UKZN’s Centre for Creative Arts (CCA), with principal funding from the City of Durban, held auditions for emerging poets keen to take part as Prelude Poets in the 20th Poetry Africa Festival from 10 to 15 October.
The auditions gave the city’s poets the opportunity to compete for the honour of showcasing their work to audiences at the country’s premier poetry festival. Many poets performing in this space have gone on to be invited as festival participants in Poetry Africa and other platforms in subsequent years.
The poets auditioned with performances in areas such as reading their work, performance poetry, slam poetry, musical items and praise poetry. Entrants were required to perform original pieces within a five minute slot.
UKZN student Ms Khuselo Makhanya of Inanda, who considers herself a newbie poet, chose to audition for the programme to kick-start her career in the spoken word scene. ‘I think this is a great opportunity for me to explore and further develop my talents. Poetry is such a meaningful and a deeply profound way to express myself and I want the festival audience and judges to appreciate my work.’
Umlazi poet Mr Mfanafuthi Shaka, is not only an advocate for the Arts but a poet in his own right. This is his second time auditioning. ‘Poetry Africa is a great platform for any emerging poet. I’ve always attended the festival and seen such powerful talent on stage… and I want to be a part of that. Poetry is my livelihood and it’s my passion.’
Judging their work was CCA staff members Mr Sakhile Gumede, Mr Mfundo Hlatswayo, Ms Lungile Ngubelanga and Mr Mncedisi Ndabezitha.
Gumede said: ‘Participants were asked to read from their own works and this was an advantage for them because they were able to prepare in advance for the auditions. They were also given the opportunity to perform in indigenous languages. As judges we looked at their stage appearance, personality and originality.
‘This included how they handled the microphone on stage, their voice projection and whether they showed audience awareness during the performance. We then scored them from 0-10 in all those different aspects. In the end, we applied a mathematical solution and those who had the highest scores were chosen to participate in the main event,’ he said.
The Prelude Poets selected were Khuselo Makhanya, Bright Luthuli, Langelihle Maniza Khuzwayo and Shashi Simelane.