Toni Stuart is a South African poet, performer and spoken word educator. She was born in Cape Town in 1983, and grew up in the city. Her poetry has been published in: Looking Back, Going Forward: Young Voices on Freedom (British Council, STE Publishers, 2004), The Ground’s Ear (QuickFox Publishing, 2011), the Sol Plaatje EU Poetry Prize Anthology (Jacana Media, 2013), In the Heat of Shadows, South African Poetry 1996-2013 (Deep South Publishing), the McGregor Poetry Festival Anthology 2013 (Africa Sun Press), Illuminations 32, Summer Issue (The Rathasker Press, 2017) and in the non-fiction titles: Facing Feelings in Faith Communities, William Kondrath (Alban, 2013) and the Agenda Journal on Teenage Fertility and Desire (Unisa Press and Routledge, 2011).
Since 2003 she has been performing her work, both solo and in collaboration with other poets and with musicians. She was part of the And the Word Was Woman poetry ensemble, founded by Malika Ndlovu, from 2004 -2007. Her performances include, a group show at the Paris Autumn Festival 2013 (as part of France South Africa Seasons 2012/2013); the poetry installation Here To Listen (London, 2015); poetry & film exhibition From My View, with filmmaker Shelley Barry (South Africa, 2013); Stretching Silence with visual artist Firdous Hendricks (South Africa, 2013); sound installation Between Words and Images with curator & visual artist, Ernestine White (South Africa, 2013).
In 2014 she was part of the Scottish Poetry Library’s Commonwealth Poets United exchange, travelling to Scotland and Northern Ireland to share her work. In 2016, she collaborated with South African filmmaker, Kurt Orderson, to create an audio-visual installation of her work, Krotoa-Eva’s Suite – a cape jazz poem in three movements. The piece was part of the exhibition Re(as)sisting Narratives which showed at Framer Framed Gallery in Amsterdam, and The District Six Homecoming Centre in Cape Town. In 2016 and 2017, she collaborated with flamenco company, dotdotdot dance, on a piece entitled I Come To My Body As A Question, which showed at Sadler’s Wells Theatre in London and The Lowry in Manchester.
She is one half of the poetry/music duo Gertrude & Jemima, with UK poet & drummer Remi Graves. Their performances include The Walthamstow Garden Party (London, 2016), Africa Utopia at the Southbank Centre (London, 2017) and ArtArctica Festival (Helsinki, 2017), as well as What the Trees Know (Cape Town, 2018).
She was the founding curator of Poetica, at Open Book Festival in Cape Town, South Africa, from 2013 – 2014. In 2013 she was named in the Mail and Guardian’s list of 200 inspiring Young South Africans. She has an MA Writer/Teacher (Distinction) from Goldsmiths, University of London, where she was a 2014/2015 Chevening Scholar.
She lives in Cape Town and works between her home city and London. She is particularly interested in collaborations between poetry and other art-forms. As a facilitator, she has used poetry as a tool for discussions around reconciliation and identity, HIV/Aids, gender-based violence and other social issues. In addition to this, she runs the artist’s call: one-on-one mentorship and support, for artists and people in all careers/lines of work, supporting them to discover what their life’s work and purpose is, and how to go about taking that up in practical ways.