Poetree Publications was established in November 2011; repositioned and rebranded from the initial business efforts of SWEET CENTRE (Spoken Word Events, Entertainment and Training). From 2008 SWEET CENTRE operated as an arts events company, creating promotional and performance opportunities for artists in the Eastern Cape region. The company formed durable relationships with local municipal departments, which expanded these platforms and avenues within the corporate sector as well as mainstream events and festivals of the Bay area. SWEET hosted numerous events that incorporated the various genres of visual and performing arts. These events ranged from jazz and poetry evenings to dance and visual art exhibitions; and a regular stage production called Meet Me by the Poetree ©. Artists and participants engaged in both formal and informal variations of entertainment functions; this emanating from the goal of the company: to assist artists in their efforts to reach larger audiences, gain access to financial support and training facilities to develop their crafts, and provide wholesome entertainment within the communities of these artists. The company also acted as the bridge between artists and the private/ corporate environment, promoting artists for hire, or as an agent to artists selling their tangible artistic creations (painting, ceramic arts, etc.). SWEET CENTRE hosted its most significant event, The PE Summer Arts Fair, in December 2010. This culturally rich festival incorporated all forms of artistic expression over a 3-day period with the support and sponsorship from the Nelson Mandela Metro and local businesses including Coca Cola, Redbull, The Beach Hotel and Nuance Beauty Spa. Initially presumed “too ambitious”, the event compromised of a successful fashion show, art exhibition, and a music and poetry show. Participants of the Summer Arts Fair went on to form their own business relations from the networking opportunities they were privy to during the event: from permanent performing contracts to regular marketing campaigns in newspapers and magazines in the Metro.
Thereafter, SWEET CENTRE maintained a focus on Meet Me by the Poetree, a stage production incorporating drama and the original poetry of the artists involved in the production. The production was hosted at different venues around the Nelson Mandela Bay, but more regularly at NMMU and the Savoy Theatre.
From this project stemmed the concept of Poetree Publications – the idea formulated to gather the works performed by the poets and publish their writing in a formal manner.
The company has, to date (2011-2020), published 23 titles in print and digital format, ranging from poetry to children’s literature, novella to multi-genre anthologies. Strong relationships with independent bookshops around the country has enabled writers to find a position in the literature market as well as earn an added income from book sales. Poetree has also forged significant collaborations with other international entities which offer avenues and support to the initiative of the expansion of African literature around the world.