UWC Creates Presents Incredible Poetry Hour
On the 5th of May UWC Creates hosted a lunch time poetry hour in the library auditorium. Taking part in the event were both local and world class international poets who introduced their amazing works to the large number of students, poets and other academics gathered.
The event was presented by Dr Meg van der Merwe, a lecturer in the English department and UWC Creates coordinator, and Madoda Gcwadi, a Creative Writing Masters Student, and was organised by Prof Antjie Krog who is the Afrikaans co-ordinator for the UWC Creates Programme.
Many poets chose to present in their mother tongue, making the experience unique. The student poets blew the audience away with their talent. Bonke Xakatha powerfully read two isiXhosa poems that had become classics within Xhosa literature: the first by St. J. Page Yako about the losing of land, and the second one by L.M.S. Ngcwabe about death. Xakatha incorporated the sound of traditional instruments, leaving the audience in complete awe. Education student Rigala read two poems in isiXhosa, one of them a very personal poem about a strained relationship with a father. UWC Education Doctorate Student and author, Jolyn Philips, also read gripping poems in Afrikaans about dysfunctional relationships in our communities.
Headliner poets involved in the day’s events included Nigerian poet Efe Paul Azino who read English written poems about the adversities experienced on the streets of his home country. Efe has said that he is “always interested in how well his poetry travels” and has found that his poems are relevant in this country that is also experiencing economic and social upheaval. The poems he chose to read at the event are ones that express issues with a sense of urgency for all Africans.
From Syria, Arabic poet Maram Al-Massri presented her empowering poetry which breaks with traditional poetry style. One of her poems was translated into English along with a beautiful video that Maram directed and starred in. Of her trip to South Africa, Maram said that it was a great privilege to be here. With the country of her birth going through a time of strife, many in Syria look to South Africa as a symbol of hope, having, as a country, overcome apartheid. Maram, who now calls France home, said of Syria, “We need a Mandela.”
South African born poet and novelist Yvette Christianse, who now resides and teaches in America, also attended the event. Yvette became involved because of the opportunity to go to different universities and the opportunity to teach, which is of great importance to her. Of her work she had said that it is always in some way politically influenced, and the poems she chose to present “speak to the economic realities and pressures faced in today’s society” and to the history of slavery in this country.
The Poet Laureate of South Africa, Keorapetse Kgositsile, was another of the poets featured at the event. The South African born poet and activist was honoured at the event for his contribution to the arts by Bonke Xakatha, who read a poem, and Jolyn Phillips who serenaded the poet with a jazz song. This amazing poet says he has stubbornly decided not to have his work fit into any particular genre. His work has instead been a “response to what he has been affected by at the time of writing.”
Other poet’s involved in the event included Netherland poet H. C. ten Berge who read poems in Dutch, Dr Gilbert Gibson who read two moving poems in Afrikaans, and renowned South African poet, writer and publisher James Matthews.