“There is always a piece of me in my creative writing and my reference points are what anchor, and these include the spaces I live in, the cultures that birthed me” – Kojo Baffoe
WORD N SOUND: You have an interesting history when it comes to geography. How have your links with Ghana, Lesotho, Germany and South Africa influenced you as an artist?
KOJO BAFFOE: Every aspect of my journey and my life influences me as an artist because what I create is a reflection of me. There is always a piece of me in my creative writing and my reference points are what anchor, and these include the spaces I live in, the cultures that birthed me, the knowledge and experiences I gain daily.
Having been involved in the spoken word scene for over 10 years, what do you feel is the current state of poetry in SA and how do you feel about it?
To be honest, I don’t really know what the current state of poetry in SA is. I haven’t been involved in a couple of years.
It has been a while since we last saw you on stage. What have you been busy with?
Living life. I’ve always believed that, in addition to reading and writing regularly, the poet should also live. I guess one could say I’ve been living and creating new reference points, experiences, etc. This has included raising my children, working for a magazine and focusing on other styles of writing.
What has made you want to get back on the performance poetry stage?
I don’t know if it is about wanting to get back on performance poetry stage. I was always more comfortable with the idea of writing and being read than jumping onto a stage. I consider myself a reluctant performer. I had to learn nuances and techniques like rhythm, tone, volume, mic control, etc. Would generally prefer for others to read my work although I do understand that some poems are for the page and some for the stage. Can I say that Afura bullied me into performing? I’ll decide whether to start doing it more often after Word N Sound.
What do you miss most about the Horror Café/Cool Runnings days of poetry?
I miss walking into Jungle Connection and discovering that you could get up on stage, mumble some poetry and there’d be an audience. Other than that, time passes, we evolved, priorities change. I am grateful for having been a part of things like Deja Funk, Bassline (originally in Melville), Cool Runnings, Horror Cafe, Shivava, and other venues around the city but I don’t miss much. They were for that time.
And what don’t you miss at all?
See previous question. I will say, though, I don’t miss waiting 3 hours to get on stage at open mics.
You have a very strong digital presence and are active on social media platforms. How is this important for you as a writer and artist?
For me, they are other platforms for communicating and for writing. My blogs were an opportunity to write regularly and share content. Social media is great for understanding people and society, for story ideas, for debate and engagement, for the sharing of thoughts, etc.
What do you think the role of poetry is in our society?
I used to think I had the answer to this. I don’t know anymore. I do think the arts, in general, tap into the collective soul of society. They are a reflection, a discussion, a debate, a provocation, an activation, etc.
What advice do you have for the current generation of active poets?
Write, read and recognise that there is no end destination. Experience. Kabomo once said, poetry does not lend itself to celebrity. I believe this. Don’t do it for fame. Respect the craft. Revel in it. Set yourself a high standard. Don’t take shortcuts. Good luck.
What can we expect from your showcase?
This question assumes I am ready, which I’m not. 🙂 Expect to join me in reflecting on my previous life as a poet and the poems that I lived.