Call for Poetry Submissions

Arts and Creative Industries

History and Imagined Reality – Poetry from South Africa

Call for Submissions

The French Institute of South Africa is very happy to partner with the publishing house impepho press and Poetry Africa Festival, to organise a call for poetry submissions, with the support of Total South Africa. Young poets from South Africa are invited to submit poems under the theme ‘Archiving of Imaginary Stories’. Poems will be selected by a jury of experts from the poetry scene, including Tshefhiwa Mukwevho, Nakanjani Sibiya, Toni Stuart and Makhosazana Xaba.

The selected poems will be part of a poetry collection published by the French Institute and impepho press Publishing House. It’s a unique opportunity for young poets to promote their work and gain visibility by having their poems showcased in a poetry anthology. Selected poets will participate in a specially curated programme at the 2020 online edition of Poetry Africa, organised by the Centre for Creative Arts (UKZN).

The publishing of this poetry book also comes within the framework of the Africa 2020 Season in France, a pan-African and multidisciplinary cultural season designed to enable greater understanding of the world from an African perspective. The Season is to take place in France between December 2020 and July 2021.


Poem submission theme

All poems should speak to the theme ‘Archiving of Imaginary Stories’, which is one of the topics of Africa 2020 cultural season. The poems could be inspired by the following questions extracted from Africa 2020, but poets should feel free to interpret the theme in their own creative way.
– How do our personal, family, national, regional, and continental narratives relate to the history of the world? How do we identify missing narratives in these existing stories?
– Through which lenses is history portrayed and what vehicles are used to convey it?
– How is memory passed on and for what purposes? What can we learn from the past?
– What do we do with our personal records? What will the billions of audio and text messages, e-mails, social media accounts and websites say about the state of humanity in the 21st century?
Questions such as these are important to all of us and form the backbone of what we hope to engage with through this project.


Submissions Open: 12 August 2020
Submissions Close: 3 September 2020
Email submissions to:

Rules: General

1. The competition is open to anyone between the ages of 18 and 30 currently residing in South Africa.
2. The closing date of the competition is midnight 3 September 2020 (CAT).
3. Each entrant may submit up to three poems in a single entry. Entrants are only permitted one entry.
4. Entries may be in any of South Africa’s official languages
5. All submissions will be considered anonymously by the judges.
6. Under no circumstances can alterations be made to poems once entered.
7. Entries will be accepted via email and entrants will receive confirmation of submission.
8. Email submissions to the following address:
9. The judges’ decision is final.

Rules: Poems

1. Poems must be submitted on Word doc, as an attachment.
2. All entries are judged anonymously and the poet’s name must not appear on the poem itself.
3. All poems must have a title.
4. All submissions must be 12 point font size New Times Roman and must not exceed 180 lines/3 pages in length (including title).
5. Poems must be the entrant’s original work.
6. All poems must be written in any of South Africa’s official languages
7. Entries must not have been published, self-published, published on a website or made public on social media, broadcast or featured among the winners in another competition before.

Selected Poems

1. Selected poems will be announced at Poetry Africa 2020.
2. Selected poems will be part of a poetry collection published by the French Institute of South Africa and impepho press.
3. Selected poets will be invited to participate in a specially curated programme at Poetry Africa 2020.
4. All authors of selected poems will be expected to provide a biography and a portrait photograph together with the details of anyone who needs to be credited for the photograph.
5. The copyright of each poem remains with the author. However, authors of the winning poems, by entering the competition, grant the French Institute of South Africa the right in perpetuity to publish and/or broadcast their poem.
6. In the case of translation of a poem into English, the poet will need to be available to work with the translator if necessary.
7. Authors of selected poems will be awarded R4000 in total.

Application Details
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