Inaugural Poetry Festival starts next month

Raletsatsi says 15 Finalists selected from the annual President's Day Competitions will battle it out at the Poetry Festival
Raletsatsi says 15 Finalists selected from the annual President's Day Competitions will battle it out at the Poetry Festival

After securing a sponsorship worth P769, 186 from BTC Foundation, The Black African Poets Organisation will host the first ever BTC Poetry Festival at Thapong Visual Arts Centre on September 20.

Fifteen finalists selected from the annual President’s Day Competitions (PDC) will battle it out at the Poetry festival. The winner will walk away with a recording deal.

During a media briefing this week, the chairperson of The Black African Poets Organisation, Lebalerona Dumelang explained that for the poetry industry that hardly ever gets funding, their contract with BTC will last for two years.

The Black African Poets Organisation was sponsored alongside other community project groups with a staggering P1.7 million from BTC Foundation.

“Poetry was only downgraded to Kgotla events and weddings. But BTC saw it fit to improve us by taking us from one level to the next. Besides the festival, there will be monthly Poetry Nights to augment the Poetry festival throughout the country,” she said.

She said the reason they chose the Poetry festival finalists from PDC was to continue where government had left off. “Most of these talented poets don’t know where to go after winning PDC and that’s where we get in.

We don’t want poets to go back and compete with other upcoming poets at the PDC. But rather they should go forward and improve their craft,” she highlighted.  Looking back, Dumelang said it was not an easy journey to win the sponsorship. “There were 309 applications but in the end we managed to be amongst the best four.

We were called in for interviews and at some point we were doubtful about our chances for success . But in the end we stood head and shoulder high,” she said.

For his part, one of the festival’s strategic partners, Benjamin Raletsatsi from Development Advanced Institute (DAI) said the arts contribute a lot to economies of countries such as USA and Nigeria.  Therefore as DAI they want more people to get employment through the creative sector. “We want to make this a job driver because many of us are a creative lot. As DAI we believe in our own home-grown talent.  So that is why we are happy to be a part of this initiative,” he added. 

Raletsatsi also said through the project, they are going to take one of the creative industry’s components being poetry from one level to another. “Talent is there and doesn’t need to be created. Poetry is not child’s play but serious business,” he concluded.

The public will get a chance to select their winner through a voting line and their votes will contribute 70% to the overall decision.

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