Siphokazi Jonas to headline Poetry Africa Festival 2021

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South African poet, playwright and producer, Siphokazi Jonas is honoured to be the featured act on the 2021 Poetry Africa Festival.




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Under the theme “Unmute: Power to the Poet”, the twenty fifth version of the digital competition is about to happen on the Centre for Creative Arts on the University of KwaZulu-Natal from Monday, October 11 and runs till Saturday, October 16.



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“Being chosen because the Poetry Africa Featured Poet this yr has been a lesson in celebrating all of the moments of impression as a result of artwork permits us to contribute one thing to society and ourselves day-after-day. I’m really grateful to the competition, that is an honour,” shares Jonas.

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Jonas says she will probably be tackling psychological well being and the way the sense of neighborhood has been affected, significantly throughout these unsure occasions.



The famend poet hopes her private experiences will assist the audiences overcome their challenges as nicely.

The Eastern-Cape born star says it was in the course of the top of lockdown that she virtually gave up her profession as an artist.

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Siphokazi Jonas. Picture: Sithembele Jnr (SJ Photography)

“The early days of lockdown had been ones of excessive anxiousness due to how shortly our livelihood was taken away.

“I’ve all the time been laser-focused about a profession within the arts and have by no means wavered, even throughout probably the most difficult occasions.

“Last yr was the primary time I’ve ever thought of quitting as a result of it appeared we might not discover a method out of the performer-audience mannequin.

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“But I thank God and the unimaginable neighborhood which I’ve round me as a result of we started improvising and developing with methods to take our work online.

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“This is once we streamed a theatre recording of #wearedyinghere around the globe, and together with Optical Films and the assist of the Kolisi Foundation, the manufacturing was tailored into a brief film.

“Being multi-disciplinary meant I used to be ready to take extra writing jobs and purchasers had been requiring filmed performances as a substitute of reside ones.

“The improve in collaboration and filming has led to a distinct method of disseminating my work, but additionally wider audiences,” says Jonas.

When requested about the way forward for arts in South Africa, post-Covid-19, Jonas gives: “In the poem which I wrote for SONA 2021, ’What doesn’t sink’, there’s a line which says, ‘The artist contemplates whether or not to eat her personal phrases, and artwork starves.’

“I imagine that artists will all the time make artwork. However, the division which holds the virtually sacred duty to make sure that arts and tradition are protected is failing and has achieved so throughout some of the devastating occasions in latest historical past. They have left us consuming our personal creations to survive.

“Further, the ‘ravenous artist’ trope will even proceed to be a actuality if artists aren’t paid their royalties and residuals for the continuing use of their recorded works and their photos.

“Artists are utilizing each their work and their our bodies as protest, my hope is that those that eat our work will assist these efforts.

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“I’m impressed by the fervour and tenacity of South African artists, whereas I’m deeply discouraged by corrupt management, the latter jogs my memory of a legendary character, Laqhasha, from Sgudi Snaysi, reducing off our potential for progress on the knees,” she says.

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Siphokazi Jonas. Picture: Supplied

Her work tackles points round religion, id, gender-based violence, cultural and linguistic alienation, black girls in rural areas, and the politics of on a regular basis lives.

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“My work is about sight: seeing and being seen. My characters are sometimes within the margin indirectly and I invite them to communicate with nuance as a substitute of the two-dimensional method during which they could typically be offered.

“I goal to deal with these tales with compassion all the time, the viewers will probably be challenged to interrogate their very own prejudice and be moved to empathy, not just for the characters however for themselves and for the individuals round them as nicely.

“It can be why my work interrogates privilege and the abuse of energy in order that we are able to examine our place in relation to that abuse, and ask uncomfortable questions equivalent to, are we complicit?”

Jonas counts poets and theatre-makers Ntozakhe Shange, Napo Masheane and Thembi Mtshali-Jones amongst her inventive inspirations.

“My major affect within the mixture of poetry and theatre is Ntozakhe Shange, the creator of the choreopoem. There are different creators like Napo Masheane who’re extremely adept with the shape, and it’s a pleasure to take into account them contemporaries.

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“Two of my favorite storytellers are Mam Thoko Ntshinga and Mam Thembi Mtshali-Jones. Some musicians who affect my method to artwork and efficiency embrace Lea Salonga, who has sung for Disney and Broadway, for instance, has probably the most unimaginable diction, and Babalwa Zimbini Makwetu.

“Zimbini brings her total spirit into efficiency and I all the time have a visceral response once I hear to her. As a multi-disciplinary artist, I draw from many alternative artwork kinds to make chakalaka in my very own inventive bowl,” admits the star.

Legendary poet Dr Stella Nyanzi will probably be delivering the keynote speech in the course of the opening of the competition on Monday, October 11, at 11am.

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Nyanzi is a a number of award-winning medical anthropologists, specialising in sexual and reproductive well being, sexual rights and human sexualities in Uganda and The Gambia.

“Both Stella Nyanzi and Siphokazi Jonas characterize the model of sturdy girls voices who’ve been a characteristic of the Poetry Africa competition for 1 / 4 of a century.

“They are fearless and unambiguous in letting their voices encourage hope. The poems give company and impetus to the continued wrestle for social justice,“ says Siphindile Hlongwa, curator of the Poetry Africa Festival.

The twenty fifth Poetry Africa Festival is freely accessible and could be watched by way of Facebook and YouTube.



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