School of Arts

Exciting Line-Up for UKZN’s Poetry Africa Festival

26th Poetry Africa International Festival runs from 6 to 16 October.
26th Poetry Africa International Festival runs from 6 to 16 October.

The Centre for Creative Arts (CCA) hosts the 26th Poetry Africa International Festival in Durban and Johannesburg from 6 to 16 October, with some of the sessions taking place virtually.

With the theme: Poetic (In)Justice: Voices That Breathe, Move and Transform, the festival is an ode to the depth of perspective that poetry allows in seeing and articulating (in)justice.

In partnership with the University of Johannesburg’s (UJ) Arts & Culture Department, the CCA will hold a three-day (6 October to 8 October) live set taking the festival ‘on tour’ to Johannesburg for the first time.

‘We hope that this instalment of the festival will afford poets, who are doing the unsung labour of nurturing poetic practices and reach in their respective locales, the opportunity to plug into the thriving and enabling ecosystem that has formed around this unprecedented platform for poetry on the continent,’ said Art Coordinator at the University of Johannesburg Mr Quaz Roodt,

Diana Ferrus will deliver the keynote address during the online event titled: We’re Not Ghosting You, on 10 October at 3pm, while the winner of the Poetry Africa Slam Jam 2021, Xabiso Vili will appear in Johannesburg, Durban and during the online sessions.

‘Diana Ferrus and Xabiso Vili facilitated workshops at poetry residency for Poetry Africa in Riebeeck Valley. Their passion, commitment and ability to engage with audiences across all demographics make them ideal candidates for this recognition,’ said CCA Director, Dr Ismail Mahomed.

Among the line-up of poets from South Africa during the Durban segment of the festival from 10-16 October are Lebo Mashile, Phillippa Yaa De Villiers and Siphokazi Jonas. From the rest of the world are Paul Gausch (Catalan), Nachla Libre (Sweden), Lydol (Cameroon) and Philip Meersman (Belgium).

During a Local is Lekker event, the festival will spotlight established and upcoming Durban-based poets such as Smart Black Mampondo, Thando Fuze, Luleka Mhlanzi, Mazwi Shazi, Nqobile Gcaba and Sanele Mhlongo.

Poetry Africa also hosts an extensive outreach programme at a variety of schools and five community venues: Luthuli Museum in Groutville, Denis Hurley Centre in Durban Central, K-Cap Ekhaya Arts Centre in KwaMashu, Ubuntu Arts in Umgeni Municipality and Wushwini Arts Centre in Inanda.

Many of the performers in the community and main programmes are emerging poets who are being given an opportunity to share the stage with established poets.

The festival will honour the legacy of esteemed poets and present the learnings and visions of poets who have passed on.

The festival hosts three lectures: the Mazisi Kunene lecture at UKZN, the Keorapetse Kgositsile lecture at the University of Johannesburg and the Mafika Gwala lecture (UKZN) held online.

The festival will close with a Poetry Picnic in the Park on 16 October at Botanical Gardens in Durban from noon. The event is free, and many of the poets participating in the festival throughout the week will perform

The entire programme is available on

The 26th Poetry Africa festival is made possible with the support of the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Sports, Arts and Culture; the South African Department of Sports, Arts and Culture; the French Institute of South Africa, Total Energies and the University of Johannesburg.

It takes place at a variety of venues and online.

To stay updated, follow @PoetryAfrica on Twitter and Instagram or like the festival on Facebook at

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