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Live-streamed events help poets make ends meet

Poets who find themselves struggling during the national Covid-19 lockdown have been granted assistance through an innovative fundraising  project by non-profit organisation Hear My Voice.

The organisation, which develops and supports spoken-word artists, launched its Poetry Relief Fund web series on April 16 and,  based on the success of that live-streamed event, now intends to host two more sessions. 

The Poetry Relief Fund opened for applications on April 1 and affected poets were invited to send in work for consideration. 

Nearly 50 applications were received and 25 of these poets were then chosen as beneficiaries. 

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Hear My Voice was able raise R27,200 and settled on the web series as a way to provide the poets with some form of financial assistance while also creating a platform for them to share their work. 

Ishmael Sibiya is the executive director of Hear My Voice.

“Each poet receives a R1,000 honorarium per live-streamed event and we’re hoping to be able to support more poets if we can raise more funds.”

Ishmael Sibiya

Each episode features five poets from around the country and is hosted by Mo Afrika, a poet, performer, cultural activist and the co-founder of Hear My Voice. 

Participating poets join from their own homes and the session is then live-streamed to the Hear My Voice Facebook page.

More than 1,500 poetry lovers tuned in for the first episode.

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“The first episode went exceptionally well and received praise from many people within the literary space,” Sibiya says.

“The quality of work coming through from these poets has been incredible and we’re honoured to be able to contribute to the arts sector during this difficult time.” 

Ishmael Sibiya

The next sessions will take place on Tuesday April 21 and Thursday April 23 from 7pm on the same Facebook page.

In episode two viewers will meet Blaq Pearl and Siphosethu Phikelela from the Western Cape, Thando Fuze from KwaZulu-Natal, Mogale Sedibe from the Northen Cape, and Billy Godiragetse from Gauteng.

Hear My Voice is now working towards securing more funding and will re-open applications as soon this materialises. 

Those who wish to donate can do so via PayFast, PayPal or donating directly to the Hear My Voice bank account.

Visit the relief fund for more information.

Share your Covid-19 #lockdown experiences on our Facebook group, Lockdown Diaries South Africa.


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