Kagiso Tshepe’s writing is quite difficult to describe. We’ll simply say its beautifully mystical and even enchanting at times.
“Now performance, this is where the writing moves from the writer to other entities, the writer dies and the teller lives, this to me only happens when the poem from its raw state has worked with me, said all, healed or destroyed me, I never take out a poem that hasn’t either given me life of killed me.” – Kagiso Tshepe
1. Your style of writing is often described as abstract, surreal and at times ‘dark’. How would you describe your own style?
*sigh* Definitions. I would first acknowledge that at least someone out there takes time to think about my writing till a point of definition. There is no denying that I’m from a peculiar, almost benighted background of story telling and was inspired by abstract, surreal and mystic texts. This has been a great source of inspiration for someone who possesses nothing of the knowledge of what is ‘real’. I would however classify my style of writing as Magical Realism, because, though fictitious, there’s an obscure reality that I pack in the writing, recessive to the willing ear.
2. Do you find it difficult to balance being a writer, performer and a graphic designer?
It was quite tricky in the beginning because the three art forms would somehow forcefully intersect, where I would be designing and a poem would descend and interrupt the visual art. However with acknowledging that all faculties are part of me and my purpose (if this doesn’t denote any self centered interpretation), so through the years I have managed to hear when one calls and answer only to that at a time. But this is fun, I must say. A great awe overwhelms me often upon witnessing the faces of poetry that reveal themselves in my designs. It is so cool!
3. What can we expect from your showcase on Saturday?
Initially this was conceptualised to be a ‘redemption’ performance, I thought I would want to used this platform to exhale the enigmas that I have been experiencing, I thought it would be a show to break the agony walls within me. But with the date crawling closer, I realised that I will only be attempting to justify my impermanent sufferings, which would then render me a pity poet…So the idea has evolved to magical, to Truth, to fun, perpetual euphoria, it is now about Love, Dreams and cool things. 🙂 So expect all the above mentioned. Not pain and tears.
4. Do you put as much effort in performance as you do in writing a piece?
Writing has its own time and power, this is the magical part of my life! The tears that happen in this process, the joy! Now performance, this is where the writing moves from the writer to other entities, the writer dies and the teller lives, this to me only happens when the poem from its raw state has worked with me, said all, healed or destroyed me, I never take out a poem that hasn’t either given me life of killed me. For me performance is about the people, I’m done with the god within and I become then the evangelist. There is no compromising whatsoever here, I perform and say things the way I would like to hear them. I visualize a poet that would still or steal my spirit, then relive that enchanting experience that so graced me in my solitude. They are both cool things.
5. What has been your most favorite performance on the Word N Sound stage
Maaan! I have seen Magic embodied and enunciated on the Word N Sound stage, from my good friend Conelius Jones, Mutle Mothibe, Andrew Manyika, Kabelo Kilobyte, Sir Alexander, Rantoloko Molokwane, maaan! How can I forget Ntate Thabo Manoto, that was one of the best performances I’ve seen this year, to the sisters, the queens, I have inhaled, back to my head, my hair straying to unnamed realms during many performances on this stage. This is POWER! Really cool.
6. “It took us the whole day to discover the night”, this is a line from one of your poems, what was the inspiration behind this particular line?
We were astronomers once, our minds sharp with the names of the stars and their emotions, we knew the moon and sun by name, but never the time that governs our perception of life. This was a line about how ‘enlightened’ one can perceive and even believe themselves to be, however failing to decipher the macrocosm of simple things. We are indeed smart, but things such as pride, egocentrics, shame, money, friendship and others, still play a mock of us. Moreover, those who know tend to think they have a special position in life. Oh The Absurdity of it all *smh*…so yah…this is fun, and cool too.
7. Which performer have you always wanted to share a stage with and why?
By the tender arms of fortune, I have been able to share this Magic of a thing with many spirits I regard as great. But my highlight here would be sharing the whole show with my Channelmen, Sibusiso Simelane and Itani wa Mbira as Basic Channel. A beautiful Brotherhood. I would however like to fuse most of the Brothers in the WnS family within one poem, this would be POWER!
8. Outside of poetry, what else inspires you?
I’m greatly inspired by many forms of art, from photography, music, pencil sketches, to observing different oblivious bodies in public spaces. But the greatest of all is gospel music, this for me is King! If I’m not reciting a poem, I’m singing a hymn. Cool much!
9. What are you thoughts on the current state of Joburg poetry?
Yoh, the poetry in Johannesburg is so massive! I was immensely impressed by the Power I saw at the last show from new faces, they have so much creativity and performance. The heads (I call them heads, the elders) their evolution each show is Magical! I think if we can grow so much as to a point of utilizing the media that is in our world right now we would see how great the art is within us here in Johannesburg. If more videos could be uploaded on the internet and poems recorded and posted abroad, this will not only be a revelation to just South Africa but the whole world. I respect every single poet or writer that exhibits their work in this jungle of an area in terms of the arts. It is not easy, but they have found portals through which this art breathes and lives. Power!
10. If you could change anything with just your words, what would it be?
Whoa! Such a giant of a question. I’m not one to speak of Love or even have poems around this phenomenon, this is because words have found a way to belittle this divine principle. If one day I wake up to a reality where I can speak of Love, I would really like to shift the many entangled perceptions of Love as we now know it (mind you I don’t know its primitive state, also). The theory of relativity is not cool (no offense to sir Albert) for this reason this universe of ours has been so much fragmented by the many definitions and interpretations of Love, of Oneness, of this God of a thing…if I could, I would take all these gods and make them One.
Interview by Sibusiso Simelane