A coffee house, a cool August evening and inner city lights gleaming like celestial bodies. When you have writers, book lovers and amazing books what more can you ask for in order to have an unforgettable experience in Jo’burg?

Last week we had the opportunity to participate in the first ever Joburg City Festival. Black Letter Media, hosted by founder Duduzile Mabaso, ran a poetry and book reading at Cramers Coffee in the city.

We invited some of our favourite writers and poets who have had work featured on Poetry Potion Every Generation and on our first short story collection The Short Story is Dead, Long Live the Short Story! We invited Saurell Boyers, Treasure Ngobeni, Fasaha Mshairi (HotnyHaze) and Ndaba Sibanda. Ndaba Sibanda was out of the country and therefore unable to make it so he sent Francine to read on his behalf.

Book Lover’s Market popped up to sell some books.

The evening kicked off slowly with a handful of book lovers in the room… The scary thing about operating in the digital world is when you have offline events, you fear no one will turn up. But soon the room started to fill up.

Saurell read her story, My Mother, from The Short Story is Dead, Long Live the Short Story!. Treasure also read, Umsanguluko from the same collection a poem written in Zulu. From Poetry Potion Every Generation, Hazel recited a poem titled Freedom is Coming while Francine read Ndaba Sibanda’s poems From Scars to Stars and Of Condom and Sodom.

Between the readings, our audience was invited to participate in a conversation about books, poetry and publishing. The conversation explored questions like; how does one go about getting their work published? Are South Africans reading as much as they should? What impact has social media had on the quality of writing? And how can we use technology to spread literature as far and wide as possible?

Poet, Kagiso Tshepe, argued that with the emergence of social media, everyone has become a writer, “Every 2 minutes someone is posting something.” He added that in the past writers “wrote stories of the people, for the people and today we only write to inflate our egos.” A point he stressed was that the literary industry is now populated by lazy writers who “post blogs, tweets and Facebook posts and later on they collect all these things and make a book out of them.”

To round off the night, the book lovers were treated to poetry reading from more poets who were in the audience. Poets who added spark to the evening included Kagiso, Sbu, Nkosana.

Balck Letter Media duly, thanks the organisers of the Joburg City Festival, Hlogi, Rendani, Katlego and Cramers for the space. We thank, also, our writers and poets as well as the audience who spent the evening with us.