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‘Healing’ poets up for Sol Plaatje Poetry Award

Three poems have been shortlisted from the more than 600 submitted for the 2016 Sol Plaatje European Union Poetry Award.

“These South African poets have understood something,” said Professor Mongane Wally Serote, chair of the judging panel. He chose the three finalists from a longlist compiled by his fellow judges, Thabiso “Afurakan” Mohare (poetry in English), Goodenough Mashego (poetry in indigenous languages) and Pieter Odendaal (poetry in Afrikaans).

“They hold the present by the scruff and threaten it,” said Serote of the shortlisted works.

“If this nation has not revolted, it is evolving to revolt, the poets say. The present cannot hold, the poets keep saying. Like healers, they sing, beat the drums and dance to the rhythm of their tongues.”

In alphabetical order, the three shortlisted poems are: Cape Town by Charles Marriott, Mambhele’s Harvest by Siphokazi Jonas and Visit at Tea Time by Athol Williams.

The finalists will be invited to the prize-giving event at the M&G Literary Festival at Sci-Bono in Newtown, Johannesburg, on Sunday October 9 at 11.30am.

The overall winner will receive R6 000, with R4 000 for second place and R2 000 for third.

Aptly, the event takes place on the 140th anniversary of the birth of Solomon Tshekisho Plaatje (1876–1932), novelist, poet, translator, chronicler and a founding member of what is now the ANC.

Volume six of the Sol Plaatje European Union Poetry Award anthology will be launched at the same time. It will contain all the poems on the longlist, which were judged blind by Mohare, Mashego and Odendaal. — M&G Reporter

The awards and the anthology are funded by the European Union, administered by the Jacana Literary Foundation and in partnership with the M&G Literary Festival. For more information, contact the Jacana Literary Foundation on [email protected]

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