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Archive for the ‘Africa’ Category

Programme announced for the 19th Time of the Writer (14 – 19 March)

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The Centre for Creative Arts (UKZN) has announced the lineup and programme for the Time of the Writer festival, as well as new partnerships for its 19th edition.

10 writers from South Africa and Africa will meet for a week of stimulating literary dialogue and exchange of ideas. Audiences will be able to engage with award-winning writers, from a variety of political and social contexts, on the creative and technical processes and perspectives which shape their writing. Evening readings and discussions will take place at 7 PM at eKhaya Multi Arts Centre (KwaMashu), Ohlange High School (Inanda), Umkhumbane Hall (Cato Manor), Umlazi Cinema and Clermont Hall.

This years panel discussions couples authors whose writings share semiotic marrow and are loosely titled after books and papers that echo their literary sentiment.

The evening panels are:

The Madness of History – Tuesday 15th March (eKhaya Multi Arts Centre – KwaMashu)

Ashwin Desai and Mishka Hoosen will have a conversation on the importance of retrospective meditations on self, historical figures and the family.

Why Must a Black Writer Write About Blackness? – Wednesday 16th March (Ohlange High School)

In this Dany Laferrière inspired panel discussion Panashe Chigamudzi and Eusebius McKaiser share their experiences as writers who write without curiosity’s gaze.

They Write What They Like – Thursday 17th March (Umkhumbane Hall – Cato Manor)

Crossing the borders from short stories to novellas to poetry to essays, writer Niq Mhlongo gives insight into his unique take on the world across genres and mediums.

Tuning In … – Friday 18th March (Umlazi Cinema)

Writing for listeners is an art that requires its own stage, a stage of which Christa Biyela and Mandla Ndlovu are accomplished masters. These two audio drama maestros open their lyrical vaults and with it the history and depth of the Zulu audio drama.

The Alchemy of Fiction – Saturday 19th March (Clermont Hall)

How pliable is truth? Can one measure the elasticity of the human imagination and if pushed, would one ever erase the self from one’s own story? In this panel, musician turned author Nakhane Touré and Nikhil Singh discuss the roles fantasy, biography and imagination play in the erection of the worlds they create.

Conversations that Matter

As part of the festival’s focus on decolonising South African literature the festival will gather leading voices from every facet of literature in the areas of writing, editing, publishing, translation, marketing, bookselling and promotion (including events), to interrogate the central question of how to go about decolonising literature in South Africa, from writing to readership.

Conversations that Matter is a daytime programme of roundtable discussions, led by experts across the various fields of literature, that provides a space for people to share and contribute towards this vital topic of decolonisation within literature.

The following topics will be under discussion during the day from 11 AM:

Conversations That Matter: The Book & Knowledge Production – Tuesday 15th March 2016 (KwaMashu Library)

Writers Niq Mhlongo, Panashe Chigamudzi, TO Molefe, Percy Zvomuya, Nakanjani Sibiya and poet Mputlane wa Bofelo meet to expose the landmines that await writers who render text that challenges literary traditions and their inherent exclusion of certain voices.

Conversations That Matter: The Book & GateKeepers – Wednesday 16th March 2016 (Ohlange Library)

To probe the accessibility of literary institutions and the tribulations of those tasked with creating that access, this conversation culls from the experiences of both publishers and distributors. Has the South African literary landscape shifted to accommodate previously poorly documented and valued contributions? Which attitudes delay decolonising access? To open the discussion are Prof. Sihawu Ngubane, Thabiso Mahlape, Kholeka Mabeta, Duduzile Mabaso, Mandla Matyumza, Siphiwo Mahala.

Conversations That Matter: The Book & Readership – Thursday 17th March 2016 (UmKhumbane Hall – Cato Manor)

To explore questions on readership often posed to booksellers, librarians and festival organisers are Cedric Sissing (Adams Books), Benjamin Trisk (Exclusive Books), Fortescue Helepi (African Flavour Books), Sinenhlanhla Buthelezi (Goethe Library), Tebogo Mzizi (eThekwini Municipality Libraries), Mignon Hardie (FunDza Literacy Trust), Frankie Murrey (Open Book Festival), Dr. Maria Van Driel (Jozi Book Fair) and Jennifer Platt (Sunday Times). This conversation draws on the challenges of pricing, public expectations and historical misconceptions on reading cultures in South Africa.

Conversations That Matter: The Book & Language – Friday 18th March (Umlazi Library)

An interrogation of the notion of linguistic hierarchies in print media, literature and academic institutions requires contributions from academics and cultural producers whose careers are dedicated to the preservation and promotion of marginalized languages. This conversation will be initiated by Eric Ngcobo, Dr. Mpho Monareng, Dr. Gugu Mazibuko, Dr. Pamella Maseko, Prof. Nobuhle Hlongwa and Wangui Wa Goro.

Conversations That Matter: The Book & Intersectionality – Saturday 19th March 2016 (Qashane Library)

As a result of recent shifts in the quality of contributions produced outside the academy, the topic of Intersectionality has relocated academics and social commentators alike. The youth are proving to be the aorta of the argument and keeping pulse with contemporary readings on Intersectionality demands the voices of those who bravely tackle this pertinent and inflammatory subject. To open the discussion are Eusebuis McKaiser, Milisuthando Bongela, Nakhane Touré, Lindokuhle Nkosi, Mputlane Wa Bofelo, Mbali Matandela and Zethu Matebeni.

Event information

The 19th edition of the festival is presented in partnership with various organisations including the eThekwini Municipality Libraries department whose involvement supports the community engagement programme of the festival by hosting Conversations that Matter in public libraries.

All events are FREE to library or student cardholders. For members of the public without either card, a nominal fee of R20 will be requested at the box office from one hour before the event. The eThekwini Municipal Libraries along with The Centre for Creative Arts will be on hand at each venue in order to aid those without library cards to sign up for one on the spot, all that it requires is a valid ID document and proof of residence.

For more details about this years’ Time of the Writer, visit the www.cca.ukzn.ac.za or call 031 260 2506.

Organised by the Centre for Creative Arts (University KwaZulu-Natal), the 19th Time of the Writer is supported by eThekwini Municipality, the National Department of Arts and Culture Alliance Française de Durban. The Centre for Creative Arts is housed in the College of Humanities at the University of KwaZulu-Natal and is a special project of the Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Professor Cheryl Potgieter.

 
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UnimportanceRumoursChasing The Tails of My Father’s CattleTram 83The Story of Anna P, as Told by HerselfWhat Will People Say
London – Cape Town – JoburgAfrican DelightsSongs and Stories of Africa

 
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Special programme for 19th Time of the Writer, 14 – 19 March 2016

 

19th Time of the Writer | 14 – 19 March 2016

 
The Centre for Creative Arts (UKZN) is proud to announce a change in venues and a special programme for the 19th Time of The Writer, which takes place from 14 to 19 March in Durban, under the theme Decolonising the Book.

A nationwide conversation on inclusiveness in the South African literature landscape began at the 2015 edition of Time of the Writer, sparked off by South African writer Thando Mgqolozana. In order to provide a platform for conversation and debate on this issue, this year’s edition of the festival will gather the leading voices from every facet of literature in the areas of writing, editing, publishing, translation, marketing, bookselling and promotion (including events), to deliberate on the salient issues pertinent to the transformation and growth of literature in South Africa. This theme aims to interrogate the central question of how to go about decolonising literature in South Africa, from writing to readership.

Conversations that Matter is a daytime programme of roundtable discussions, led by experts across the various fields of literature, that provides a space for people to share and contribute towards this vital topic. The nightly evening panels will then feature a summative discussion on the day’s deliberations.

The 19th edition of the festival is presented in partnership with the eThekwini Municipality Libraries department in whose libraries the day programme will take place.

This year’s edition of the festival features a shift in venue for the evening panels as each day the festival will take place in a different location across the surrounding areas of Durban; venues are located in Clermont, Cato Manor, Umlazi, Inanda and KwaMashu.

“We are very excited about the plans for this year’s festival, which came about as a result of a growing call from within the literary world and South Africa as whole for increased diversity, access and inclusiveness. The Centre for Creative Arts would like to acknowledge one of South Africa’s leading writers Thando Mgqolozana who has been very vocal about change in our society and has assisted in the programming of this edition of the festival,” says Tiny Mungwe, festival manager at the Centre for Creative Arts. “The change is very big for us and by breaking from years of tradition we will have another set of operational challenges, but it is something we believe is absolutely crucial for the festival and for the face of literature in South Africa if we are to effect some kind of shift in our thinking.”

The line-up of writers and venues will be announced in a few weeks time.

All events FREE to library or student cardholders. For members of the public without either card, a nominal fee of R20 will be requested at the door one hour before the event.

For more details about this years’ Time of the Writer, visit the festival web page or call (031) 260 2506

Organised by the Centre for Creative Arts (University KwaZulu-Natal), the 19th Time of the Writer is supported by the City of Durban, the National Department of Arts and Culture, The Goethe-Institut and the French Institute of South Africa. The Centre for Creative Arts is housed in the College of Humanities at the University of KwaZulu-Natal and is a special project of the Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Professor Cheryl Potgieter.


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19th Poetry Africa Festival to Host Insightful Workshops at Rivertown Beerhall

19th Poetry Africa - Participants Announced

 
The 19th Poetry Africa Festival will be offering three insightful workshops which will be taking place on the 17th October at the Beerhall gallery from 10: 00 to 13:00. The workshops form part of a teeming line up of festivities to finalise the week-long festival which begins on Monday, October 12.

The workshops include:

  • Advancing Poetry through Events – Organisers of Poetry events in Durban and South Africa (Thabiso Mohare, Vus’umuzi Phakathi and Mxolisi Mtshali) will be speaking about the impact of a growing literary society
  • Making Durban a liveable City – Through Arts Development – Representatives from the eThekwini Parks and Recreation (Themba Mchunu) and National Arts Council (Andrew Nkadimeng) will host a session promoting available programs for the development and preservation of literature in KwaZulu-Natal
  • Finding your Voice – Poetry Africa participants (Mthunzikazi Mbungwana, Nii Parkes and Aryan Kaganof) facilitate a session on finding your creative voice.

 
All workshops are free and open to the public.

Tickets for the festival finale at Rivertown cost R70 (pre-sale or R80 at the door) and can be purchased from Computicket.

For more information go to www.cca.ukzn.ac.za or like the PoetryAfrica Facebook page or follow @PoetryAfrica on Twitter.

Presented by the Centre for Creative Arts (University of KwaZulu-Natal) and made possible by support from the eThekwini Municipality, KZN Department of Arts and Culture, National Arts Council and the Goethe Institute. The Centre for Creative Arts is housed in the College of Humanities at the University of KwaZulu-Natal and is a special project of the Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Professor Cheryl Potgieter.
 
Poetry Africa Details

 
Workshop Details

  • Date: Saturday, 17 October 2015
  • Time: 10 AM – 1 PM
  • Venue: Rivertown Beer Hall
    102 Florence Nzama St (formerly Prince Alfred St)
    Durban | Map
  • Speakers: (Mthunzikazi Mbungwana, Nii Parkes, Aryan Kaganof, Thabiso Mohare, Vus’umuzi Phakathi and Mxolisi Mtshali, Themba Mchunu, Andrew Nkadimeng
  • Cost: Free

 

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Have a look at some of the books by participants of the 19th Poetry Africa festival:

Piggy Boy's BluesTail of the Blue BirdIn a Ribbon of RhythmA Half Century ThingAdults OnlyWenaRunning

 

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19th Poetry Africa Festival – Participants Announced

19th Poetry Africa - Participants Announced
Piggy Boy's BluesTail of the Blue BirdIn a Ribbon of RhythmA Half Century ThingAdults OnlyWenaRunning

 
A select group of poets from South Africa and around the world will gather together in Durban from 12 – 17 October, showcasing the face of spoken word and storytelling at the 19th Poetry Africa Festival.

Hosted by the University of KwaZulu-Natal’s Centre for Creative Arts, Poetry Africa provides a space for intercultural exchange and dialogue by hosting an extensive community outreach programme with poetry readings, performances and workshops in community centres, campuses and also participate in a programme of visits to schools across Durban to share ideas about poetry.

Evening poetry readings and discussions will take place at the Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre (Howard College) UKZN. The festival finale will take place on October 17 at the Rivertown Beer Hall in Durban’s CBD, with a closing performance by soulful singer Nakhane Touré, whose debut novel Piggy Boy’s Blues has just been released.

This year’s festival features 24 poets:

UK-based Kat Francois, is a comedienne, playwright, actress, performer, host, schools and youth facilitator and a well‐known performance poet both in her country and globally. Lebohang “Nova” Masango, is a Swedish-born writer, poet, activist, feminist and speaker, and UK-based Ghanaian performance poet, writer and sociocultural commentator Nii Parkes.

From South Africa comes the celebrated and prolific poet and actress Lebo Mashile, who, was named one of the Top 100 Africans by New African magazine; Lesego Rampolokeng, the renowned hard-hitting South African writer, playwright and performance poet who has a new collection out now; Aryan Kaganof, a filmmaker, novelist, poet and fine artist, who refers to himself as a project of African Noise Foundation and who had a short story recently featured in Adults Only; Ntsiki Mazwai, the outspoken and incendiary poet, writer and musician; and Thabiso ‘Afurakan’ Mohare, one of the pioneers of the modern South African spoken word scene.

KZN-based poets include Africa Dlamini, a slam/spoken word poet who lives in Howick; Durban’s Celiswa Majali, whose novel Imbali yentombazanana is used by schools at grade 10 level in the Western Cape and Gauteng Provinces. Also from Durban are Khanyi Shusha, a diviner, performance art poet, stylist, designer, facilitator, brown consciousness activist, feminist and writer; Kwazi Ndlangisa, a South African award-winning performance poet, vocalist, creative writer and art activist; Matt Vend, who is well-known across South Africa for his poetically-driven songwriting, unique rhythmic guitar playing and engaging live performances; Nokulunga Dladla, a passionate recording poetry artist and a storyteller as well as an educator in the Pinetown District; Nosipho Magcaba, a former “prelude poet” at the festival, who returns this year to the main programme; Tshebeletso Mohale also a former “prelude poet” at Poetry Africa 2014 who lives and works in Durban; Thando Fuze, who has twice been nominated for Best Female Performing Poet at the Original Material Awards; and Vus’umuzi Phakathi, an award winning South African poet, writer, performer, facilitator and producer.

Other featured poets include Icebound Makhele, a spoken word performer, writer, cultural activist and events coordinator from Bloemfontein; Makhosazana Xaba, the author of two poetry collections and a feminist activist with experience in women’s health, philanthropy and the anti-apartheid struggle; Mbali Vilakazi, the award-winning South African poet, performer, curator and speaker, who has a dynamic style and collaborative experimental approach; Mthunzikazi Mbungwana, a poet, writer and storyteller from a small village of Upper Indwana in Cala in the former Transkei; Mutle Mothibe, who has spent the last 15 years honing his skills a writer and performer and is also an accomplished workshop facilitator who regularly engages both learners and educators; and Limpopo-born Vonani Bila, a poet and musician who has written eight storybooks for newly literate adult readers in Sepedi, Xitsonga and English, and who recently launched a new collection, Bilakhulu!

Tickets for the evening sessions, which take place at 7 PM at the Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre, are R40 (students/pensioners: R25 at the door) and can be purchased at Computicket or one hour before the performance begins at the box office. Tickets for the festival finale at Rivertown cost R70 (pre-sale or R80 at the door) and can be purchased from Computicket.

For more information go to www.cca.ukzn.ac.za, like the Facebook page PoetryAfrica or follow on Twitter @PoetryAfrica.

Presented by the Centre for Creative Arts (University of KwaZulu-Natal) and made possible by support from the eThekwini Municipality, KZN Department of Arts and Culture, National Arts Council and the Goethe Institut. The Centre for Creative Arts is housed in the College of Humanities at the University of KwaZulu-Natal and is a special project of the Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Professor Cheryl Potgieter.

Event Details

 

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2015 Time of the Writer Programme Revealed

2015 Time of the Writer Programme Revealed

 
Alert! The programme for the 2015 Time of the Writer Festival has been released.

The festival takes place in Durban from 16 and 21 March.

The 18th Time of the Writer Festival will kick off on Monday, 16 March at the Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre, with a musical performance by Thuli and Chillie, hosted by Tiny Mungwe.

This will be followed by a tribute to André Brink, who passed away recently, and the festival opening address, which will be delivered by Professor Cheryl Potgieter of the University of KwaZulu-Natal.

Other themes that feature during the week’s events are crime writing, storytelling, memoir and fiction, writing from the margins, and female narratives.

The lineup for this year’s festival includes NoViolet Bulawayo, Carol Campbell, Imraan Coovadia, ZP Dala, Ousmane Diarra, Dilman Dila, Jacob Dlamini, Ekow Duker, Craig Higginson, Mandla Langa, Thando Mgqolozana, Kirsten Miller, MJ Mngadi, Nthikeng Mohlele, Given Mukwevho, Futhi Ntshingila, Sue Nyathi, Charlotte Otter, Margaret von Klemperer, Mzilikazi wa Afrika.
 

 
Subscribe to this list on Twitter to follow tweets by 2015 TOTW authors:

 
Have a look at the full programme:

2015 Time of the Writer Festival Programme by Books LIVE

 
 

Books by guests of Time of the Writer:

We Need New NamesEsther's House’n Huis vir EsterTales of the Metric SystemnullA Killing in the Sun
AskariWhite WahalaThe Texture of ShadowsUnimportanceSister MoonKusemhlabeni Lapha
Rusty BellThe Violent Gestures of LifeDo Not Go GentleThe PolygamistBalthasar's GiftJust a Dead ManNothing Left to Steal

 

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Sterling Line-up Announced for the 2015 Time of the Writer Festival

 
The lineup for the 18th Time of the Writer Festival has been announced, including the who’s who of South African literature.

Presented by the Centre for Creative Arts (University of KwaZulu-Natal) and made possible by support from the Department of Arts and Culture, the City of Durban, the French Institute (IFAS) and the Goethe Institute, the 18th edition of the festival will take place in Durban between 16 and 21 March.

 
The lineup for the 2015 Time of the Writer:

NoViolet Bulawayo, Zimbabwe

Carol Campbell, South Africa

Imraan Coovadia, South Africa

ZP Dala, South Africa

Ousmane Diarra, Mali

Dilman Dila, Uganda

Jacob Dlamini, South Africa

Ekow Duker, South Africa

Craig Higginson, South Africa

Mandla Langa, South Africa

Thando Mgqolozana, South Africa

Kirsten Miller, South Africa

MJ Mngadi, South Africa

Nthikeng Mohlele, South Africa

Given Mukwevho, South Africa

Futhi Ntshingila, South Africa

Sue Nyathi, Zimbabwe

Charlotte Otter, South Africa

Margaret Von Klemperer, South Africa

Mzilikazi wa Afrika, South Africa

The theme for this year’s festival, Writing For Our Lives, calls attention to the urgent continuing struggle of all writers in speaking truth and bearing witness to the times through their words. Globally writers are combatting censorship when the truth is too hard to swallow, challenging the reader’s perspective and sparking a passion for literature in our youth.

During this activity-rich week, audiences can expect to engage with a multitude of award-winning writers, from a wide range of political and social contexts, on the creative and technical processes and perspectives which shape their writing.

Evening readings and discussions will take place at the Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre (Howard College Campus) while wide reaching free day programmes are spread across Durban and the surrounding areas as part of the festival’s ongoing efforts to promote and nurture a culture of creative expression through reading and writing. This includes school visits, a publishing forum and a range of seminars and workshops.

Ticket information

Ticket cost R25 for the evening sessions and R10 for students on presentation of a student card. Workshops, seminars and book launches are free of charge. Book through Computicket Tel: 0861 915 8000 or 011 340 8000 or online at online.computicket.com or at the Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre from 6 PM.

For more information contact the Centre for Creative Arts, University of KwaZulu-Natal by phone on +27 31 260 2506/1816 or email info@cca-ukzn.co.za.

We Need New NamesEsther's House’n Huis vir EsterTales of the Metric SystemnullA Killing in the Sun
AskariWhite WahalaThe Texture of ShadowsUnimportanceSister MoonKusemhlabeni Lapha
Rusty BellThe Violent Gestures of LifeDo Not Go GentleThe PolygamistBalthasar's GiftJust a Dead ManNothing Left to Steal

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Call to Undiscovered Poets to Audition for the Poetry Africa Festival

 
The 18th Poetry Africa International Poetry Festival will take place from 13 to 18 October 2014.

The Centre for Creative Arts (University of KwaZulu-Natal), with principal funding from the City of Durban and the Department of Arts and Culture, calls out to Durban’s creative and undiscovered poets to take part in the festival Prelude Poets programme as part of the 18th Poetry Africa International Festival.

The Poetry Africa festival, which takes place from 13 to 18 October, brings together some of the world’s finest poets and musicians to Durban, with artists from the African continent and beyond.

Poetry Africa is looking for four of Durban’s brightest undiscovered poets to take part in the Prelude Poet programme which gives the city’s creative and original poets the opportunity to showcase their hidden talents to audiences at the country’s premier poetry festival.

Participants will be required to audition original works with a five minute limit. Auditions will take place at The Centre for Creative Arts (University of KwaZulu-Natal Howard College Campus) on 5 September 2014. Auditions will be assigned on a first-come-first-serve basis. To book an audition time, send an email with full names and contact details with Poetry Africa Prelude Auditions in the subject title to poetryafrica@cca-ukzn.co.za

For more details about this year’s Poetry Africa, visit www.cca.ukzn.ac.za or call (031) 2602506.

Organised by the Centre for Creative Arts (University KwaZulu-Natal), the 18th Poetry Africa is funded by the City of Durban and the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Arts and Culture. The Centre for Creative Arts is housed in the College of Humanities at the University of KwaZulu-Natal and is a special project of the Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Professor Cheryl Potgieter.


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Time of the Writer 2013: Steinberg and Desai on “Writing the Other”, Hassim and Molope on “Writing Gender”

Jonny Steinberg Ashwin Desai

 
Little LiberiaReading RevolutionNon-fiction authors Jonny Steinberg and Ashwin Desai, were quizzed on “Writing the Other” by facilitator Federico Settler at Saturday’s session at the 16th annual Time of the Writer International Writers Festival.

Steinberg, most recently the author of Little Liberia: An African Odyssey in New York, is attached to the Centre for African Studies in Oxford, and winner of the Windham-Campbell Prize for Literature, was asked how his work differs from that of fiction writers. Steinberg answered that he “can’t get into somebody else’s head”, but that he has to write from what he knows. He added that he “wouldn’t presume to give voice to the other,” but instead gets to know his interviewee very well, and “writes about that relationship”.

Ashwin Desai, political commentator, explained that writing about interviews conducted in the place he calls home, Durban, was difficult in that “one can’t escape one’s own biography”. He said in his book, Reading Revolution: Shakespeare on Robben Island, he wanted to talk about what happens when the “Calibans come to power” (referring to Shakespeare’s The Tempest), noting that they often end up acting as “Prosperos”.

Steinberg explained that when he tries to understand the people he writes about, he asks himself “how they feel about their own death”. He explained that his forthcoming book, to be published early in 2014, focuses on a Somali man who led a “deracinated life in Somali, until he saved enough money to hitch-hike to SA, where he now runs a spaza shop in Blikkiesdorp”. He noted that this man insisted on all the interviews he gave Steinberg being held in Steinberg’s car, so that he could see “tsotsis” coming, if there were any, “in a way, trying to escape his own murder”. This gave a sense of the xenophobic conditions under which he had to live, as opposed to Steinberg’s relative safety as a white man.

At question time, a member of the audience asked Steinberg about Little Liberia, querying why there was a “muting of gender” in the text. Steinberg replied that he tends to sink more into the lives of the men he interviews, “perhaps because of projection and the ability to imagine myself in their shoes”. He said however, that “one day I hope to write intimately about a woman”. He said it was important for a writer not to speak over a reader’s head, but to “trust your reader to be able to work out what you show him/her, which must be the guts of it, the story”. He noted how one of his Liberian protagonists found it very traumatic to have sex with his wife for the first time, because she had undergone female circumcision. He then became virulently opposed to it. His wife however, supported the practice, and insisted on her daughters being circumcised too. “Swooping down on cultural practices from the outside doesn’t work,” said Steinberg, “it has to happen from the inside and outside at the same time”.

Desai slated the rhetoric of post-colonial academics who analyse subaltern writing against the dominant discourse, saying it “doesn’t get you closer to the magic”. He said that interviewing people
for his book on Robben Island “humbled” him, although it didn’t stop him from being critical. He noted that “research is a messy business”.

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Onion TearsSoPhiaThis Book Betrays my BrotherA curiously vulnerable second session focused on “Writing Gender Violence”. The tone was hesitant and yet determined.

Shubnum Khan, author of Onion Tears, said she believed domestic violence’s power comes from “its secrecy and shame”, and welcomed the opportunity to move the discussion from beyond the private confines of the home, to a more public sphere. Shafinaaz Hassim read from her recently published book Sophia, a novel about domestic violence, followed by Kagiso Molope who read from her novel about rape, called This Book Betrays my Brother. Hassim said she chooses to write about violence because she’s a sociologist researching the issue, but wants to unpack these stories “not scientifically, but for a broader audience”. Molope said she grew up in a violent township where she witnessed many attacks on women, and always “wanted to write about the role of the witness. Do you speak out? Make excuses for the men?”

Khan asked the authors to comment on why victims who endure trauma often are further victimised. Hassim said she believes this comes from a “pseudo self-righteous culture of denialism”, where “it has become acceptable to blame the victim for her abuse,” so that she can then be “punished / disciplined / fixed”. Molope said in her book the brother accused of rape rejects his sister when she tries to talk to him about what has happened: and then he excludes her from his community, revealing that her challenge has become a threat for an entire group, not just an individual.

Khan mentioned several high-profile rape/assault cases that have appeared in the media lately, for instance, the rape and murder of Anene Booysen in the Cape, and the shooting of Oscar Pistorius’s girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp. Hassim said that it is reassuring that there is a renewed consciousness around gender violence, because it is important that civil society fights back. Molope said, from what she has gathered from talking to township people, women in SA are “under siege”, they feel that there is a civil war against them and children.

An audience member asked Hassim whether she believes fiction can be a form of self-help. She said she lent Sophia to someone in an abusive marriage, who chose not to leave. Hassim said perhaps it was too early to see her action as a failed attempt. A man from the audience asked the authors whether they thought a man could write about gender-based violence. Molope said she believed one needs to include “many perspectives”. Another question focused on whether violence can have emancipatory possibilities. Molope said we can’t dictate how victims respond to violence, while Hassim mentioned a movie she saw about an Indian woman who burned her abusive husband to death in a house fire. Molope said it is always a victim’s choice to react in a certain way, but “you owe it yourself to just be you”.

Centre for Creative Arts co-ordinator, Tinso Mungwe, then wrapped up the festival with a vote of thanks for the organisers, funders, and authors.

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Poetry Africa 2012, Fourth Evening: Siddiq Khan, Nii Ayikwei Parkes, Rustum Kozain, D’bi Young and More!

Poetry Africa

 
The Sol Plaatje European Union Poetry Anthology Volume II was launched at the Wellington Tavern on Thursday night. Later, at Poetry Africa 2012’s main event, in the Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre, Oswald Mtshali, renowned poet, and chair of this year’s selection committee noted that “poetry has immeasurable range. It is enriching spiritually and emotionally”. He commended the publisher of the collection, the Jacana Literary Foundation, for promoting poetry, saying as an adjudicator it took “superhuman” effort to choose between the two finalists for this year’s award.

Neels Jenssen from the EU took the mic, commending all the poets published in this year’s anthology. He said “your work is another stepping stone towards a common culture in SA”. He announced that Vonani Bila had won second prize with his poem, “boys from seshego”, while Siddiq Khan was the overall winner with his poem “Anthem for Old Nations”. An insouciant, confident Khan then read his poem.

The Sol Plaatje European Union Poetry Anthology Vol IIThere is a PlaceHandsome JitaThe Makings of YouGroundworkRivers...and Other Blackness...Between Us

Ghanaian poet Nii Ayikwei Parkes set a low-key, mellow tone for the main evening’s line-up. He brought in a musical element, asking us to “compare the weight of a guitar string / to the weight of the people it moves”. Although he tackled difficult topics, like slavery, his melodious voice, and nuanced lyrics stood in sharp contrast to some of the angrier poets attending this year’s festival who also wrote about racism. In a humourous poem called “This is not a love poem”, Parkes wrote “this is not a love poem – it’s a sexed-up dossier … a lingering breath of hot air / as it creeps up your thighs / it’s a game, a solo, while I riff a plan to strip you of everything you own”. In the next poem, called “This is a love poem”, Parkes cajoled the woman of his dreams to let him make “you a part of me”.

Niels Hav, from Denmark, the next poet up on stage was funny too, but not erotic. He explained that for him, poetry must be “emblematic. A reader must feel at home with his own feelings in my poem”. He wrote about falling in love with five consecutive women he sees on a bus, who don’t notice him, concluding wryly: “It always ends up that way, you are left standing on a curb, sucking on a cigarette, mildly unhappy”. I loved his poem about a pen where he said: “Poetry is not for sissies / a poem must be a Dow Jones index / a mixture of reality and sheer bluff”. He congratulated SA on “moving in the right direction”, reading a poem he wrote about the country years ago, focussing on the “butterfly effect”, how a small change in one part of the world can create ripples far away. A pragmatic poet, Hav concluded: “if you want something said / you’ll have to say it yourself”. His last poem, concise, pointed, dealt with the end of Western society: “we’ll be gone / they’ll be gone / Hallelujah”.

Last up before the interval was beloved SA poet, Rustum Kozain. His poetry, a mixture of earnestness, passion and melancholia, never fails to cut to the quick. Reading a poem about his first lover, he referred to the “failed algorithms of heartbreak”. Although aware that “it’s not done to apostrophise some romantic absence”, he focussed on the perpetual presence of hurt, both politically (as in apartheid) and privately (romantically). He premiered two new poems not performed publicly before. The first one, “Gods of War”, inspired by a photograph of two sisters in contemporary Syria, was raw and intense, questioning the existence of God in a world tainted by the brutality of war. Kozain asked: “Who wants to rule this tired republic of shame and men in suits smirking / when God dies in Syria, where he was made / what does it matter?” His poetry evinces a visionary element, he is in search of something sacred, as revealed by the last poem he read, “Kingdom of Rain II”, from his second collection Groundwork. This poem shows ecological thinking as the poet explores his feeling of kinship with a leopard: “Yes, I want to let that leopard know / that it is part of me / and I am part of it / in all the ways that that could mean.”

After the interval, D’bi Young, a bold warrior poet from Jamaica (currently living in Cape Town), arrested the audience with her provocative poems about taboo topics, such as incest, slavery, HIV/AIDS and menstruation. Sounding a little like Joan Armatrading, she sang about her need for acceptance, and a revolution of love.

Closing the evening session was Tumi Molekane, a well-known SA rapper. Members of the audience, knew his songs by heart, interjected as he spoke about Gangsters: “this one’s a rebel / could kick start a coup d’etat”. Molekane was a performer with panache, thanking Peter Rorvik and the Centre for Creative Arts for “making me collide with all these intellectual people and sex-bombs”. He had the crowd up and dancing with his rendition of “I can’t decide if it’s the money”, before MC Carol Gumede wrapped up, thanking all the poets, and sending us home.

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Poetry Africa 2012, Third Evening: Tumelo Khoza, Gouslaye, Philo Ikonya and More!

Poetry Africa 2012

 
Leading the NightThe Makings of YouMuch loved Thekwini musos Guy Buttery and Nibs van der Spuy, just back from a tour of Europe, provided the intro to the main event on the third evening of Poetry Africa 2012, their guitar work delicate and interesting as usual.

The first poet on stage, Tumelo Khoza, hails from Empangeni, and currently lives in Durban. Young, and confident, dressed simply in jeans and a T-shirt declaiming, “Poet”: Khoza has just returned from visiting Sweden, where she was hosted by the Ordsprak poets (also represented at Poetry Africa this year). Tumelo was inclusive in her delivery, inviting a guitarist to accompany her as she spoke her first poem “Black-padded bra”, then calling up two young male dancers to animate her poem “Democracy”. Feistily, she characterised “Democracy” as a vagrant “forever high on a spliff of our disjointed society…he’s a reflection of you and me”. Khoza’s poem about abortion was hard-hitting and deeply felt; she cried as she performed it. In a playful about-turn of gender roles, she summoned Ghanaian poet Nyii Ayikwei Parkes, on to stage, where she recited a remixed nursery rhyme, which, although a little strained, was admirable in its rendering of her as the active pursuer, and him as the passive recipient of her love interest. Her last poem, a direct address to Jacob Zuma, implored the President to acknowledge SA youth, asserting that “our silence is the cheapest gold”.

Following on from Khoza was a poet from Reunion, Gouslaye, who performed his poetry in Creole (it was translated on an overhead projector). His work was foreign, other: quite eerie, strange and philosophical. Speaking of “magic visions, I dream with eyes wide open”, he summoned up ethereal, occasionally bizarre, often fantastical images of a man wandering through nature. I wondered if the translator had got it wrong, naming Reunion the “barmy” island, or perhaps Gouslaye really did think the island induces madness? The music Gouslaye made with a piece of hosepipe whirled round his head added an element of melodrama.

Last up before interval, Philo Ikonya, a Kenyan poet, showed a strong rootedness in human rights activism. She said she was glad to have had the chance to get a suntan, and braided hair, from “fabulous” Durban. She refuted claims that an activist is like a “female Anopheles mosquito, a blood sucker looking for donor money”, instead noting that the “word is powerful / this optic fibre is here,” and emphasising her belief that a “person is a person because of other people”. Ikonya’s poem dedicated to the 44 miners killed at Marikana was hair-raising, as she brought the audience in to sing “Senzeni Na” (what have we done). Calling for better pay for miners, she said simply, but powerfully, “let us open up new ways/let the miners sing new songs”. In closing Ikonya said she had Mandela’s face in her mind as she performed that poem, she thanked the audience for singing and connected her with the feelings.

After the interval, SA musician Pedro Espi-Sanchez performed one song (played on a piece of Paw-paw sapling he had hollowed out as we watched), and then ushered in Xhosa matriarch and mouthbow player Madosini, in full traditional regalia. The audience ululated as she played songs she had learnt as a girl, which were anthropologically interesting as she revived a way of life gone by.

The last act for the night was Oliver Mtukudzi, a Zimbabwean legend. Strangely quite hesitant at first, the guitarist nevertheless had us in the palm of his hand as he played expertly, explaining: “Where I come from music is like food…also, we use it to diffuse tension”. He explained his world view “life is what you make it”. For me it was interesting to learn more about one of my favourite Mtukudzi songs, “What shall we do”. He explained that he wrote it to get his fellow Zimbabweans thinking about AIDS, saying he felt he had succeeded in making people listen.

Eventually Peter Rorvik, director of the Centre for Creative Arts, and all the poets joined Mtukudzi on stage, dancing as the audience stood up and clapped to the music.

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