Open Book Poetry Slam celebrates Mother Tongue Poetry


The second annual Open Book Poetry Slam takes place as part of Poetica, at Open Book Festival in September. In 2013 it was the first slam to form part of a literary festival programme in South Africa, and in 2014 it will now expand beyond the festival.

Last year, the Open Book Poetry Slam was completely sold out, making it Poetica's most popular event. This year, the event moves to a bigger venue – the 150-seater Fugard Theatre Studio where some of Cape Town's most compelling young poets will be featured.

“This year, we've decided to grow the slam beyond the festival itself - we want to use the platform to encourage poets to write and perform in their mother tongue,” says Poetica curator, Toni Stuart.

Three poetry workshops – in English, Afrikaans and Xhosa – will be offered to poets where they will receive training in poetry writing and performance, free of charge.

The workshop facilitators are:

Khadija Heeger: renowned poet, performer and facilitator

Lwanda Sindaphi: poet, playwright and director

Jitsvinger: poet, hip hop artist and musician

The poetry slam will have three preliminary rounds – one hosted by InZync in Stellenbosch, one by Lingua Franca and a third round will be hosted by Poetica at Central Library. The third round will feature UK poet and performer, Francesca Beard, thanks to British Council ConnectZA. She too will run a workshop on slam techniques before the final slam, and will share a feature performance during the event.

The dates, for all the slam events are as follows:

Poetry Workshops

Venue: Central Library, Cape Town

Date and time: Saturday, 23 August 23 from 12pm – 3pm,

The English, Afrikaans and Xhosa poetry workshops are on the same day, with each language taking place in a different room.

Preliminary Slam Events

Lingua Franca Slam

Venue: TBC

Date and time: Friday, 29 August from 7pm – 10pm

InZync Poetry Slam

Venue: Amazink, Stellenbosch

Date and time: Thursday, 4 September from 7pm – 10pm

Poetica Slam

Venue: Central Library, Cape Town

Date and time: Saturday, 13 September from 12pm - 3:30pm

Slam techniques workshop by Francesca Beard: 12pm – 1pm

Poetica Slam featuring performance by Francesca Beard: 1.30pm – 3.30pm

Final Slam Event

Venue: the Fugard Theatre Studio

Date and Time: Poetica, Open Book Festival, Saturday, 20 September from 8pm – 9:30pm

More information: Featured performances by Adrian Different Van Wyk, Khanyisile Mbongwa and Hakkiesdraad

The workshops and preliminary rounds are free to enter and attend while the Open Book Poetry Slam final will be a ticketed event at the festival.

“We're excited to see and hear the work that Cape Town's poets will bring to the slam this year. We're really hoping to see more Xhosa and Afrikaans poets competing at all of our events,” says Stuart.

The Open Book Poetry Slam is in collaboration with Slipnet's InZync Poetry Session, Lingua Franca Spoken Word Movement and Cape Town Central Library and is made possible through sponsorship from Taurus Associates.


Contact information:

Open Book Poetry Slam and the workshops, and to register for the workshops

Toni Stuart

071 5733597 or

InZync Poetry Slam

Adrian Van Wyk

079 198 8095 or email

Lingua Franca Poetry Slam

Mbongeni Nomkonwana

076 895 6093 or email

About Open Book Festival

Open Book Cape Town is an annual literary festival, the first of which happened in 2011. Dates for Open Book 2013 are 7 – 11 September. The hubs will once again be the Fugard Theatre and much-loved indie bookshop, The Book Lounge.

When Mervyn Sloman and Ben Williams started talking about creating a festival, they had in mind around 60 literary events over 5 days featuring about 15 top international as well as some of the best South Africans writing today. Due to the incredible support Open Book received, that quickly grew into a festival that now includes over 100 events, featuring over 100 authors.