Poetry Workshop Series for Youth in the Community

Stellenbosch University’s (SU) English Department through its Literary Project (SLiP) in collaboration with the Division of Community Interaction (DCI)  launched a pilot poetry workshop series in August involving out-of-school youth and learners and teachers from three high schools in Stellenbosch – Makupula High; Kayamandi High and Luckhoff Senior Secondary. The workshops held once a month will run until the December 2011.

Hale Tsehlana (the SLiP Community Engagement Manager) from the English Department facilitates these workshops that aim to introduce out-of-school youth, learners and teachers to poetry writing; in order to motivate them to pursue further studies in creative writing and literature and to engage teachers in creative ways of introducing learners to poetry. In addition participants from these workshops will be given priority and preference to perform or read their poetry at the monthly SLiP poetry readings to deepen their love and appreciation of poetry. At the end of the five poetry workshops SLiP hopes to compile an anthology of publishable poetry that will expose participants to a wider reading public and participation at literary festivals such as Franschhoek and the Cape Town Book Fair of 2012.

Mrs Sesanti an English teacher at Makupula High who has attended the workshop for the month of August and September says that she was ‘intrigued and learnt so much “I could not have asked for more”. Mrs Borain, an English teacher at Luckhoff Senior Secondary says “I really found it interesting when she asked learners to write their own poems and to discuss it – this is something I want to try with my learners and to analyse their writing”.

Bulelwa Ntlayi, a grade 10 learner at Makupula High who has attended the workshops and who is one of the winners of the 2011 Stellenbosch Youth-D ay Poetry and Photography competition says ”the workshops are not only helping me to be a more creative poetry writer, but is also helping me with my English. I would like to encourage other young people to attend these workshops if they get a chance”.

Rolene Liebenberg from the DCI says that poetry as a form of expression will become a feature of all future youth-day events and hopes that the collaboration with SLiP in this event too will lead to publications of the youth’s poetry.

According to SLiP more schools and communities in the Stellenbosch area need to benefit from such interventions and it is anticipated that the program will be expanded in 2012.  Teacher participation in this programme is key to the sustainability of the initiative and it is very encouraging that some teachers also take part in these workshops.

For more information, visit www.slipnet.co.za.