An International Poetry Festival takes place in South Africa once a year, with Poets from all around the globe. This included the Netherlands, South Africa, Mozambique, USA and many more. The event stretches over a week, but unfortunately I could only make it to the finale (October, 4th). The Finale that took place at the BAT Centre (a local centre of creative arts and music) was a huge success. I was honored to read there at the event. I represented a local poetry club called Live Poets Society (LiPS).
It is a truly amazing experience to watch creative people coming together and sharing their work. There was some powerful and some immature stuff read there. Unfortunately listening to what is there doesn’t always guarantee it’ll be your style, but nonetheless part of it is supporting others.
The event was predominantly attended by black people, so there was a slam/rap/off the cuff style that stood out. Themes such as: repression, ethnic violence, erotica, surrealism and traditional poetry were brought to life. It was also refreshing to hear some western style poetry, and some African Hip Hop right at the end. The Kenyan storyteller (Bantu Mwaura) had the whole crowd mesmerized. His reverberating sentences, and naked silences kept all of us entranced.
My favorite poet of the evening had to be the American Poet, Carlos Gomez. He performed slam. He performed with angst and fluidity. He spoke of xenophobia, expressing that we should all speak our minds.
It was hard to forget Marjolijn van Heemstra who spoke of a super market experience; the Netherlands poet first read in her own language and proceeded in English. There was Gary Cummiskey who read his famous poem “Voodoo”, Jitsvinger who dazzled all with his skill on the guitar, the wry Anton Krueger who remarked that he thought the BAT centre rehabilitated wildlife, and Rogerio Manjate who read a poem in Portuguese.
Poetry Africa happens every year in September/October. Highly recommended, it’s an experience you have to have, even if it’s the only one.