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.