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Friday, August 5, 2011


“There is nothing like this for poets anywhere in the world!” exclaims Lebo Mashile at the International Poetry Festival of Medellin held in July in Colombia.

Mashile was performing as part of the Poetry Africa contingent at the festival, which also included Madosini, Pitika Ntuli, Ewok, Were-Were Liking (Ivory Coast), Chiwoniso (Zimbabwe), Shailja Patel (Kenya) and Pedro Espi-Sanchez (Spain/ RSA) within a line-up of over 80 poets from 58 different countries.

Organiser of the Poetry Africa delegation, Peter Rorvik (Centre for Creative Arts, University of KwaZulu-Natal), says “Poetry is part of the psyche of Medellin. Every event, which is spread throughout the parks, public spaces and theatres of this transformed city, draws hundreds, sometimes thousands, of attentive poetry lovers. Poets are treated like rock stars here”. South Africa’s pre-eminent poetry festival has in recent years developed a range of partnerships that have led to Poetry Africa tours to countries such as Kenya, Mozambique, Malawi and Zimbabwe, but this was its first in South America.

Rorvik was participating in the meeting of 38 poetry festival directors, which resulted in the establishment of the World Poetry Movement. The Movement aims to strengthen cooperation between festivals and provide a collective voice for poets and poetry organisations worldwide. A Facebook page has already been set up to act as a broad forum. Film clips from the Medellin International Poetry Festival are available on YouTube.