Obs poet ready to shine at Constellations

Malika Ndlovu

Observatory poet Malika Ndlovu will be one of many artists performing at Constellations at Spier.

The event, billed as a multi-layered outdoor presentation that draws in musicians, poets, storytellers, mystics and mavericks, starts this evening, Thursday November 25, and runs until Saturday December 18.

Ms Ndlovu, who is originally from Durban, says she has always been interested in spoken-word poetry and writing and publishing poems.

“Both my parents loved books, telling stories of various kinds and appreciated the juice of good conversation, skill with words whether written, spoken or sung.”

She published her first book of poems, Born in Africa, 1999.

“Over the years, my work in poetry has grown to encompass the whole spectrum from writing, performing, editing, publishing of my own work,” she says.

She is a podcast presenter on the Badilisha Poetry X-change, a website where various poets can share their work, and has performed her work across America and in Vancouver, Athens, Belfast, Osaka, Addis Ababa and Amsterdam.

“Poetry is a way of moving through the world, breathing through experiences and crystallizing the learnings into poems,” she says.

Performing at the Spier again is a homecoming, she says, as she curated the first incarnation of the Africa Centre’s Badilisha Poetry Festival there in 2007 and attended many arts events there since.

“As part of Constellations last year, it felt momentous to gather with other people to share and appreciate our art, to sit intimately as human beings under one starry sky having had such diverse yet common experiences of this surreal time,” she says.

This year at the Constellations, Ms Ndlovu will be performing a work called Light Portal. “Of course poetry will be my medium and I am taking on a persona, not far off from who I am, but quite Malika the performer-facilitator like last year,” she says.

Ms Ndlovu is also working on a new book, Grief Seed, which honours the importance of expressing grief and its generative nature. She expects it to be published by April next year.

Twenty-seven artists – the Fire Guardians – will present at Constellations. They are musicians Odwa Bongo, Manu Grace, Moodship, FreeMan locs, Jak Tomas, Nkosenathi Koela, Thandeka Mfinyongo, Miles Sievwright and Dizu Plaatjies; performance artists Nwabisa Plaatjie, Gaetan Schmid, Thando Doni, Rehane Abrahams, Qondiswa James, Wessel Pretorius, Nico Athene, Siphenathi Mayekiso, Louise Westerhout, Megan Choritz and Odidi Mfenyana; poets and storytellers Philippa Kabali-Kagwa, Liza Scholtz, Malika Ndlovu and Toni Giselle Stuart, and mystics and mavericks Rod Suskin, Lindi Dlamini and Tapiwa Gurza.

Tickets to Constellations can be booked through Webtickets.