UJ Izimbongi Poetry Festival takes poetry to new heights

From 23-26 October UJ Arts & Culture (a division of the Faculty of Art, Design and Architecture) revels in the power of poetry with the annual IzimbongiPoetry Festival taking place at the UJ Con Cowan Theatre on the Bunting Road campus.

While Izimbongi means “the people who perform praise poetry”, the festival itself is truly an act of praising poetry and gives students and members of the public an opportunity to be inspired by the wide breadth of expression poetry offers, as well as a chance to engage with the UJ Arts Academy rising young stars and renowned poets and performers.

First on the bill is SHHH! A newly minted cutting-edge musical developed by Yogin Sullaphen, Tshego Khutsoane and Jade Bowers with the UJ Arts Academy Students, SHHH! fuses hip hop, soul, trap and poetry. This proudly South African development performance of this musical brings to stage a story of the secrets that should be told in a collection of urban micro-stories delving into the transitional spaces of adulthood.

Take in this show on 23 October at 20:00. Tickets are R30.

What is home? A puzzle, a question, a song? On 24 October at 18:00 the UJ Arts Academy Poetry students take audiences on a journey home and into their homes with “Home is…”

Directed by Quaz Roodt, “Home is… “is a poetry stage play written and performed by currently registered UJ Arts and Culture poetry students. The play explores, through poetry and movement, the myriad forms in which the idea of “home” manifests. Home is… invites poetry lovers into the homes of the poets, to share their experiences, hold them through the dark, dance to the music of family and unlock new rooms full of hope.

Catch the play on 24 October at 18:00. Tickets are R30.

On the evening of the 25 October at 17:00 words will take flight with the Izimbongi flagship programme When words dance – An evening of Poetry. Six professional Johannesburg-based poetry acts who have captured the imagination of audiences across the country will bring their finely crafted voices to the UJ Con Cowan stage.

“The professional poets on the bill are a representation of the myriad of voices that have claimed poetry as their medium, much like the students. Each professional poet brings with them a wealth of experience and most importantly a respect for their craft that should serve as an example to any aspiring poet,” says Mzwandile Maphumulo, Doornfontein UJ Arts & Culture Officer and Izimbongi project manager.

Hosted by UJ Can You? Slam Winner and Poetry Africa Slam champion Keitumetse Tlhako, the Izimbongi Poetry Festival proudly welcomes Puns and Things (Kabelo Ringane and Donald Mokgale) a poetry duo with a combined experience of over 15 years in performance poetry. Belita Andre, a phenomenal performer and co-author of the recently launched poetry colouring book Colour me Melanin is also on the bill. Sibulelo Manamatel, poet and co-writer of the award-winning poetic short film Aftertaste and Nomashenge Dlamini, the multitalented poet and vocalist and slam champion will also have their moments in the spotlight. The Izimbongi Poetry Festival is delighted to have UJ Poetry programme alumni and published author of two books, Hazel Tobo, return to the festival stage.

This evening promises to question, invade, entertain, heal and most of all make words dance.

Catch this show on 25 October at 17:00. Tickets are R30.

Closing the festival is KPN’s “The Elite Wing of Poetry” (TEWOP) Slam. TEWOP is an initiative that calls for excellence in all spheres of the poetry scene. The first TEWOP Slam of this year will see 12 individual poets battle through three rigorous rounds. Only one of them will claim the coveted title of number one and will walk away with R3000 in cash.

Kiri Pink Nob (KPN) co-owner, Jefferson Tshabalala, has been an active role player in poetry circles for years. He has witnessed talented poets speak up and stand out only to fade away due to lack of structure and format. Tired of standing by the wayside, he implemented TEWOP a movement that will showcase poets who are serious about their craft and reward their efforts with publicity and money.

“We must not tolerate (poetry) performances that insult paying audiences by not being refined enough for public presentation. Rehearse. Rehearse. Rehearse. And did I mention, Rehearse,” says Tshabalala.

Watch them battle it out on 26 October at 17:00. Tickets are R100 online & R150 at the door.

For more information and to book your tickets go to www.uj.ac/arts


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 (www.uj.ac.za/fada) offers programmes in eight creative disciplines, in Art, Design and Architecture, as well as playing home to the NRF SARChI Chair in South African Art & Visual Culture, and the Visual Identities in Art & Design Research Centre. The Faculty has a strong focus on sustainability and relevance, and engages actively with the dynamism, creativity and diversity of Johannesburg in imagining new approaches to art and design education.