Poetry Africa Unearths New Talent

The University of KwaZulu-Natal’s Centre for Creative Arts (CCA), with principal funding from the City of Durban, on the 14th and the 15th of September held its auditions for Durban’s emerging poets to take part in the 21st Poetry Africa festival (17–20 October) as Prelude Poets.

The programme, which started in 2011, gives the city’s poets the opportunity to showcase their work to audiences at the Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre, at the country’s premier poetry festival, where they get to share the stage with some of the country’s, continent and the globe’s most established poets.

At the auditions the poets auditioned with performances including reading their works, performance poetry, slam poetry, some with musical items and props and praise poetry. Entrants were required to perform original pieces within a five-minute time slot.

Forty something including walk-ins and homeless aspiring poets blessed the judges with their artistry to a point where 4 spots were just not enough. After hours of deliberations (back and forth) it was finally decided that our Prelude Poets for 2017 would be: Yenziwe Sithole, Tuffo Da Bulletman, Malusi Ndlovu and ironically a walk-in Thembalethu Ntuli

Some of the poets who have previously showcased their talents as Prelude Poets including Nosipho Magcaba, Kwazi Dlangisa, Khanyi Shusha, Page Ngwenya, Tumelo Khoza and Tshebelotso Mohale. They have all since participated on the Poetry Africa stage as main feature poets.

Judging their work were residential artists of the CCA Onke Mtshali and Mcebisi Sithole, Talents coordinator Menzi Mhlongo, Assistant Talents coordinator Lungile Ngubelanga, and Journalist and former news reporter Sinethemba Makrwalana.

Member of the judging panel, Mcebisi said, it’s actually amazing how much raw talent there is in Durban and he added by saying, him and the other judges felt bad because there were only four spots where else the talent they experienced behind those closed doors far supersedes the number of spots allocated.

And one of the inspiring preludes Zodwa when asked why was she auditioning for Poetry Africa Preludes said, Poetry Africa is the biggest poetry festival in South Africa and to be part of it would be her greatest experience in poetry yet, “even if I don’t make it through to the final cut I’m happy because that means someone was better than me, ultimately that means someone deserving made it through. But even if I don’t make it through I will forever cherish this day, because this is the day I had a chance to meet some of the finest the poetry and the spoken word industry has to offer.

Presented by the Centre for Creative Arts (University of KwaZulu Natal), the 21st Poetry Africa is made possible by the continued support of the eThekwini Municipality, KZN Department of Arts and Culture and Alliance Française de Durban, Institut Ramon lull, Ukrainian Association of South Africa. The Centre for Creative Arts is housed in the School of Arts, College of Humanities at the University of KwaZulu Natal.

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