The University of KwaZulu-Natal’s Centre for Creative Arts (CCA), with principal funding from the City of Durban, recently held its auditions for Durban’s emerging poets to take part in the 20th Poetry Africa festival (October 10 to15) as Prelude Poets.
The programme, which started in 2011, gives the city’s poets the opportunity to showcase their work to audiences 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.
Poets who have previously showcased their talents as Prelude Poets include Nosipho Magcaba, Kwazi Dlangisa, Khanyi Shusha, Page Ngwenya, Tumelo Khoza and Tshebelotso Mohale. They have all since graduated to the next stage, as main feature poets in 2012, 2014 and 2015 respectively.
At the Preludes, the poets audition with performances including reading their work, performance poetry, slam poetry, musical items and praise poetry. Entrants were required to perform original pieces within a five-minute slot.
Some 49 entries were received this year, but only four made the cut to be a part of this year’s edition of Poetry Africa - namely, Khuselo Makhanya, Bright Luthuli, Langelihle Maniza Khuzwayo and Shashi Simelane.
Judging their work was Sakhile Gumede of the CCA, Mfundo Hlatshwayo, Lungile Ngubelanga and Mncedisi Ndabezitha. Gumede said: “Participants were asked to read from their own works and this was an advantage for them because they were able to prepare in advance for the auditions. They were also given the opportunity to perform in indigenous languages. As judges we looked at their stage appearance, personality and originality.”
His sentiments were echoed by his fellow panellists who also added that the process allowed the poets to engage in their body of work in the language of their choice.
“There is no doubt that this slot of the festival plays a crucial role in terms of growing and nurturing talent in our province as well as the country. We owe it to future generations to make sure that each year we at least continue to search for these shining poetic diamonds and bring them to the surface for the benefit of the entire art industry,” added Gumede.
Presented by the Centre for Creative Arts (University of KwaZulu-Natal), the 20th Poetry Africa is made possible by support from the eThekwini Municipality, KZN Department of Arts and Culture, Living Legends, The Goethe-Institut, Alliance Française de Durban, Mazisi Kunene Foundation Trust, and World Poetry Movement. The Centre for Creative Arts is housed in the School of Arts, College of Humanities at the University of KwaZulu-Natal.