Poets to bring house down

Mwamba Chileshe. Photo: TC Maila.

The best poet or poetess in Pretoria will be announced this weekend after the Tshwane Speak Out Loud grand finale.

The spoken word competition has been running since last June and is open to Pretorian poets between the ages of 16 and 30 years.

Also read: Competition puts poets in the spotlight

The SA State Theatre’s Drama theatre is where the overall winner will be crowned best poet or poetess in Pretoria.

“The competition provides the youth with the platform to speak out about social issues that not only affect them but their communities as well, using spoken word poetry, ” says founder Ishmael Sibiya.

Sibiya said after the gruelling months of competition, he was happy that 10 finalists had been chosen out of the 120 gifted poets and poetesses who had entered.

He said the finalists would be competing for a share of R50 000 in cash prizes and a trip to the US valued at R60 000.

“The competition was tough but all these finalists really worked hard to be were they are today in the competition,” said Sibiya.

The semi-finals took place in October when the top 25 poets competed for the spot in the last 10 to advance to the grand finale.

“We had 209 poems which were performed so far across all our events,” said Sibiya.

“The poets worked on different things which were close to their hearts. The themes ranged from crucial topics such as woman abuse and xenophobia to the #FeesMustFall movement and alcohol and drug abuse, among others.”

The top finalists are Sipho Kori Sefeane, Mwamba Chileshe, Anga Mamfanya, Southren Mathibeng, Zewande BK Bhengu, Sibusiso Similane, Busisiwe Mahlangu, Given Masilela, Emmah Mabye and Fulufhelo Hope Netshivhambe.

Mamfanya said: “I’m honestly very surprised and super excited at the same time about having made it this far into the competition. I didn’t expect it at all. To be competing against some of Tshwane’s finest poets still shakes me to the core, it’s really humbling.”

Watch a video of Mamfanya peprform:

Judging the acts was US rapper and poet Jonathan B. Tucker.

The grand finale will feature performances by some of South Africa’s top musicians Lady Zamar and Black Motion.

The inaugural competition in August 2015, was a huge success, with about 80 poets competing.

Xabiso Vili came out victorious, netting himself R20 000 in prize money while Xitha Makgeta and Modise Sekgothe came second and third respectively.

See Vili’s powerful poem on weight and bullying.

“They won R10 000 and R5 000 respectively,” said Sibiya.

“The winners also have the opportunity to travel to Washington DC for a two-week poetry exchange. They will also perform at some of Washington DC’s biggest stages and venues, such as the Kennedy Center of the Performing Arts, which is the biggest performing arts centre in the US.”

Admission to the Tshwane Speak Out Loud is free and open to the public.

“Anyone interested in attending can RSVP via www.speakoutloud.co.za.”

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Thato Mahlangu

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