Welcome Note

On behalf of the University of KwaZulu-Natal and the Centre for Creative Arts, it is my enormous pleasure to offer the welcome note for this year’s annual POETRY AFRICA – our 23rd edition. At a time in South Africa’s history, where we sit within the confluence of decolonising our historical, political and cultural relations with the Euro/America axis, where we are being forced to re-negotiate our place within the African continent, and where continued and escalating gender-based violence consumes us, we embark – through this festival, and all of our CCA festival – on using this cultural and artistic space, as a place of memory and of speaking truth to power.

POETRY AFRICA 2019, offers a rare moment of bringing together dissident and challenging spoken word artists to celebrate a community of like-minded alternate thinkers who remind us all of the power of the pen and the word as weapons for change. We celebrate the sixteen poets who will be joining us and who will spend a busy 7 days in Durban in a series of readings, performances and a full range of workshops and forums, which engage a broad spectrum of community: from our own UKZN students, schools and KZN rural and urban communities. As Durban is also the UNESCO City of Literature, POETRY AFRICA 2019, continues its legacy of opening the doors of learning, culture and artistic expression to all.

For 2019, amongst a range of globally recognised poets, we are especially pleased to welcome a very strong African contingent – 80% of our poets are African. At a time in South Africa’s on-going and more recent shameful xenophobia attacks against foreign nationals  – fellow Africans – we specifically dedicate POETRY AFRICA 2019 to the on-going belief that our poetic voice – our words – and all our art, is the very fabric of healing and of shifting mind-sets. POETRY AFRICA 2019 heralds the start of a long-term relationship with Nigeria as we begin an extensive exchange programme that links poets from West and South Africa.

My gratitude and thanks – as always – to the dedicated staff of the CCA, for the hours of work put into making this beautiful festival happen, and specifically to Siphindile Hlongwa who has led the curatorial charge for POETRY AFRICA 2019.

Please join us in the many exciting forums and platforms that best suit you.

Open mind, open heart and the power of poetic words that open!

Dr. Lliane Loots

Acting Director: Centre for Creative Arts

University of KwaZulu-Natal

College of Humanities

School of the Arts

Durban, South Africa

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The Centre for Creative Arts (University of KwaZulu-Natal) gratefully acknowledges the funding and partnerships of the following organisations and institutions: