Poetry competition gives disabled poets a voice

Disabled poets, their family and caregivers have the opportunity to enter the AVBOB poetry competition.

South Africa celebrates National Disability Rights Awareness Month annually for the duration of a month from November 3 to December 3, the latter being International Day of Persons with Disabilities.

A disability is an impairment that may be physical, cognitive, mental, sensory, emotional, developmental, or a combination of these. It may be present from birth or occur during a person’s lifetime.

This year, the SA Federation for Mental Health (SAFMH) will be running the theme ‘In My Own Words’, focusing on self-advocacy and storytelling to amplify the voices of mental healthcare users, with the aim of highlighting the need for inclusion, acceptance and reducing stigma.

During Disability Awareness Month, the AVBOB Poetry Project acknowledges the 5.1% of South Africans over the age of five who live with some form of disability. According to AVBOB, most disabled people don’t have access to adequate healthcare and basic education and are at risk of not being able to secure employment.

Kobus Moolman is a professor of creative writing in the Department of English Studies at the University of the Western Cape and a poetry editor for KwaZulu-Natal Press. He has published eight volumes of poetry and produced a collection of radio plays.

Moolman, who has spina bifida, has written about how disability has shaped his life and work, more decisively than anything else. “It defines me fundamentally. And more and more so each day,” he said.

Moolman says that disabled poets can help to dispel myths and educate readers through their work. Poetry by disabled poets can show society how it needs to change to improve the daily lives of people living with disabilities.

The AVBOB poetry competition encourages people with disability and their carers and family to write in any of the 11 official languages. Register online at www.avbobpoetry.co.za to read the rules and submit your poems before November 30.



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