The Giving Poetry Wings workshop brought together poets and visual artists in a unique opportunity for collaborations. Picture: IMAGES.NATIONALARTSFESTIVAL.CO.ZA
The Giving Poetry Wings workshop brought together poets and visual artists in a unique opportunity for collaborations. Picture: IMAGES.NATIONALARTSFESTIVAL.CO.ZA

At the National Arts Festival I participated in Giving Poetry Wings, part of the inaugural Creativate digital technologies mini festival. Spearheaded by Thuthukani Ndlovu from the Bloemfontein Literary Festival, the event brought together 20 poets and visual artists from across the country for four days.

It was a unique opportunity for collaborations, finding stimulating ways of intersecting skills and learning from others’ creative processes.

Visual poetry: Graphic designed by Keneilwe Kwanaite, with words by Anton Krueger. Picture: IMAGES.NATIONALARTSFESTIVAL.CO.ZA
Visual poetry: Graphic designed by Keneilwe Kwanaite, with words by Anton Krueger. Picture: IMAGES.NATIONALARTSFESTIVAL.CO.ZA

The workshops ended in an exhibition of works conceptualised and created within 48 hours, which included 20 posters and a short film by Chosen Flower based on a poignant poem by the luminous Xabiso Vili.

We also attended a monthly poetry reading hosted by Harry Owen. This presented a fascinating juxtaposition of a generally older, whiter set with younger, blacker poets from all over the country.

"Recovery" - words by Xabiso Vili, Keneilwe Kwanaite, Chosen Flower and Anton Krueger, artwork designed by Keneilwe Kwanaite and Chosen Flower. Picture: IMAGES.NATIONALARTSFESTIVAL.CO.ZA
"Recovery" - words by Xabiso Vili, Keneilwe Kwanaite, Chosen Flower and Anton Krueger, artwork designed by Keneilwe Kwanaite and Chosen Flower. Picture: IMAGES.NATIONALARTSFESTIVAL.CO.ZA

At meetings such as these it can sometimes feel like there’s a divide between those maintaining a respect for the texture of the physically printed page, and others working more on developing the voice and presence of the performer. What made the conversation a friendly exchange was that each group could learn from the other, and both could benefit from the opportunities offered by the cornucopia of digital media.

Image, text and live performance are powerful forms that are not only enhanced but can also be inspired by digital technologies offering perpetual reproducibility.

Digital does not mean inauthentic or disembodied. Digital is as much part of our means of expression as the earliest language, as much as every physical vibration of sound.

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