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Local spoken word artists share the stage with international acts

Aspiring poets, writers, musicians and spoken word fanatics recently got a treat for their ears at a poetry exchange headed by internationally renowned stars, Vuyelwa Maluleka and Myroslav Laiuk on Thursday.

The event formed part of the University of KwaZulu-Natal’s (UKZN) Centre for Creative Arts annual Poetry Africa festival. The festival ran from the 15th to the 20th of October and featured a host of more than 20 local and international poets.

This year, it celebrated its 22nd anniversary with praise poetry as the main theme. The week long programme featured book launches, readings, performances and daily exchanges headed by an array of artists.

Maluleka and Laiuk are just two of the many performers that played hosts at the exchanges with the public during this internationally recognised festival. They both took turns to introduce attendees who were in the dark, to the art medium. Thereafter they both entertained with excerpts from their own writing.

Johannesburg born Maluleka, who describes herself as storyteller, read a number of her “feminist-style” written work as she detailed her journey all the way back from her young adulthood up to now.

She spoke at length about the art medium as a vessel for her feelings, discovery, and an archive for the stories she collects through her travels and interactions with countless people.

Laiuk was no different. Also an established author, the Ukrainian national took the audience through some of his work in his native tongue. Through this, he highlighted the need for spoken medium artists to make use of and praise their native languages in their work.

Feeling inspired, the attendees were given an opportunity to share their stories, their music and written work. As they began to share, Maluleka and Laiuk engaged with the attendees on their writing styles and deliveries – thereafter giving individual comment and feedback.

Musician, Sabelo Mathonsi, who was one of the attendees at the event was quite impressed by this aspect.

“I was first wary of sharing my work but I eventually got into it. It was a good space. I’m glad that artists as established as Maluleka and Laiuk were able to engage with us on our work. It helps a lot,” he said.

Mathonsi went on to herald the event organisers for having such an interactive and diverse line-up of activities and artists during the festival, all across Durban.

Amongst some of the artists highlighted and given a platform during the festival were celebrated South African poets Lebo Mashile, South African actress Dr Gcina Mhlophe, and King Goodwill Zwelithini’s very own praise singer BM Mdletshe.

Amongst the international acts were Canadian arts organiser and author Tanya Evanson, Palestinian human rights activist Rafeef Ziadah, and Belgium performer Philip Meersman to name a few.

To learn more about Poetry Arica, follow their social media accounts on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram: @poetryafrica

~ Thabisile Ngeleka

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