The Centre for Creative Arts (CCA) within UKZN’s College of Humanities recently hosted its Prelude Poets auditions for Poetry Africa 2017 in Durban.

Emerging poets gave of their best in a competition that was tough and very real.

Judges Ms Onke Mtshali, Mr Mcebisi Sithole, Mr Menzi Mhlongo, Ms Lungile Ngubelanga and Ms Sinethemba Makrwalana welcomed contestants, taking care to explain the day’s proceedings. Outside the audition venue facilitator Mr Thabiso Zwane managed the crowd which helped smooth proceedings.

Aspirant participants each had a five minute time slot. Those who rose to the challenge adopted styles from various genres – slam poetry, praise poetry and even performance poetry – and also made use of different languages.

Contestant Ms Zodwa Hlongwa of Pietermaritzburg said she wanted to be in Poetry Africa because she believed it was the biggest platform for her. ‘I want to showcase my poetry because I think I have something that is a bit different.’

Ms Naledi Mfukeng of Underberg added: ‘I want to inspire other people and change lives through the words that I write in my poetry.’

The 21st edition of Poetry Africa, which is searching for four representatives from Durban, gives poets an opportunity to showcase their talent at one of the country’s premier poetry festivals. In the past a number of performers have been exposed to global audiences through the event.

Drawing musicians and poets from the African continent and beyond, the Festival takes place from 16-21 October and is made possible through sponsorship from the eThekwini Municipality, the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Arts and Culture, and Alliance Française de Durban, Institut Ramon lull, Ukrainian Association of South Africa.

Words and photograph: Ziphezinhle Silindile Biyela