September 29 marks the second anniversary of 100 000 Poets for Change, a global event initiated by US poets Michael Rothenberg and Terri Carrion last year, which draws poets, artists and musicians together on a single day to simultaneously call for environmental, cultural, social and political change.
This year there will be about 700 events throughout the world, including in Johannesburg, Cape Town, Durban and Bloemfontein.
The Johannesburg event is being held under the auspices of the Melville Poetry Festival at Picobella restaurant, Melville. The excellent line-up of poets comprises Gary Cummiskey, Arja Salafranca, Michelle McGrane, Gerard Rudolf, Hans Pienaar, Corné Coetzee, Rene Bohnen, Phillippa Yaa de Villiers, David Chislett, Alan Finlay and Khulile Nxumalo.
Pienaar’s new Afrikaans novel, Chaos, of Op Soek Na Superman (Chaos, or in search of Superman) will also be launched at the event.
By using readings, concerts and workshops, communities throughout the world can address issues such as censorship, abuse of power, social inequality, racism and poverty, according to Rothenberg.
“With 100 000 Poets for Change we aim to seize and redirect the political and social dialogue of the day and turn the narrative of civilization towards peace and sustainability,” he says.
Pienaar, who is the chairman of the Melville Poetry Festival which will run from 12 – 14 October, says a consensus is fast developing across the world that things cannot continue as they are, no matter what one’s ideological orientation might be. And while the call for change may be vague, this is probably fitting since part of the problem is that world leaders and experts are at a loss what to do about the world’s ills.
What poetry can do is also not clear, except that it is the art form that serves one best when you tread out into an unknown world, or one without any clear answers or signposts. In South Africa recent events have perhaps finally shown that the “New South Africa” is over, and that the rainbow nation is a myth, and that we need to relook and re-examine most aspects of our society.
Certain themes from 100 000 Poets For Change will be carried over to the Melville Poetry Festival, where some of the events will focus on the need for resistance, while others will celebrate the fact that simply to produce good poetry is already an act of bringing change to the world.
A micro-blog to promote and celebrate the Johannesburg event is being developed on the 100 000 Poets for Change site here
100 000 Poets for Change – Johannesburg will be held at Picobella restaurant, No 66, 4th Avenue, Melville, on September 29, from 4pm to 7pm. Pienaar’s new book, as well as titles by the various poets, will be on sale.