Poets, get your work out there – with the help of Avbob

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I Wish I'd Said... (Volume 5)
I Wish I'd Said... (Volume 5)

EVENT: Avbob Poetry Competition


Writers of poetry who want to get their work out to readers – and possibly win something for it and get into an anthology – have a few days left to enter the Avbob poetry competition, which closes on 30 November.

Those who wish to submit work can find out here how to do so. You register, then can upload your poem(s) to the site. The competition caters for all 11 official South African languages, which are later published in translation into English, with the originals alongside.

The poems are judged and selected for, ultimately, inclusion in the Avbob anthology. The latest volume, I Wish I’d Said… Vol 5 (Naledi), was released on Heritage Day at a ceremony at which the winners of the most recent competition were also announced.

The first-place winners, given in alphabetical order of language category, are: Clinton V du Plessis (Afrikaans), Letitia Matthews (English), Nkosinathi Mduduzi Jiyana (isiNdebele), Sipho Kekezwam(isiXhosa), Nomkelemane Langa (isiZulu), Pabalelo Maphutha (Sepedi), Kgobani Mohapi (Sesotho), Molebatsi Joseph Bosilong (Setswana), Prisca Nkosi (Siswati), Mashudu Stanley Ramukhuba (Tshiven?a) and Pretty Shiburi (Xitsonga).

The winners receive R10 000 in cash each and R2500 in the form of a gift voucher.

The competition continues throughout the year, with ideas, advice and prompts from established poets provided in ongoing encouragement and guidance. It’s a major project, given that so many poems are submitted, and that so many are then translated: 65% of this year’s entries are in languages other than English or Afrikaans. Avbob CEO Carl van der Riet noted that “the Avbob Poetry Library now contains over 17 000 poems, each of which earned the poet a usage fee of R300. That amounts to over R5.2-million spent on building a cultural repository of poems available to those who need words of comfort and consolation.”

Those 17 000 poems were selected, says Johann de Lange, co-editor of I Wish I’d Said…, from a total of 144 000 submissions made since the initiative was launched in 2017. As for this volume, which runs to a substantial 300 pages, Avbob said: “A selection of commissioned poems and four Khoisan poems from the Bleek and Lloyd collection round out the anthology.” It was compiled and edited by De Lange and and the esteemed Xitsonga academic, literary translator and founding chair of the Pan South African Language Board, Professor Nxalati CP Golele.

De Lange said: “Poetry bears witness to our lives, our loves and our losses. It helps us traverse major transitions, giving us the words to name the feelings and to tame the emotions. It helps us to fathom what we must live for, define what we must protect, and focus on what we must promote in a changing world.”

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