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The small village of McGregor, near Robertson, in the Western Cape is gearing up to host the 3rd McGregor Poetry Festival which will take place from the 27th to 30th of August this year. There is once again a great programme offering lovers of poetry a wide selection of events to attend. Festival attendees can look forward to attending poetry readings by Ian McCallum, Antjie Krog, John Maytham, Adam Small, Lara Kirsten, Patricia Schonstein, Petra Müller and Gert Vlok Nel to name just a few.
One of the highlights will be the festival lecture given by Prof Louise Viljoen on Saturday morning in the NG Kerk. Billy Kennedy, who founded the McGregor Poetry Festival, says that he feels honoured to have some of our country`s leading poets on the festival programme. He adds: “We are also excited about new, talented poets that will be reading their work. Names to look out for include Ansa Smit, Sisca Julius, Khadija Tracey Heeger and Genna Gardini. Our theme is “Growing Poetry” as we would also like to offer a platform at our festival for budding new writers. This year, a Mentorship Programme called “Growing Poets” has been launched to identify and assist budding young poets in the area. We are also running an open poetry competition to give everyone a chance to be part of this special ‘gathering of words.’
The main venues will be our beautiful Wahnfried Concert Hall, the exquisite gardens of Temenos, Edna Fourie Gallery and our beautiful NG Kerk. This year we also have some exciting new venues – the D’Amphitheater and De Akker, the old town hall where our Fringe events will take place. Our venues are all within walking distance of one another and have open fireplaces and comfortable, cosy seating. A homely, heartfelt experience.
A Passion for Poetry.
Kennedy spearheaded the festival in 2013 because of his deep passion for poetry. As a young child he recalls having his grandmothers placing him on their knees and reading to him their favourite poems. It became his dream (and an item on his bucket list) not only to honour poets for the immensely rich and varied way they enrich lives but also to champion the art of poetry. He explains: “So many people are wary of poetry. This has often has to do with the way it is taught to us. Perhaps we are tested by having to answer difficult questions about a poem we don’t fully understand or have someone, like a teacher, praise a particular poem only to find we don’t understand it or enjoy it all. Experiences like these can make one a little unsure about poetry. Yet throughout the ages poetry has always been a way for millions of people to use language to try to better understand love, hate, war, religion, oppression’ joy, sorrow, sex, death – in fact the whole human condition. It can encourage us to be more aware of ourselves and the world around us. It can inspire us to live more fully.
It’s potential is huge. Really huge!”
Cultures that do not honour their poets lose their essence and their voice. In many of our societies bigotry and prejudice contract the mind. Poetry resists contraction and expands the mind. It does not think in ways that limit and circumscribe its possibilities. It limbers up our imagination.
Poetry also gives a language to the heart and soul. In many ways it serves as a lifeline as we become more and more enmeshed in technology and information overload. The McGregor Poetry festival focuses mainly on poetry and is not a broad literary festival. The reason for this is that many literary festivals often become ‘heady’ affairs. Poetry encourages us to move from a head space to a deeper sense of our interconnectedness and the awareness of the fragility and value of our deeper hopes and dreams, as well as our natural resources.
MENTORSHIP PROGRAMME – GROWING POETS
This year, a Mentorship Programme called “Growing Poets” has been launched to identify and assist budding young poets in the area. Dave Magner, the co-ordinator of the mentorship programme, can be contacted for more information (023 625 1402 / firstname.lastname@example.org). The Worcester Standard is also running a Poetry Competition to give poets of all ages the opportunity of winning some great prizes and having their poem published. Watch the press (www.mcgregorpoetryfestival.co.za) for details.
OPEN POETRY COMPETITION
Are you a budding or closet poet? Would you like to see your poetry published?
Send in your entry before 17 August and stand a chance to win R5000 cash. The Winner and finalists will be announced on the 29th of August at 9h30 at De Akker in McGregor. Winning poems will be published in our annual McGregor Poetry Anthology. Entries can be sent to email@example.com. Poetry in Afrikaans, English and Xhosa can be entered; maximum two poems per person.
This competition is open to any aspiring poet who has not published a volume of their own poetry. For Poetry Competition Guidelines visit http://mcgregorpoetryfestival.blogspot.com/p/2015-poetry-competition.html. There are two categories: 14 – 17 Years and 18 Years – older.
In order to GROW POETRY we have applied for NPO status and are initiating a programme to identify, mentor and support young writers who need the opportunity to nurture and develop their talents. The mentorship team will be made up of well known, established poets who will guide and refine the art of these young men and women.
FIVE REASONS TO BE AT THE MCGREGOR POETRY FESTIVAL
The 3rd edition of The McGregor Poetry Festival takes place from the 27thto the 30 of August in the picturesque town of McGregor in the Western Cape. Here are five reasons why you just should NOT miss this very special event.
The festival is the only one of its kind in South Africa- dedicated to the ancient form of poetry. South Africa’s top poets mingle with up and coming stars to create a special mix. Listen to the great Antjie Krog, and discover also the special new talent of Ansa Smit. Over 50 poets descend on the village to showcase the best of what’s around.
McGregor is a special place. Tucked in a valley south west of Robertson, with no through road, you are enveloped by the best of mountain scenery. The village has a special collection of old homes that will delight even the most jaded palate. Surrounded by vineyards, there is a special mystique to the village, which you readily experience when you arrive.
The village is populated by a diverse and eccentric mix. Artists rub shoulders with artisans. Farmers enjoy a glass of wine with the philosophers. Plumbers are happy to break bread with the poets. The village brass band marches happily up the main street. Over the weekend of the festival, a happy band of poetry lovers embrace the village in their happy arms. The people are special here.
Poetry is about passion, and over the weekend you will see plenty of it. You will be moved to tears and roused to anger. You will laugh and love. You will experience the passion of the poets and revel in it.
At the end of your stay you will know that you have had a wonderful time in magical McGregor. Relish that pleasure!
So if you are out there and you feel would not only like to express yourself but develop your skill as a writer here is an opportunity for you. Try writing a poem and then send it to us. Or come along to The McGregor Poetry Festival and listen to great poets – and be inspired by them. A truly wonderful opportunity awaits you.
Bookings are through Computicket. For additional information please contact festival organiser, Jennifer Johnson 084 675 1164 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Twitter handle is: McGregor Poetry Fest @McGPoetry