As a 14-year-old girl living in the little town Kuruman in the Northern Cape, Adelaide January discovered the only thing she could find solace in was her poetry.
Since then she’s never stopped writing, and now runs a poetry organisation to help other people find their way through words.
“Not many opportunities were available for poets in my town while growing up, besides being part of school plays and taking part in local competitions,” she says. “My love for poetry grew over the years and I started using my notebooks as my places of safety. Writing poetry makes me disappear into a world where only I am in control of what happens next.”
In 2013 she realised that many other potential poets growing up in her town were facing the same challenges. “I decided to do something about and that’s when I started a poetry movement called Kurara Wordsmiths (KWS) where we host poetry sessions free of charge to provide a platform for young poets to showcase their talents to the community.”
KWS has hosted several successful shows, with the most recent event fielding five poets from Johannesburg.
The poetry sessions also keep the youth off the streets and expose the participants to potential sponsors, January says. The department of arts and culture recently spotted some talented poets at the sessions and invited them to take part in a regional writers’ festival.
Her movement has also started a dictionary campaign to help disadvantaged kids by supplying them with dictionaries to spark a love of words. Another venture is an online readers’ club for the Kuruman youth, to hopefully promote a culture of buying and reading books again.
Next, January is aiming to organise writers’ workshops to help local poets improve their writing skills, explore ways of publishing their work and understand copyright laws.
“In the future I would like to see the brand growing into our surrounding areas in the Northern Cape and being able to collaborate with other provinces,” she says.
On a personal level, the 24-year-old is preparing a studio album and working to finish a diploma in public relations.
You can listen to her reciting two poems, Letter to the Unknown 1 and 2, under her performing name Ada_Lady on SoundCloud. — Lesley Stones