Posted 9 Dec 2013

in News

Media Release – Call for poetry: The Nelson Mandela International Poetry Tribute

To mourn his death and celebrate his life, we have opened the International Nelson Mandela Poetry Tribute, as a fitting way to gather poetic tributes from around the world in an online collection – accessible to all. We welcome all contributions and would appreciate your support in alerting people to this global poetry initiative.

Nelson Mandela was a man to whom poetry and the poetry of words mattered. There’s the legend of his reading of Invictus to his fellow prisoners on Robben Island, but in every speech Mandela worked language to leverage its impact. He may not have formally published poetry, but Mandela was a poet.

On his death, the US State Department issued a poem by Maya Angelou in memory of Nelson Mandela and there have been earlier tributes by Thabo Mbeki and Tupac Shakur. At his memorial on Tuesday his Grandchildren showed the power of poetry, rousing the crowd with short electric stabs in a call and response tribute to Mandela’s modesty and power.

For the many people who write poetry around the world, an opportunity now exists to contribute their own poetry; to write a poetic tribute on the passing of a great historical figure. Sorrow, Gratitude, Appreciation, Love, Respect… You don’t need to be a poet laureate to take part – and it’s not a competition. It’s about personal responses. What did Nelson Mandela mean to you? How did his message affect the world? What do you feel on learning of his death? What are your personal memories and reflections? Did he inspire you? Maybe you took part, in any small way, to help end apartheid. Or you played an important role… How do you think his legacy will endure?

Nelson Mandela was a global figure who brought a message of reconciliation rather than retribution, despite his own suffering and the nature of the apartheid regime which he’d opposed. It was this that made Nelson Mandela a true inspiration to millions around the world, a man who was prepared to lay down his own life to affect the change needed to rectify the glaring abomination of apartheid.

It is free to post poems at PoetryZoo or simply email poems to and they will be included in the The Anthology .

As the world reacts, we are glad to be able to provide a fitting international tribute in poetry to Nelson Mandela: Madiba, Tata.

Notes to Editors

For further information please contact or or +44(0)7909 527 629

Funded by a Creative Scotland (Scotland’s national arts body) Digital Innovation Award, PoetryZoo is an international poetry platform, capable of supporting any amount of poetry.

PoetryZoo allows people to write, edit and manage their own poetry. We have opened an anthology on the site for all tributes at

Soundfiles and videos can be attached to poems in the ‘publishing settings’

Examples of poetry already submitted:

The Enemy – by RB Campbell,

Heroes by Juan David – originally from Colombia, Florida, United States

On Learning of the Death of Nelson Mandela – by Gillian K Ferguson, Scotland, United Kingdom

Grace by Helen Fletcher – England, United Kingdom

A Walk with Nelson Mandela – by Mark Butkus, United States

Madiba is Fallen by Alvin Kathembe

46664 – by Moira Delandes, Willunga, South Australia

True Torch – by Aniruddha Sastiker

I Know You – by Gail Gilbride Bohle

A Vigil for Two Fathers in their 95th Year – by Hamish Danks Brown

Sula Inyembezi – by Jim Hyde, Dublin, Ireland

SPOKEN WORD – Nelson Mandela by Sabez, London, England, United Kingdom – link at

by The PoetryZoo Keeper