Poetry Africa 2023 festival dates announced

The 27th edition of the Poetry Africa Festival will take place in October in three cities: Durban, Johannesburg and Bloemfontein. The festival will kick off in Johannesburg on Thursday 5 October, then take its pride of place in Durban from 9 – 14 October and conclude in Bloemfontein on Tuesday 17 October 2023. Poetry Africa is presented by the Centre for Creative Arts at the University of KwaZulu-Natal.

The festival theme “VOTE4POETRY : MORE THAN WORDS” celebrates the crucial role that poets’ voices play to strengthen and advance the values of a constitutional democracy. The programme line-up   will showcase a diverse array of established, mid-career, and emerging spoken word poets taking part in performances, workshops, masterclasses, panel discussions and book launches. The full programme will be announced on Saturday 16 September 2023.

“For more than two decades Poetry Africa has retained its reputation as one of the most significant platforms for contemporary spoken word poetry. After our huge success in Durban and Johannesburg last year, the expansion to Bloemfontein was an inevitable progression”, says Poetry Africa’s curator, Siphindile Hlongwa.

In Johannesburg, Poetry Africa will be presented in partnership with the Arts & Culture Centre at the University of Johannesburg. In Bloemfontein, PACOFS will play host to Poetry Africa. The recently appointed artistic director of PACOFS, Napo Masheane, is an internationally celebrated poet who in her early years also cut her teeth at the Poetry Africa Festival in Durban.

“Napo Masheane is an alumnus of the Poetry Africa Festival, and she understands how the festival can unearth new talent and simultaneously create newer pathways for established poets. It is not surprising that she intends to make the City of Roses a place where poets can find a nurturing and welcoming space”, says Ismail Mahomed, the Director of the Centre for Creative Arts.     

Poetry Africa’s annual Slam Poetry Competition is one of the leading slam events on the African Continent. Poetry Africa’s 2021 champion Xabiso Vili participated in the World Poetry Slam Championships in Brussels and won the World Poetry Slam Championship. Kwanele Nyembe, the 2022 Poetry Africa Slam Champion, will compete for the title in Brazil later this year. 

Poetry Africa set a high bar at the World Slam Championship in 2022. We are confident that Kwanele Nyembe will follow in this same tradition”, says Siphindile Hlongwa who has championed the Poetry Africa brand both nationally and abroad. 
Poetry Africa is supported by the University of KwaZulu-Natal, the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Sports, Arts & Culture, the National Arts Council of South Africa, the French Institute of South Africa and Total Energies. The Poetry Africa festival, along with the Time of the Writer festival, both presented by the Centre for Creative Arts cement Durban’s title as a UNESCO City of Literature.