Bay Creative Writing Development Project – Helenvale Poets



The Helenvale poets have emerged as a group of writers working under the auspices of the Bay Creative Writing Development Project (BCWDP), a project implemented through the Southern Africa Development, Research and Training (SADRAT) Institute since 2011. The project is designed to allow participants to use the artistic, written word to explore and question their surroundings, and to find their place and voice. It is designed to develop poetry writing skills, understanding of poetry, of writing processes including editing, of book production and also of the marketplace and entrepreneurship. Thus, life skills are merged with artistic expression.

Lesson learnt from this project has inspired the Helenvale art project to apply and use similar methods to extract children and adolescents thoughts and aspirations and to integrate it into a public art accessible to the community.

The Helenvale poets live in Helenvale, Port Elizabeth, which is a vibrant, but crime-torn, poverty struck area. For participants, the project offers a meditative, creative and productive space that one member has described as “therapeutic”. Participants work on and develop their verbal art products with the help of mentors.

In due course the BCWDP, which is constituted by the core team members, wish to develop enough products to start to move towards an entrepreneurial model, perhaps a co-operative, which has writing and writing skills (community newsletter, CV writing, poetry, printing and photography) at its centre.

Thus, although we are moving into our fourth year of existence (largely due to support from the NAC), we are still in a building phase.

Digterwordend – Leonie Williams


kyk ek rond

na die wind se waai

oor die ongeskoffelde grond;

na die jong, swanger meisie

wat soos ʼn duif



en die man-met-die-een-been

aan die oorkant van die pad

wat sy kop agteroor gooi

van die lag –

en onwetend haar noodkreet verlig.

Die arm kind – Dennis Fillis

Haar tinger lyfie

is geklee in flenters

wat die koue van die dag

aan haar liggaam


met hare gekoek

en moddervuil handjies

kleef sy aan ’n appel

half geëet

en kyk grootoog na my:

my klip hart kwyn

en ek buig my hoof –

tot die prinsessie geklee

in swaarkry.

Old Bucket – Shanice du Preez

 an old plastic bucket

lonely and so colourful

big and round

scratched underneath from use

but as full of water

as my life is of love

Kindwees Byron Armoed

In armoede staar hy na my,

skreefoë teen die hittige son

Vuil veters omhels sy stukkende tekkies,

sy rooi t-hempie reeds te klein

vir sy lyfie

Hy lig vyf liter water met sy handjies

en die massa van drie-wees

rus swaar op sy skouers:


is hom vroeg reeds opgelê

Noisy day – Ignatius Corduroy




vehicles hoot

and children scream

till the sun

going down

carts off the noise.

Women’s strength – Denise Fillis

A woman  is strong,

her strength  without limits,

maturing with each  ordeal

she  faces:

her  heart


yet fragile.

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