Botswana to host poetry festival


The annual Sadc Poetry Festival 2010, organised by Artsinitiates-Southern Africa, will be held in Gaborone, Botswana from August 27 to 29.
This year’s theme will be My Voice, Your Hand while the festival, which is funded by Prince Claus Fund, will explore poetry-art or Ekphrastic poetry.
Artsinitiates Southern Africa’s network partners, Kese Ditsabatho and Tebogo Makgatla who attended the inaugural event in Windhoek last year, are organising the festival together with Shaun Chitsiga of Extrapillar Event Management who is known locally for his 2005 hit Amasiko.
Poetry-art is where poets and visual artists work together either basing each other’s art work on poetry or a piece of visual art.
Director and founder of Artsinitiates-Southern Africa, Zimbabwean journalist and author Wonder Guchu said they chose Botswana because it is the seat of the Sadc secretariat.
“We launched the festival in Windhoek, Namibia last year because of the links the city has to the region. Windhoek is the Sadc seat of the regional tribunal as well as the regional parliamentary forum.
“Likewise, Gaborone has the same links and it would be appropriate for the festival to be held there this year,” Guchu, who is based in Windhoek, said this week.
“We have University of Zimbabwe lecturer and writer Memory Chirere, poet Phinda Mkhonta of Swaziland as well as Moffat Moyo of Zambia as part of the scouting and organising team,” Guchu explained.
He said this year’s theme and approach is meant to broaden both poets and visual artists’ understanding of the relationship between art codes.
“Artists should understand that art codes interlink and that inspiration can either come from a visual art piece or poetry. Through the festival, a culture of co-relationship will be fostered,” Guchu said.
He said although poetry-art is not popular, renowned poets among them Jalaluddin Rumi who lived between 1207 and 1273 as well as William Blake are some of those known to have focused on it.
“One good example,” Guchu said, “is Blake’s 1794 poem titled The Tyger where both text and a visual artwork of a tiger are presented on the same pad while numerous Persian carpets carry artworks derived from Rumi’s poetry.”
The festival will feature a workshop where experts in visual arts and poetry will work with participants and a session where visual artists will work with poets in a creative process.
Other major sessions of the festival will be in poetry performance, reading, poetry in African languages and performing own poetry.