Busisiswe Mahlangu is a poet, performer and TEDx Speaker born in 1996 in Mamelodi, Pretoria. She explains her work as a space of healing and growth for herself. Her poetry is mostly described as hard-hitting and raw, she uses her work to hold space for conversations around poverty, mental health, education, healing, domestic violence and being and staying alive.
Busisiwe is the founder of Lwazilubanzi, a community project that aims to use literature as a tool of learning, resistance and healing; working with public schools around Pretoria. Lwazilubanzi runs weekly writing workshops at Gatang Secondary School and has presented at the Science Week 2018 hosted at the German Schools in Pretoria and Johannesburg (in partnership with the Department of Science and Technology) where schools from Mamelodi, Soshanguve, Attridgeville and Soweto were in attendance. Education is an essential tool for growing and building a community, Busisiwe is dedicated to inspiring and making a change in the communities around her. Her poems written in Isizulu are forthcoming in 2019 in a reading pack published by the Department of Education which is prescribed for grade 4 to grade 9 learners in the Gauteng province.
She has shared her poetry across the country including performances at the Naked word Festival (Cape Town, 2017), Open Book Festival (Cape Town, 2017), Words In My Mouth Slam Week (Mpumalanga, 2017), Vavasati International Women’s Festival (Pretoria, 2016), Nirox Words Festival (Johannesburg, 2017), Lead SA Changemakers (Johannesburg, 2017), Poets In Autumn (Johannesburg, 2018), Ram Jam Soul Sundays (Johannesburg,2016) and TEDxPretoria (Pretoria, 2017). Busisiwe was part of the cast of ‘When Poetry Hits The Fan’ (2016) directed by Bobby Gordon and ran for a week at Wits University. In 2016 she staged her poetry production, ‘Rusty Knife’, at the Current State of Poetry at the Joburg theatre assisted by Zewande Bhengu with direction.
Her work was longlisted for the Sol Plaatje European Poetry Award in 2017 and 2018. She is published in Kalahari Review (2017), Ja magazine (2017), Best ‘New’ African poets (2018) and forthcoming in Atlanta Review and Through the single Gal’s looking glass. Her short stories are published on Naane Le Moya as part of her writing residency under the Tuesday Shorts Segments. She holds the following titles in poetry Slams: Slam Champion Jan 2016 Current State of Poetry Open Slam, Winner of Mzansi Poetry Academy’s Another Kinda slam 2017, Winner of the National Library of South Africa Library Week Slam 2017 and the Tshwane Speak Out Loud Youth Poetry Competition Champion 2016/2017. Her achievements in poetry slams have awarded her the privilege of judging poetry slams including The S’gela Sam Slam at the Naked word Festival (Cape Town, 2017), Say Something Slam (Pretoria, 2017) and the 2018 Tshwane Speak Out Loud Knockouts (Pretoria).
Mahlangu was inspired by the jewellery she made for herself for stage and interview appearances to start her business, Busi Creates, where she makes and sells handmade accessories. Busisiwe is currently studying for a BA in Creative Writing majoring in African Languages and Linguistics at the University of South Africa. She is working on her debut poetry collection, ‘Surviving Loss’ which will be published by Impepho Press.