TAXI POETRY: From Fiction to Reality

Thursday, 30 May, 2013 - 17:30

 WiSER and the Goethe-Institut invite you to

TAXI POETRY: From Fiction to Reality

Speakers include: Imraan Coovadia, Zen Marie, Karabo Kgoleng and a Taxi Poet

Refreshments will be served

Wednesday, 29th May 2013
6pm – 7:30pm

WiSER Seminar Room,
6th Floor, Richard Ward Building,
East Campus, Wits University


In 2012, South African writer Imraan Coovadia published a novel called The Institute for Taxi Poetry.  The book is about imaginary taxi poets, who stencil their poems onto the surfaces of minibuses.  These poems, writes Coovadia, are about looking into things which other people won’t, or don’t,  but which are patently obvious.  Nobody can predict the future of the taxi poem, he adds, “It might be as transitory as the career of a summer’s fly, or it might remain in circulation for a season, a decade or a day of Brahma”, far longer than the Hi Ace on which it was stencilled. In Coovadia’s novel, taxi poetry emerges in  Cape Town -  a city now run by Croatian disco men from Zagreb and Malay gangsters from Pinelands, by publicity girls wearing long earrings, by dollar millionaires with business connections to the ruling Congress Party, by old Troskyites and Bukharinites, and by cabinet ministers and dictators from elsewhere  - but it’s going global - licensed by Brazilian companies, it is reproduced on Sao Paulo buses.  Now, in a move that turns fiction into reality, the Goethe Institut, working with Sarah Nuttall and Imraan Coovadia initially and then with Zen Marie and Karabo Kgoleng, have convened a project which puts poetry on taxis in Johannesburg.  Poets and taxi drivers were invited to collaborate on this project, which soon took a few unexpected turns.

This event, convened by WiSER and the Goethe Institut, presents and explores the Taxi poetry project that has resulted in poetry being written for and placed on 70 taxis in Johannesburg over the last few weeks.  Using film footage of the project, the event will include a reading by Coovadia from his novel, a presentation of the taxi poetry, a talk by a taxi poet, and a set of reflections by the convenors of the project.