South Africa, April 2020: Hear My Voice, a non-profit organisation that develops and supports spoken word artists, will launch an online web-series, on 16 April, to financially support poets who are affected by the current lockdown and global COVID-19 pandemic.
The “Poetry Relief Fund” was launched on 1 April to provide a means of financial support to freelance poets who unwillingly forfeited income due to cancelled events, as a result of the Corona Virus outbreak in South Africa. The Relief Fund pays poets an honorarium of R1000 per online-event and poets who wished to qualify as beneficiaries of this fund had to submit applications via the Hear My Voice website. To date, 48 poets have applied and the first 25 have been selected and will be announced in stages, as the live streaming events get announced.
To kick-start the fund, Hear My Voice contributed R16 000 and a further R10 000 was gifted by Poetry Potion – an online platform for freely accessible poetry. Each episode of the web-series will showcase five beneficiaries and give them the opportunity to do readings of their work – all of which will be hosted by Mo Afrika, a South African based poet, performer, cultural activist and business woman.
The first episode will take place on Thursday, 16 April from 7pm – 8pm and will be lived-streamed from the Hear My Voice Facebook page. This week’s episode will showcase Belita Andre from Gauteng, Kwazi Ndlangisa from KwaZulu Natal, Khadija Tracey Heeger from Western Cape, Kwena Peu from Free State and Sana King from Gauteng. Next episodes will be aired every Tuesday & Thursday, for as long as the Relief Fund can support these poets.
To date, R27 200 has been raised, including R1200 of public donations. Based on the funds raised, five episodes have been confirmed thus far. Hear My Voice is still working on securing further funding and will re-open applications should this materialize. Those who wish to donate to the cause can do so by using PayFast, PayPal or donating directly to the Hear My Voice bank account.