Since 1996

About the Festival

Poetry Africa is an annual international poetry festival curated and presented by the Centre for Creative Arts at the University of Kwazulu-Natal in Durban each year during October. The festival features Spoken Word & Publish Poets in performances and dynamic engagements which includes panel discussions, campus and school visits, poetry exchanges, book launches, open mic sessions and the ever popular slam jam competition. The 27th edition of the Poetry Africa festival will extend performances to Johannesburg and Bloemfontein.

The festival provides a vital platform for the celebration and critical reflection about the contribution of poets in the movement for social change both nationally and internationally. At the University of KwaZulu-Natal the Poetry Africa festival supports academic scholarship in contemporary poetry. The Poetry Africa festival is also a dynamic player in the cultural economy of the broader Ethekwini; and plays a vital role in advancing the city’s status as a UNESCO City of Literature. 

The theme for the 27th edition of Poetry Africa is VOTE4POETRY: MORE THAN WORDS. for centuries, the Praise Poet (Imbongi) has been a word-bearer of truth. Poetry Africa will celebrate contemporary poets whose voices offer new directions and inspiring leadership for contemporary issues nationally and internationally. Poetry Africa provides a platform for poets whose creativity inspires critical thinking, re-imagination and the reclaiming of a more optimistic future.

Featured Poets

Each year Poetry Africa honours a leading South African poet who stands stand as a beacon to uphold South Africa’s Constitutional Democracy and whose voice is a reminder about the values in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights

Poetry Africa is a member of the World Slam Poetry Organisation.

Xabiso Vili

Poetry Africa Slam Champion (2021)

World Slam Poet Champion (2022)

Kwanele Gumbi

Kwanele Nyembe

Poetry Africa Slam Champion (2022)

World Slam Poetry Championships (2023)

Commissioned Video Projects

The Poetics of Transformation


The short documentary film made from the video archives of Poetry Africa combines animated illustrations, a call-and-response soundscape and photography. It seeks to explore poetry’s conscientising capacity within the broader ecology of social justice. The film seeks to harness how poetry can be linked to a universal cry for more justice: political, social, and economic by looking at how Poetry Africa performances spoke back to the underlying dynamics of global #hashtag movements.  We hope that the film will introduce emerging poets to the positioning of their artistic practice that allows them to become integral to the realisation of social justice. Our second hope is that this inspires other creatives to experiment with making content from our rich and underused arts archives.

No One’s Enemy, No One’s Victim


Produced for National Women’s Day (2022) the project features Khanyih Shusha, Natalia Molebatsi, Lebogang Mashile, Nomakhwezi Becker, Mthunzikazi Mbungwana, Lulwandle Sindiswa Zulu, Malika Ndlovu and Nokugcina Mhlophe

No One’s Enemy, No One’s Victim recorded during the National Lockdown to combat the Covid-19 pandemic honours the resilience of South African women — their historic fight against apartheid and their continuous courage to stand up for social justice for all.


Poetry Africa publications can be ordered directly from the Centre for Creative Arts. Publications cost R150 including postage (South Africa) and R250 (outside of South African borders) including postage. To order publications please write to cca@ukzn.ac.za for further details.

Rage, Revolution & Rupture


This anthology is a collection of voices speaking out about their rage and their rapture. The poets lament about the failed state, violence, poverty and corruption but they also tell of the peace they find in their faith, the comfort that comes from family and the joy (and heartbreak) of love. These are the voices of our time, and as they claim their right to speak with such eloquence, we must do more than just listen.

Hashtag Poetry


The hashtag has become the loudhailer of the 21st century. Its ability to gather voices and often bodies into a space of unified action for a cause or against injustice is unprecedented. Local causes become global movements; individual deaths galvanise multiple voices and the clarion call travels at the speed of the fastest data connection.  This collection is a reminder that poets and wordsmiths may seed social justice in hashtags and slogans but it is all of us who are called to reap the harvest in action and with deeds.  First run edition SOLD OUT.