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27th Poetry Africa International Festival returns to Johannesburg

The University of Johannesburg Arts & Culture is proud to announce its role as the host of the Johannesburg leg of the highly anticipated 27th Poetry Africa International Festival. This esteemed festival, proudly presented by the Centre for Creative Arts at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, is set to make a triumphant return to the City of Gold.

In an exciting collaboration with UJ Arts & Culture, a division of the Faculty of Art, Design, and Architecture at the University of Johannesburg, this cultural event promises three days of poetic and artistic brilliance from 5-7 October 2023. The festival will bring together poets, artists, and cultural enthusiasts from near and far for an unforgettable celebration of creativity and expression.

“This event embodies the spirit of collaboration and cultural exchange, and we look forward to welcoming both local and international talent to our vibrant city, and we are honoured to partner with the Centre for Creative Arts to bring the Poetry Africa International Festival to Johannesburg,” said Pieter Jacobs head of UJ Arts & Culture.

Poetry Africa has a rich history of showcasing the diverse voices of poets and artists from across the globe. The festival’s return to Johannesburg promises to be a highlight on the cultural calendar, offering audiences an opportunity to engage with the power of words and the beauty of artistic expression.


Keorapetse Kgositsile Memorial Lecture :: 5 OCT

The festival commences on 5 October at the Keorapetse William Kgositsile Theatre, a significant partnership between UJ Arts & Culture and Johannesburg Institute for Advanced Study (JIAS). The highlight of this evening is the 2nd Keorapetse Kgositsile Lecture, featuring Professor Muxe Nkondo as the primary speaker. South African Poet Laureate Wally Serote, Lebo Mashile, and Phillippa Yaa de Villiers will serve as respondents. Following this, the stage will come alive with poetry performances by four JIAS resident poets: Keith Lewis, Noluthando Buthelezi, Chioniso Tsikisayi, and Ọbáfẹ́mi Thanni.

21st Poetry Africa Slam Semi Final :: 6 OCT

On 6 October, the University of Johannesburg will host the 21st Poetry Africa Slam Poetry Competition for the second consecutive year. Ten semi-finalists, selected from a nationwide competition, will compete for a chance to secure one of five coveted spots in the final round. The ultimate winner will receive a cumulative prize of R20,000 and travel expenses to participate in the World Slam Competition in 2024. This word-snapping, rhythm-rousing competition will take place at the Keorapetse Kgositsile Theatre within the UJ Arts Centre.

An International Poetry Extravaganza :: 7 OCT

The Johannesburg leg of the festival will conclude with a captivating lineup of international poets. Global sensation Rudi Francisco will share the stage with South Africa’s own Steel the Poet, Sarah Lubala representing the Democratic Republic of Congo, Aminata Bamba from Ivory Coast, Raphael d’Abdon blending Italian and South African influences, and Samantha Harris from South Africa, offering a diverse and talented ensemble that promises to leave audiences spellbound.

The Keorapetse Kgositsile Memorial Lecture is FREE to attend – RSVP Here –

Tickets are now available at R60 for students and R80 general admission. Get yours now. Click here to book –

About Poetry Africa

Poetry Africa is an annual international poetry festival curated and presented by the Centre for Creative Arts at the University of Kwazulu-Natal in Durban each year during October. The festival features Spoken Word & Publish Poets in performances and dynamic engagements which includes panel discussions, campus and school visits, poetry exchanges, book launches, open mic sessions and the ever-popular slam jam competition. The 27th edition of the Poetry Africa festival will extend performances to Johannesburg and Bloemfontein.

The festival provides a vital platform for the celebration and critical reflection about the contribution of poets in the movement for social change both nationally and internationally. At the University of KwaZulu-Natal the Poetry Africa festival supports academic scholarship in contemporary poetry. The Poetry Africa festival is also a dynamic player in the cultural economy of the broader Ethekwini; and plays a vital role in advancing the city’s status as a UNESCO City of Literature.

The theme for the 27th edition of Poetry Africa is VOTE4POETRY : MORE THAN WORDS. For centuries, the Praise Poet (Imbongi) has been a word-bearer of truth. Poetry Africa will celebrate contemporary poets whose voices offer new directions and inspiring leadership for contemporary issues nationally and internationally. Poetry Africa provides a platform for poets whose creativity inspires critical thinking, re-imagination and the reclaiming of a more optimistic future.

About Creative Arts at the University of KwaZulu-Natal

The Centre for the Creative Arts (CCA) is an inter-disciplinary hub in the School of the Arts in the College of Humanities at the University of KwaZulu-Natal. The Centre plays host to seven festivals which over many years have built a strong international profile for artistic excellence and for how the arts are engaged to advance social change and to strengthen South Africa’s constitutional democracy.

About UJ Arts & Culture  

UJ Arts & Culture, a division of the Faculty of Art, Design & Architecture (FADA) produces and presents world-class student and professional arts programmes aligned to the UJ vision of an international university of choice, anchored in Africa, dynamically shaping the future. A robust range of arts platforms are offered on all four UJ campuses for students, staff, alumni and the general public to experience and engage with emerging and established Pan-African and international artists drawn from the full spectrum of the arts.

In addition to UJ Arts & Culture, FADA offers programmes in eight creative disciplines in art, design, and architecture, as well as being home to the NRF SARChI Chair in South African Art and Visual Culture, and the Visual Identities in Art & Design Research Centre.


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