- Since 2017, the competition has received over 80 000 poems from 18 000 poets.
- Some of these are available for the public to read at Avbob’s free online library.
- This year’s winners received a R10 000 cash prize and a book voucher valued at R2 500.The winners’ work is published in an anthology that looks to celebrate South Africa’s language diversity.
The Avbob Poetry Project is an annual poetry competition. With its first iteration taking place in 2017, the project invited South Africans to submit poetry themed around love, hope, death and birth. The poems can be in any of the country’s 11 official languages.
Since 2017, the competition has received over 80 000 poems from 18 000 poets. Some of these are available for the public to read at Avbob’s free online library.
To announce the competition winners, Avbob hosts a poetry gala evening.This year’s event took place via social media livestream.
The 2020 winners of the Avbob Poetry Project, for each language, are as follows:
- Pristine Siyabonga Mtsweni (isiNdebele)
- Given Maceke (Xitsonga)
- Siwaphiwe Fortune Shweni (isiXhosa)
- Sebastian Jili (isiZulu)
- Ntakadzeni Makuya (Tshiven?a)
- Tebogo Mamabolo (Sepedi)
- Sekhobo Moshe (Sesotho)
- Lesego Motlhankane (Setswana)
- Sibahle Thwala (Siswati)
- Bernice Puleng Mosala (English)
- Meretha Maartens (Afrikaans)
See some of the poets who attended the gala event.
Poets who won first place took home a R10 000 cash prize and a book voucher worth R2 500. Speaking about this year’s entries, the chief executive of Avbob, Carl van der Riet said the poetry spoke to the country’s wealth in “talent, infinite forgiveness and unfettered potential”.
Alongside the gala event is the launch of an anthology of poems titled I Wish I'd Said. The latest volume was edited and compiled by Johann de Lange and Goodenough Mashego. It has 102 poems. Of the 102, 66 were commissioned, 33 came from the 2020 competition’s winners, and the last three poems (written in |Xam) were included to actively document the language as it stands on the brink of extinction.
Speaking of poetry’s role in preserving languages at the virtual gala event, de Lange says: