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NAF FRINGE POETRY (article first published : 2006-06-17)

Body politics, the Soweto Uprising, frustrations, complications and explanations - the urban phenomenon of performance poetry is ready to make its mark on the National Arts Festival Fringe in Grahamstown from June 29 to July 8.

Using the spoken word, striking images, elements of spirituality, and vocals, Bonginkosi Joseph aka Prophet JD from Prophecy Line Concepts, reflects on what the 30th anniversary of the 1976 Soweto Youth Uprising should mean to South Africans. Black Reflections is in part a tribute, and in part a reminder of the relevance today of the mindset, the circumstances and the frustrations, that fuelled the uprising 30 years ago.

In One Mind, One Mouth, One Mic, Creamy Ewok Baggends, 'the hip-hop monkey', uses slam style poetry to voice the frustrations of the current generation. Armed with a microphone and shielded by a hooded top, Baggends flows from the ego of a Battle Rapper to the insecurities of a suburban White Boy. Baggends doesn't confine himself to the negative - he provides a balanced body of work that is funky, pertinent and thoroughly entertaining.

From aardvarks to dragonflies, owls to seahorses and zebra, our chromosome-cousins star in a show that will leave audiences awestruck at the finesse of life on this planet. Chris Mann's poetry is beautifully juxtaposed with Julia Skeen's exquisite images in the multi-media presentation Lifelines.

Exhibit 001 casts a spotlight on what drives, inspires and fires the artist, poet, dancer, animator - to make a public statement and expose their most inner selves. "The work is an honest exploration of ourselves as performers - we focus on the artists' ego, inspiration, motivation - fame/recognition, social commentary and protest" say Zamantungwa, Kabelo Mofokeng and Yoliswa Mogale, founder members of the company, trie.poetry. Other artists featured in the Festival performances will include Raven - a poet, Sidney Ndhlovu - an animator, and Bonolo Rashidi - a dancer.

Mphatheni Mavundla and the Roses of Africa (MAROSA) present Maluju!, a showcase of Mavundla's poetry including works such as Zintombi Zakuleli, Highways of Hell, Nothing We Know, and the title piece Maluju!.

"Are you shopping for a sexual identity or are you just browsing? Are you happy with your body-part purchases and the warranty that it comes with? " Drivingfish's The Adult Contemporary Poetry Sex Shop explores body politics by shopping for words and visuals from the shelves of an imaginary sex shop. Drivingfish is a performance duo that was born from the talents of performer and poet, U-jean Fish and classically trained pianist and composer, Dave Drive. Together they create a journey of self-exploration and discovery through performance poetry and cabaret made vivid by dynamic electronic compositions, visuals and movement set in a timeless zone.

Rediscover the power of words at Wordfest, South Africa's only multilingual festival of language and literature. Featuring book launches, debates, a lecture series, open mic sessions, workshops and live performances by singer-songwriters (Old Mutual Encounters) and Eastern Cape artists (Literature Live) - there's a feast of words in this year's line-up!

Grab a Booking Kit from your nearest Standard Bank branch or Computicket outlet or check out the Festival's website - www.nafest.co.za Booking is open at Computicket or phone 046 603 1103 for further information.

The National Arts Festival is presented by The Eastern Cape Government, Standard Bank, The National Lottery Distribution Trust Fund, SABC and the National Arts Council. Business & Arts South Africa (BASA) has made a special grant available to the National Arts Festival this year with the major portion going to the artists on the Festival fringe. The rest of the donation goes to the Cue newspaper, the Youth Audience Development Project and the Art-Walk Meander Map.




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