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Poetavango’s programme at Maun Library

Poetavango, the poetry collective in Maun that runs the annual Maun International Arts Festival, is now running a very ambitious programme at the library in Maun.

With support from the American Embassy, they have put together a programme to uplift the artists in their community including visual artists, writers, musicians, comedians, spoken word poets, storytellers, and also events for the general public. The activities either take place in the library itself, or at the back in a tented area, in most cases in the evenings so that working people can attend.

The programme has already begun. The first activity was a Branding and Marketing Awareness Workshop targeted at musicians. It started on May 25. The objective was to teach upcoming artists how to use the internet to further their careers and to use social media such as Twitter and Facebook to improve their brand. They were also taught how to upload their music and videos on YouTube. The artists met for three days from 4.30pm-6.30pm inside the library where they had access to computers and the internet.

On June 2, upper primary students were at the library to learn about the American abstract painter Jackson Pollock and his technique of abstract expressionism. They were also taught the technique of painting called Action Painting.

To celebrate the Day of the African Child, June 16, the public is invited to “Who was Hector Peterson? A Panel Discussion for Secondary School Learners”. Each school (junior and senior secondary) in the area will send one student to be part of the panel which will be discussing the meaning of the day of the African Child.

Poetavango has a commitment to encouraging a culture of reading among Batswana and one of their programmes addresses this head-on; it’s called “Books: An Ice Axe of a Frozen Sea Within”, the title coming from a quote by Franz Kafka about how books open up our minds. To get people reading, the group is choosing two books for members to read in a sort of book club format. These books will be

discussed over two evenings at the library on June 27-28.

I am honoured to say that the last part of their reading programme includes the launch of my new novel, The Scattering. The launch is scheduled for June 29 from 6.30pm at the back of the library in the tented area. The public is invited.

On July 2 they will be having “Cold Bold Winter Words: A Storytelling and Recital Session”. It is the first time Poetavango will hold an open mic session at the Maun Library. It will be a platform for storytellers, poets and comedians. It will take place at the back of the library in the evening and is open to the public. There will be free tea and coffee to warm you up as well.

On July 15 and 22 there will be viewing and discussion of the American show Def Jam, July 15 will be on poetry and July 22 will be all about comedy. The objective is to analyse how these performers in the United States perfect their craft and to discuss it and how those techniques might be used to widen the scope of Botswana’s spoken word and comedy scene.

On July 30 there is another event for visual artists, “Understanding Contemporary Conceptual Art Expressions”. It is a multimedia presentation looking at the contemporary art scene in the United States followed by a discussion.

This is really a fantastic programme that makes most of us, myself included, extremely jealous of folks who live in Maun and have the opportunity to be part of it. I just hope Maunites will support Poetavango and Maun Library and attend the events in large numbers. The programme will be on-going only taking a break for Poetavango to organise the Festival but after that events will begin again at the library. For more information about the programme you can contact Poetavango at

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