Poetry Africa 2021, the annual poetry bonanza presented by the Centre for Creative Arts at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, South Africa, runs from October 11-16, 2021.  

Poetry Africa is an international poetry festival first hosted by the Centre for Creative Arts at the University of KwaZulu-Natal in Durban, South Africa in 1996. Since then, it has hosted some of the biggest names in poetry like Werewere Liking, Chris Abani, Didier Awadi, Gabeba Baderoon, Dennis Brutus, Kwame Dawes, Stanley Onjezani Kenani, Gcina Mhlophe, Lesego Rampolokeng, and Benjamin Zephaniah.

The 2021 edition is made possible by support from the Embassy of France, the French Institute of South Africa (IFAS), Total Energies, National Institute for the Humanities and Social Sciences, The Poetry Archive, Quay Word, Department of Arts and Culture, Hear My Voice, The Playhouse, and the University of KwaZulu-Natal.  

With the theme: Unmute: Power to the Poet, the festival aims for the audience to remain inspired by the voices of our poets. The audiences can expect to be mesmerized by their voices and messages that are like vaccines that cautiously brings us back into the light of the darkness and the new dawn.

“Our 25th anniversary is a significant milestone. It provides us with a vital opportunity to reflect and celebrate the festival’s legacy but it also allows us to critically reflect on our society and the movement for social change. We salute and honour all the poets who have walked this road with us and who over the last 25 years have given us the words to express feelings, share experiences, address issues of poverty, social injustice, struggles and survival. This year’s Festival recognises the power of the poet.” shares curator Siphindile Hlongwa.

As part of the 25th anniversary celebrations, the organisers are launching an anthology, a journal and a documentary during the festival. The anthology titled #Hashtag Poetry, is a collection that aims to remind the reader that poets and wordsmiths may seed social justice in hashtags and slogans, but it is all of us who are called to reap the harvest in action and with deeds. The journal, released in collaboration with Imbiza Journal, includes seasoned poets who appear alongside new dynamic voices. The essays, features, book reviews and poems make for an interesting and edifying read.

On the list of participants for this year’s edition are; Adrian B Earle, Africa Dlamini, Andriy Lyubka, Anthony Molosi, Athol Williams, Aziz Siten’K, Busisiwe Mahlangu, Canuto Roldán, Charly.W, Christine Yohannes, Danai Mupotsa, Gboyega Odubanjo, Gcina Mhlophe, Gubhela, Guy Buttery, Hazel Tobo, Hlox Rebel, Hope Netshivhambe, Jahrose Jafta, Khanyi Shusha, Khwezi Becker, Kissy Abeng, Kwazi Ndlangisa, Lakhiyia Hicks, Lebo Mashile, Lethokuhle Msimang, Lethu Nkwanyana, Makhafula Vilakazi, Malika Ndlovu, Margot Delaet, Maria Escriva, Mbali Malimela, Miriam Cano, Mjele Msimang, Musa Hawamdeh, Narcisse, Natalia Molebatsi, Natty Ogli, Nick Makoha, Ninfa Maria, Nolulamo Maquthu, Nomcebisi Moyikwa, Olumide Popoola, Ongezwa Mbele, Page Ngwenya, Pota, Rachel Long, Roger Robinson, Roi Bokon, Sarah Godsell, Shailja Patel, Sibongile Fisher, Sihle Ntuli, Sindiswa Zulu, Siphiwo Mahala, Siphokazi Jonas, Sithembiso ‘Sthe Khali’ Khalishwayo, Staceyann Chin, Stella Nyanzi, Tanya Pretorius, Tarik Ben Larbi, Thando Fuze, Toni Giselle Stuart,  Torsten Clear Rybka, Tracey Saunders, Vangile Gantsho, Victoria Adukwei Bulley, Wamuwi Mbao, Weronika Lewondowska, and Xabiso Vili.

You can find the schedule for Poetry Africa by clicking here.