International Poetry And Music Virtual Event To Be Hosted At The Joburg Theatre

Tracing a trail through the ages casts it plain in sight that poetry has always been an instrument to communicate messages of urgency, activism, celebration, hope and healing. This warrants as testimony to the undisputable noteworthiness of this art-form. Regardless of its many feats and proven significance, poetry remains an unorthodox, unapplauded craft, though the handful that still swear by it continue to receive from it. When coupled with music, poetry can concoct a cathartic healing sage.

Through the upcoming Long Night of the Poets, this sage has been cast off the poets’ page and onto the Lesedi stage at the Joburg Theatre and various locations across the world from Cape Town to Palestine, Jamaica to Algeria, New York City, Nigeria, Zimbabwe and India; through a live recording. The programme is part of the extended Africa Month colloquia with a focus on the youth, featuring several renowned and emerging voices. Presented by the Department of Sports, Arts and Culture in tandem with the curatorship of Afro Arts SA, this international poetry and music virtual celebration aims to use the voices of the artists, mainly poets, to speak to the pressing matters of our times.

The heavy lineup will boast some of South Africa’s most esteemed names in the poetry space, including Diana Ferrus, Afeefa Omar, Makhafula Vilakazi, Hope Netshivhambe, Frank Meintjies, Sabelo Soko and Michael Weeder, among other gifted SA poets. The star-studded night will also be graced by the lauded prowess of the renowned Jamaican poet, Mutabaruka, acclaimed Indian poet and activist, Meena Kandasamy along with the pen-genius of celebrated Asian-American actor and poet, Beau Sia as well as the unapologetic voices that carry like adeptness; those of poets like Nigerian Ajoke Bodunde and Tade Ipadeola, along with Algerian Samira Negrouche and Palestinian Ali Mawassi.

The array of poetic acts will be accompanied by wildly talented musicians, including the likes of Nigerian saxophonist Femik Koya, Zimbabwean singer and mbira player, Hope Masike, SA string quartet Kamva as well as the soulful vocalist Bobo Jay Nzima. The celebration will unfold on Friday the 9th of July from 8pm live on joburglive.tv and afroarts.co.za. It will also be broadcast via Facebook on the following platforms; @africanwomenwritersnetwork, @joburgtheatre and @CurrentStateofPoetry.

Curator Roshnie Moonsamy of Afro Arts SA and project coordinator Lehlohonolo Masina who is the operations manager at Current State of Poetry both expressed their desire for the show to become a platform that will drive poetry to more audiences and ripple to the appreciation of the work that poets do. In selecting the acts to be featured on the lineup they considered multiple factors, these included the poets’ activeness in the poetry space, regardless of the innumerable challenges that living during the COVID-19 pandemic has brought.

When speaking about the fusing of poetry with music, Moonsamy shared, “Music and poetry have always had a symbiotic relationship, the melody in the words and the words in the melody, both spoken and unspoken. The beauty of our artists and their poetry is that they sound good on paper and on stage with the music.”

The event will be a platform for expression to the poets whose work touches on various topics such as gender-based violence, politics, social injustice and current affairs, among other subjects. Audiences can anticipate an evening studded with offerings prepared by the artists, including some new collaborations between the poets and the musicians.

More information about the event can be found on afroarts.co.za or on Facebook; @africanwomenwritersnetwork, @joburgtheatre and @CurrentStateofPoetry

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