Badilisha Poetry, an online audio archive of African poetry, hosted an energetic poetry workshop for local poets this past Saturday at Maruapula School. The workshop was hosted in collaboration with Sauti Arts. In order to make African poetry both expansive and easily accessible, the Badilisha Poetry Xchange initiative is currently touring the continent to record different poets.
“We want to archive as many African poets as possible. This is not the first time we are recording poetry, we do it as often as we can. We recognize that there are limited formal platforms for poetry and poets don’t always have the resources to document their works so this program provides that opportunity for them,” explained Badilisha representative, Linda Kaoma.
The first facilitator at the workshop was renowned local poet, TJ Dema, who illustrated different techniques that participants can incorporate in their writing. Dema used multiple interactive exercises to upskill the up and coming poets. “As a poet you have to command attention from the moment the curtain opens,” she said, commenting on stage presence.
Published poet, Tiro Sebina, who teaches Literary Theory and Criticism at the University of Botswana, facilitated the second half of the session. He gave workshop attendants insights about the importance of language. “Being a poet means you have a pact with creativity, and this means you must jealously guard your imagination. You are a medium, sharing yourself, and expressing yourself,” stated Sebina.
One of the workshop attendants and emerging poet, Keenape Mohutsiwa, said the workshop was informative. “It was a very interactive workshop. Such platforms are needed to promote growth and develop young talent,” he said.
Badilisha also carried out a two day recording of the works of local poets in Gaborone. Over 20 Batswana poets were recorded and their poems are scheduled to be published soon. They will be freely accessible to the public on the Badilisha poetry website.
Currently the largest online collective of African poets in the world, Badilisha has archived over 350 Pan-African poets from 24 different countries and continues to expand its collection.