Po­etry fest roars into life

Lesotho Times - - Week­ender - Mo­halenyane Phakela

THE in­au­gu­ral Po­etry and Arts Fes­ti­val roars into life to­day at AVANI Maseru Ho­tel, with South African poet, ac­tor and writer, Lebo Mashile, set to share the stage with var­i­ous fe­male word­smiths.

Among the lo­cal poets lined up to per­form at the fes­ti­val are Mpho Se­fali, Makhala “Poet­ic­soul” Soaphe and Retha­bile Lech­esa. Dur­ing the event, which be­gins at 6pm, vis­ual artists and crafters will also ex­hibit their wares.

Ac­cord­ing to the fes­ti­val’s or­gan­iser, Mon­toeli ‘Moleli, the event is co­in­cid­ing with Women’s Month Cel­e­bra­tions in Au­gust to shine a spot­light on them.

“The event is meant to give peo­ple an op­por­tu­nity to lis­ten to some of the finest fe­male word­smiths dur­ing this month that we cel­e­brate women in gen­eral,” he said.

“Po­etry is en­demic among Ba­sotho be­cause it is a medium of ex­pres­sion that is found in al­most ev­ery cel­e­bra­tion. How­ever, the po- etry scene has not been mak­ing waves like it used to be­cause Ba­sotho don’t sup­port the in­dus­try the way they do to mu­sic.”

‘Moleli said po­etry had the po­ten­tial to grow more than any other arts sec­tor if mar­keted well.

“There is so much ta­lent that needs to be spruced up to ap­peal to the in­ter­na­tional mar­ket. Bring­ing in an es­tab­lished poet like Lebo Mashile will help foster its de­vel­op­ment,” he said, adding the renowned poet would hold a sem­i­nar with poets on the line-up on how they can de­velop them­selves.

“We in­tend to make the Po­etry and Arts Fes­ti­val an an­nual event to nur­ture lo­cal ta­lent. We have also lined up a num­ber of shows in be­tween the fes­ti­val to raise the pro­file of the art form.”

For her part, Mashile told the Week­ender from her Jo­han­nes­burg base she was look­ing for­ward to per­form­ing in Le­sotho af­ter over a decade’s ab­sence.

“I have been to Le­sotho three times be­fore, but only per­formed once. The other two times I came to shoot doc­u­men­taries for SABC 1,” she said.

“It has been a very long time since I per­formed in the Moun­tain King­dom, and I am look­ing for­ward to the fes­ti­val and shar­ing the stage with lo­cal poets.”

Asked what themes she would ex­plore with her po­etry, Mashile said: “I love writ­ing about women’s is­sues and give peo­ple hope, es­pe­cially ladies since they are of­ten voice­less in so­ci­ety. As a mother of a two-month old baby, I will also ad­dress is­sues such as par­ent­hood.”

She also con­firmed the sem­i­nar with lo­cal poets and in­ter­ested writ­ers dur­ing her visit.

“I al­ways en­cour­age poets not to try to be the next Lebo but strive to set their own mark that will in­spire oth­ers. I will have a sem­i­nar with poets and in­ter­ested writ­ers from Le­sotho the fol­low­ing day (to­mor­row) so that we can share ideas and try to help them re­al­ize their dreams.”

Mashile was born in the United States to ex­iled par­ents and re­turned to South Africa in 1994. She is de­scribed as a “vis­ual ver­bal­ist”, and an icon of mod­ern South African po­etry.

south african poet and writer Lebo Mashile.

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