Poetry Africa Featured Poets

2023
EUGENE SKEEF
Eugene Skeef

EUGENE SKEEF is a South African percussionist, composer, poet, educationalist and animateur who has lived in London since 1980. He also works in conflict resolution, acts as a consultant on cultural development, teaches creative leadership and is a broadcaster. As a young activist he worked alongside the anti-apartheid leader Steve Biko and co-led a nation-wide literacy campaign teaching in schools, colleges, and communities across South Africa. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts and has served on the board of directors of the London Philharmonic Orchestra (LPO). He is on the advisory committee of Sound Junction, the Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music’s award-winning interactive multimedia educational project. In March 2005 Eugene performed with his Abantu Ensemble at Buckingham Palace and was presented to the Queen as part of the historic Music Day to celebrate the diversity of culture in Britain. In June 2008 Eugene and Richard Bissill’s, Excite! an orchestral commission by the LPO, premiered at the Royal Festival Hall at Southbank Centre, London. Eugene is the Artistic Director of Quartet of Peace which uses music to bring about peaceful resolutions to conflict and poverty, with a special focus on young people. In 2010 his collaborative project The Battle Of The Wordsmiths, with writer Tunde Olatunji and producers Blue Hippo Media, was shortlisted for the PRS New Music Award.

2022
DIANA FERRUS

DIANA FERRUS is a writer, poet, storyteller and a creative writing workshop facilitator. Her work was published in various collections, and some serve as prescribed texts for high school learners. She visits different schools as part of the Stellenbosch University WOW project that speaks to learners about their prescribed poems. Diana also works with the Macassar Studio Light project to instil pride in its community of who they are and how Macassar was built and their role in it. Furthermore, she works with a group of women in Stellenbosch who are writing up their stories. She is also closely working with the Pniel poets who participated for the first time in the Adam Small literary festival in February 2020,  the Railtoun Foundation in Swellendam, where she presents creative writing workshops and with the Centre for the Book who has graciously helped as part of their community publishing project, to publish the first collection of poetry by Die Mengelmoes, a grassroots women writers group lead by Diana.

2021
SIPHOKAZI JONAS

SIPHOKAZI JONAS is a storyteller, and ordinary lives fuel her work in poetry and theatre that has been featured at numerous poetry sessions and festivals around the country. Her experience of growing up in Komani, in the Eastern Cape, during the transition years of South Africa’s democracy, has an ongoing influence on her stories. Her work engages questions of faith, identity, gender-based violence, cultural and linguistic alienation, black women in rural spaces, and the politics of everyday lives.

She also produced four one-woman poetry shows in Cape Town and Johannesburg. Her most recent stage production, #wearedyinghere, was performed at Artscape Theatre and Joburg Theatre to positive reception. The production was adapted into a short film and has been screened at numerous international film festivals and will also screen during the Poetry Africa Festival.

2020
LEBOGANG MASHILE
LEBO MASHILE

An award-winning poet, author, presenter, actress, and producer, LEBO MASHILE is a South African household name who is most recognizable for her lyrical and gutsy poetry which has captivated audiences in 28 countries over the last two decades. Venus vs Modernity: The Life of Saartjie Baartman was her first foray into penning a full-length theatrical production and has been performed to sell-out audiences in Johannesburg and Amsterdam. Mashile has previously acted in the Academy-award nominated film Hotel Rwanda, the stage adaptation of K. Sello Duiker’s The Quiet Violence of Dreams, as well as Ngyidansa, the stage adaptation of Pamela Nomvete’s autobiography by the same name. She has collaborated with renowned choreographer and founder of Moving into Dance Mophathong, Sylvia Glasser, on Threads, a fusion of contemporary dance and poetry. Mashile won the NOMA Award for Publishing in Africa in 2006 for her premier collection In A Ribbon of Rhythm (Oshun) which was also published in German by Wunderhorn. In 2008 she released her second book of poetry, Flying Above the Sky. Her writing has been referenced in academic journals, has appeared in literary journals as well as mainstream publications, and is taught in high schools and tertiary institutions across South Africa. As a recording artist, she has two studio albums under her belt, Lebo Mashile Live! (2006) and Moya (2017).