Wednesday 12 October 2011

Miss the rugby already? The Melville Poetry Festival Showcase kicks off this Saturday….

Date: Friday October 14th and Saturday October 15th 2011.
Venue: 7th Street, Melville, Johannesburg

The first Melville Poetry Festival Showcase is happening this Friday and Saturday, with an exciting line up of poets writing in all languages set to read and perform their work.

Over 30 poets will be gathering for the festival, with readings, panel discussions, exhibitions, book launches and music taking place at different venues in 7th Street and 4th Avenue. Poets participating include Angifi Dladla, Keorapetse Kgositsile, Robert Berold, Kobus Moolman, Arja Salafranca, Ike Muila, Uhuru Waga Phalafala, the Botsotso Jesters, Toast Coetzer, Loftus Marais, Charl-Pierre Naudé, Johann Lodewyk Marais and Rene Bohnen.

The festival kicks off on Friday 14th October at 9.30am at the old Koffie Huis in 4th Avenue with the Jozi Spoken Word poetry writing and performance workshop where poets young and old can hone their skills under the guidance of established poets and writing teachers. 

On Saturday book launches by Dye Hard Press and Deep South Publishing start the day, before the festival’s official opening at 1.30pm with Ron Smerczak, Yoliswa Mogale, and the Botsotso Jesters. In a creative collaboration entitled ‘Digkyk/Eyepoems’, Naudé, Peter Fincham and Hans Pienaar will mount an exhibition of images integrated with poetry, while a theatre projection called ‘Angels and Stones’ will be narrated by Lionel Murcott. 

Panel discussions include a talk on the influence of Wopko Jensma (‘The Ghost of Wopko Jensma’) and one called ‘Into Poetry: How to Get Young People to Enjoy Wordplay’, facilitated by Pamela Nichols from the Wits Writing Centre. 

Readings and exhibitions carry on throughout the afternoon, with the day wrapping up with a music festival (Andries Bezuidenhout , Planet Lindela Jazz Trio, Riku Latti & Les Javen, and Lithal Li) which will also be used to showcase up-and-coming slam poets. 

“The festival offers a great opportunity to listen and engage with South African poets writing in all languages – and for poets to meet and talk to each other, which doesn’t always happen,” says Alan Finlay, a poet who will also be reading at the event. “I think the panel on Wopko Jensma raises a question about the spirit of South African poetry that’s worth exploring.” 



Allan Kolski-Horwitz, a Botsotso Jester who, together with the Wits Writing Centre, has run Jozi Spoken Word for several years, feels that the idea of intimate readings at cafés and shops in Melville is a unique one. "The blending of students and local residents with a wide range of poets should make for a very stimulating exchange," he says. 



"The plan is to hold a national festival next year, and then to grow it from there – and already several sponsors have shown an interest,” explains Eleanor Koning, one of the organisers of the festival. “That’s why we’re calling this festival a ‘showcase’ – we want to build on it in the future, inviting more poets from around the country and even internationally to take part.” 

“We also need to develop real public festivals – a festival where everyone is welcome and heard and we can together develop our new multicultural, multi-faceted literature,” adds Nichols. “We hope the workshop on Friday will contribute to developing the new South African poetry and we believe that Melville with its bookshops and coffee shops and restaurants and wandering poets is the perfect place to incubate a new and creative literary culture.” 

Books will be on sale at the venues. Come support South African poetry, or just browse around, catching snippets of poems and song, while visiting the local book and coffee shops that line the streets. 

Entrance to all readings, panel discussions and the Friday poetry workshop is free. The slam event and music in the evening costs R15 for students and R30 for adults. To see the full programme for the event, visit The Melville Poetry Facebook Page.

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The Melville Poetry Festival Showcase is a collaboration between Marie-lais Edmond, Alan Finlay, Allan Kolski-Horwitz (Botsotso Publishing), Eleanor Koning (Melvilla Guest House), Pamela Nichols (Wits Writing Centre) and Hans Pienaar.

For more information on the festival, please speak to Eleanor Koning on 082 386 4688 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting            082 386 4688      end_of_the_skype_highlighting or e-mail her at eleanor@melvilla.co.za

To participate in the Jozi Spoken Word poetry workshop, please contact Pamela Nichols at Pamela.Nichols@wits.ac.za

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Featured artists, in order of appearance, include Gail Dendy, Robert Berold, Rosamund Stanford, Mxolsi Nyezwa, Hans Pienaar, Charl-Pierre Naudé, Peter Fincham, Ron Smerczak, Leti Kleyn, Gary Cummiskey, Michael Gardiner, Uhuru waga Phalafala, Vuyo Seripe, Angifi Dladla, Elza Botha, Botsotso Jesters, Farouk Asvat, Yoliswa Mogale, Lionel Murcott, Peter Horn, Ahmed Patel, Frank Meintjies, Mike Alfred, Toast Coetzer, Andries Bezuidenhout, Corne Cotzee, Alan Finlay, Arja Salafranca, Kobus Moolman, Bernat Kruger, Khulile Nxumalo, Johann Lodewyk Marais, Heidi Marais, Rene Bohnen, Loftus Marais, Itumeleng Magope, Chistophe Van Staden, Ellipsis, Rennie Alexander, Rantoloko, Mak Manaka, Thando, Sebilo, Emmah, Flo, Quaz and the bands Planet Lindela Jazz Trio and Lethal Lee. For the full programme see the Melville Poetry Festival facebook page. 

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