about the demise that followed the military overthrowing of democracy in Chile was composed over a span of 15 years. His many accolades include the Chilean National Prize for Literature and a Guggenheim Fellowship.


 Letters to Dennis

In memory of poet Dennis Brutus the chosen Letters to Dennis poet for 2011 is Shaija Patel of Kenya. The programme slot was introduced last year in honour of the late activist. Patel, a professionally trained political scientist and accountant is a founding member of Kenyans for Peace, Truth and Justice (KPTJ) and is the recipient of numerous awards. With work translated in 15 languages, this renowned poet and dedicated activist was named by the African Women’s Development Fund as one of the Fifty Inspirational African Feminists for the 100th anniversary of International Women’s Day. 

Amongst many other programmes that will offer diversity, innovative, and insightful approaches to poetry is the Sol Plaatje European Union Poetry Award on 20 October with featured poets, David waMaahlamela, Sandile Dikeni and Fernando Rendon of Colombia.


Audiences and poetry fanatics can look forward to engaging, sharp social and political commentary, streetwise and sassy performances fused with elements of contemporary rap and hip-hop. The festival finale will be held at BAT Centre on 22 October.

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