Poet Profile: Siphokazi Jonas

Quaz | February 13th, 2018 | poet profile | No Comments

Siphokazi Jonas holds a Masters degree in English Literature as well as an undergraduate degree in Drama and English. As a writer, performer, and poet, she has written, produced, and performed in three one-woman poetry shows: “Poetry Under the Stars,” “Conspiracy Theory,” and “Wrestling with Dawn.” The latter was recorded live on DVD. In 2016, she produced and performed in a multi-genre theatre production, “Around the Fire,” which was staged at the Artscape Spiritual Festival. The production was written and composed with the music collective, 12 Years A Band, and Siphokazi was nominated for a 2016 Broadwayworld.com South African Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role for the production. “Around the Fire” returns to the Artscape in August 2018.

Jonas has been a featured act at numerous poetry sessions in Cape Town and Johannesburg including, Inzync Poetry Sessions, Expression Session Kuilsriver, Grounding Sessions, Open Book Slam, and CSP Open Sessions. Her experience with spoken word has led to multiple invitations to judge poetry slam competitions in Cape Town and Johannesburg. She has also performed with renowned musicians including, Sipho “Hotstix” Mabuse, Freshlyground, Pops Mohamed, Dizu Plaatjies, Dave Reynolds. Jonas made history in 2016 as the first African poet ever to perform at Rhetoric in Los Angeles, California, the biggest Christian spoken word event in the world.

In 2015, she was crowned as the first Cape Town Ultimate Slam Champion. She has been a featured performer at the Open Book Festival, Naked Word Festival, Word and Sound International Youth Festival, the 21st Poetry Africa Festival, and Abantu Book Festival. In her capacity as a speaker, she has been a contributor to two national conferences, namely, Music Exchange and The Justice Conference South Africa, presenting on issues ranging from writing, arts business, art and activism, and social justice.

Jonas was the runner-up in the prestigious 2016 Sol Plaatje European Union Poetry Award, coming second out of 600 poems submitted nationally. Her work was longlisted again in 2017. Her debut poetry collection is due for publication in 2018. Siphokazi’s engagement with writing and performance extends to the academic field. Until 2017, she worked as a tutor and Teaching Assistant at the University of Cape Town. Here she taught on the history of isiXhosa praise poetry, performance poetry, and South African literature. Further, she runs short-term poetry workshops with schools in Cape Town and Johannesburg and teaches an online spoken word class to a middle school in Gainesville, Florida. She recently launched a workshop series, which focuses on writing and performance which is open to aspiring poets.


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