The Gallery of the University of Stellenbosch (GUS) was packed on the 12th of August when the Cape Town Poetry Slam competition kicked off its first preliminary round with a bang.
Throughout the afternoon, the gallery kept filling up as supporters and poetry lovers of all ages watched the young poets battle it out.
At the end of the preliminary round, Rijadh Sarang won the competition and was met with a standing ovation from the crowd.
“This is my passion,” Sarang said after the event. “I’ve always been writing poetry. In the past I mostly wrote about sad things, but now recently I’ve started doing more happy things, because I’m over my sadness. A lot of people write, but they don’t know how powerful their writing is before they come to spaces like this. ”
By the end of the event, the gallery was filled to the brim with people sitting on the floor and standing at the back to be able to watch the poets perform.
Within the first preliminary, three rounds take place. In the first round, 25 poets above the age of 16 may recite their work for one minute. The top ten poets are then chosen to present more of their works in the second round of two minutes each. In the last round, five are chosen to present for three minutes each, after which the judges choose the top three poets.
The judging panel consisted of Toni Stuart, Siphokazi Jonas, Jitsfinger and two audience judges. Throughout the performance, the judges considered key aspects such as the performance, content and presentation of the poems.
The event was hosted by Alison Claire-Hoskins, who also performed one of her works at the beginning of the event.
According to Nthateng Machaea, one of the audience judges, poetry slams give poets a space to be the poet they want to be. “People always complain that they don’t have a space to be a poet, but here is your space now!”
Du Toit Albertze, one of the poets that participated in the top-5 round, says that the poetry slam is a good platform because it allows for diversity. “You can write and present in any language, which makes it very inclusive. The crowds are also very interactive, which makes it a very lively experience.”
The top 3 poets will participate in the final round of the Cape Town Poetry Slam competition, which will take place on the 9th of September in the Fugard Theatre in Cape Town. – Lida Malherbe