The Centre for Creative Arts at the University of KwaZulu Natal is currently hosting the 25th Time of the Writer Festival. Monday 21 March, the last festival day, coincides with World Poetry Day, and the curators decided to pay homage to poetry.
The festival is the official host to the launch of the Right To Speak project in South Africa. The Right To Speak project is a partnership initiative headed by the Goethe Institute in South Africa; and brings together the French Institute of South Africa, the Representation of Flanders and the Wallonie Bruxelle to partner with the Poetry Africa Festival, Hear My Voice and the STAND Foundation to collaborate and present a series of hybrid events that use poetry as a vehicle for young people to critically engage with the concepts of human rights and their experiences in the world.
“We take pride in launching this dynamic programme at the Time of the Writer festival on 21 March, which marks South Africa’s Human Rights Day and UNESCO’s International Poetry Day”, said Siphindile Hlongwa, the curator of the Poetry Africa festival and a co-curator of the Time of the Writer Festival, “The Spoken Word poetry movement brings together poets of diverse backgrounds whose collective voices is a force for building a healthy democracy”, she added
The Centre for Creative Arts will launch the Right To Speak programme online and stream it from the Kwa Muhle Museum in Durban. The building was formerly one of the most despised structures in the city from where the basic human rights of African people were trampled on every single day. Formerly known as the Department of Native Affairs, the apartheid government enforced its laws that controlled the lives and movement of African people. Today, the building is a museum that honours the people’s struggle. It is also a site from where the Centre for Creative Arts has presented several Poetry Africa events in the past.
The launch of the Right to Speak programme will be followed by a series of other online poetry-themed events presented by the Time of the Writer Festival on World Poetry Day.
After two years of a hard national lockdown and with no live events presented by the Centre for Creative Arts during 2020 and in 2021, the 25th edition of Poetry Africa in October 2021 culminated with the Centre for Creative Arts making a small but cautious re-entry into the live performance space with the production Emfuleni at the Playhouse Theatre in Durban where the Centre for Creative Arts brought together a group of women poets “to meet at the river” and to commune with our live theatre spaces again.
Emfuleni features Khwezi Becker, Lebo Mashile, Siphokazi Jonas, Gcina Mhlope, Mbali Malimela, Siphokazi Jonas, Toni Giselle Stuart and Thando Fuze at the metaphorical river at the Playhouse Theatre. The event was presented by the Centre for Creative in partnership with the Playhouse Theatre, and it was funded by Total Energies and the French Institute of South Africa. The event was recorded and edited for the Time of the Writer festival by S’bo Cele and will be streamed on World Poetry Day.
Poetic Encounters features four of South Africa’s leading spoken words – Diana Ferrus, Lebo Mashile, Xabiso Villi and Thando Fuze – on a Poetic Encounter to the small town of Riebeek Valley to engage with the town’s poets in partnership with the Royal Arts Town Amphitheatre, the winner of the Poetry In Communities Award at the 25th edition of Poetry Africa in 2021.
A Poetics For Transformation is a short documentary film made from the festival video archives of Poetry Africa over the years, combined with animated illustrations, a call-and-response soundscape and photography. It explores poetry’s capacity to conscientize within the broader ecology of social justice. The credits for the documentary are S’bo Cele (Project Editor), Daniel Sheldon (Illustrator), Nhlanhla Mngadi (Sound Production) and Karen Ijumba (Researcher & Producer).
The Time of the Writer festival will officially close with a specially commissioned programme presented jointly by the Centre for Creative Arts and University Arts & Culture. Poetry Africa’s curator Siphindile Hlongwa and UJ Arts & Culture’s Quaz Roodt will present a programme that will feature Tanya Evanson (Canada), Tereska Muishond (SA), Elisangela Rita (Angola), Sara Garib (Sweden), Kwame Write (Ghana), Jeffrey Hartzenberg (SA), Sollly Ramatswi (SA), Komi Olaf (Canada), Belita Andrea (Namibia/Nigeria).
The Time of the Writer’s Literature Champion of the Year will be announced at the close of the programme.
The Time of the Writer festival is presented by the Centre for Creative Arts at the University of KwaZulu-Natal. The festival takes place from 14 – 21 March 2022. The festival can be viewed on www.facebook.com/timeofthewriter or www.youtube.com/centreforcreativearts