Press release: Cradock video series promotes resilience in tough times

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Melinda Smit (photo provided)

As a valuable aid for teachers struggling to keep their students engaged throughout the hardships of COVID-19, filming is underway in Cradock for a 12-part video series promoting creativity, critical thinking and communication in virtual classrooms across South Africa.

“These skills are imperative to surviving and thriving in our new world,” says Melina Smit, creator/director of the videos which are being produced in The AVBOB Poetry Pop-Up Teaching and Learning Studio as a free online resource for educators and learners.

The series is a 100% product of the Eastern Cape Midlands, from conception through to final production – a joint effort of the Schreiner Karoo Writers Festival (SKWF), The AVBOB Poetry Project and Skills for Life Projects.

“While only in its third year, the AVBOB Poetry Project continues to gather momentum and grow, and still manages to surprise and delight us with its ongoing outreach and evolution,” explains AVBOB’s CEO, Carl van de Riet. “We currently have a free online bereavement resource of over 10 000 original poems available at, crafted by South Africans for South Africans, in their time of grief; we have a community of engaged poets who are speaking to each other in their mother tongues and who, through the competition, have seen their words and their languages validated and championed. And, more importantly, we have found a language – the language of poetry – which connects us all.”

“We salute The AVBOB Poetry Project for joining hands with us out here in the Karoo,” said SKWF organiser, Lisa Ker. “Cradock has always bubbled over with human potential and, with a partner like The AVBOB Poetry Project, we can unlock the richness that lies within our people.”

Stimulating growth within the restrictions of 2020, the new video series will enable an unlimited number of arts, life skills and language educators and learners to benefit from the project – not just once-off but over the coming months and years.

Topics range from the importance of finding your unique voice, vocabulary, reading for meaning, getting words on paper, breaking creative block, writing as a group, writing lyrics and performing a poem, to the therapeutic value of mindfully creating. At the same time, short clips of readings by favourite poets are also released.

The videos (released at one week intervals for 12 weeks) are shared with educators within the Eastern Cape and made available for free use on The AVBOB Poetry Project’s YouTube channel. Videos released to date can be viewed here:.

While the series is being filmed, there will be quiet times in The AVBOB Poetry Pop-Up Studio when it will be available (on application) for educators to use for recording their own additional material. To make arrangements, please write to [email protected].

The fourth AVBOB Poetry Competition is currently open for entries in all 11 languages at, and closes on 30 November 2020.


The win-win relationship between the SKWF and The AVBOB Poetry Project dates back to 2018 – an auspicious year when AVBOB celebrated its centenary. Etienne van Heerden and Coenie de Villiers introduced the SKWF and The AVBOB Poetry Project and a working relationship was established with the shared vision of creative education.

That same year, a pilot programme saw 60 learners from three mother-tongue groups participate in two days of dynamic workshops with seasoned poetry coaches. The closing presentation was an explosion of joy, energy and talent.

Building on this success to increase the reach and benefits to learners, 2019 saw the activation of a new arts convergence programme, this time for educators who could return to their posts and share with greater numbers of learners.

Smit is active in both the SKWF and Skills for Life: she is a specialist in curriculum management and support for creative arts, life skills and life orientation, and also a writer, poet, singer and theatre-maker.

The provisional date for the next Schreiner Karoo Writers Festival is 22 to 24 November 2020.

For more information, contact:

Dirk de Vynck [email protected]


Catherine Knox: [email protected]

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