Monthly Archives: October 2013

3rd annual Poetry and Live Music Festival promises a feast of words


WHAT:           3rd Annual Word N Sound International Youth Poetry + Live Music Festival feat. Natalia Molebatsi, Afurakan Mohare, Mutle Mothibe, Nova Masango, Bongeziwe Mabandla and lots more.

WHEN:           27 – 30 November 2013

WHERE:         Cape Town – The District Six Homecoming Centre, 15A Buitenkant Street, Cape Town
Johannesburg – Market Theatre Laboratory, Bus Factory, 3 President Str, Johannesburg

TICKETS:       R50 – R100 at the door

The final week of November 2013 will mark a highlight of the South African Poetry calendar, as the 3rd Annual Word N Sound International Youth Poetry + Live Music Festival gets underway.

Word N Sound presents the premiere poetry showcase in all of Johannesburg, however, for their third festival, they are taking it onto an inter-provincial scale. Adding a Cape Town leg to the Johannesburg based Festival, the four day spoken word feast kicks off at the District Six Homecoming Centre where local poets will share a stage with Catherine Labiran and Harry Baker from the United Kingdom. This will be the first year the Festival expands to another city.

The Festival then moves to Johannesburg to set Newtown ablaze. On the 29th and 30th of November, some of the best local and international music and poetry acts will converge at the Market Theatre Laboratory in Newtown.

Friday | 29 November
Aptly named “Poetry Is” the evening show will feature the talents of Natalia Molebatsi, Mutle Mothibe, Nova Masango amongst others with a musical showcase by Bongeziwe Mabandla. Doors open at 18:30. Admission is R100.

Saturday | 30 November
After eight months of intense competition in the Word N Sound Open Mic Poetry League, 5 of Joburg’s most exciting emerging spoken word talent will vie for the coveted 2013 Word N Sound Open Mic Champion title. The top five contenders for this year are Mandi Poefficient Vundla, NoLIFE; Elysium Garcia, Mapule Mohulatsi and Lucas Pilgrim Serei. Catherine Labiran will be the showcase poet of the day. Doors open at 12:00. Admission is R50.

That evening plays host to the second instalment of Poetry Is featuring Mbali Vilakazi, Conelius Jones, Harry Barker and Dikson  from the Shoko Festival Zimbabwe. Doors open at 18:00. Admission is R100.

The 3rd Annual Word N Sound International Youth Poetry + Live Music Festival is brought to you in partnership with: British Council Connect ZA, Live Mag SA, Bozza Mobile, Samro Foundation, Rora and Black Letter Media.

Catherine Labiran and Harry Baker’s visit marks the beginning of a relationship between Word N Sound and The Roundhouse, a leading cultural organisation in the UK. Facilitated by British Council Connect ZA, the partnership aims at exploring how the two organisations can learn from and support each other.


Earlier this year Elysium Garcia performed a moving piece called “Manufacturing Kings”. He dedicated the poem to Word N Sound’s Good Good Inc. which seeks to help schools in townships build their own libraries.

Why did you decide to dedicate your poem to Do Good? What is it about the project that touched you so deeply?

From when I received and understood the course of the initiative, something burned inside of me. More than excitement, I went back to my childhood and remembered how challenging it was to be the 62nd pupil in a classroom flooding with hopelessness and the inability to dream beyond the predetermined destiny of street corners and second-hand contentment of an uncomfortable reality. I remembered how impossible it is to have goals when you have no idea of where to even begin. I was one of the four kids that shared one text book. A library was a room where torn and outdated books are stored, we didn’t know it for any other purpose. It was till after my matric year that I saw people walking into a library to read or study. All those memories were evoked when I realized the magnitude of Do Good Inc. I thought of how well some of us would have grown up to be if there were, amidst that inherent suffering, such initiatives then. Sadly, though I speak of it as a distant memory, it is still happening to most South African children. Children sent to school only as a standard procedure of life and not necessarily for education. This ghost of my past is a continuous present to a lot of children right now. So upon hearing about Do Good Inc, a new hope arose in me, I saw that suffering already ending and new kings being born.

Please tell us about the poem itself. What was the writing process like? What research went into the piece? And what core message did you want the audience to walk away with?

The writing demanded a lot of digging into my childhood and tempering with stories I had long forgotten and found unnecessary to bring into my current reality. But acknowledging my course as a poet and putting aside the ideas I always want to write about, I found it immensely imperative for me to carry this message through. I knew that I wouldn’t be happy to hear my story being told by someone else, a person with no idea at all of how consuming it is to truly be in that space. So I went in. I also went out to a larger scale of a suffering outside the school yard, I observed it from infancy to when the children have grown with that agony into their adulthood. Some are experiences I haven’t particularly obtained myself, but I have always seen in the generations before me. My dream about the poem was to awaken in the audience the importance of educating children and putting to sleep the idea of fighting for things we will never ever get or get back as black people if we believe in the force of muscles and chanting outside some offices or in the streets unless we deploy better fighting methods, which in this regard is raising an informed people (the undiscovered kings) ours is to awaken the giants and discover the kings that are hidden by the lack of education in these kids. In us.

The photography was deeply moving. How did that idea come about? Where did you source the images?

Most of the poem was written by the photographs, the idea of the poem was very small and I didn’t trust much into it. But as I discovered these photographs I felt a great need to give them a voice. Surely they say a thousand times more than my words, which is why I needed their help to tell my story or express my idea of Do Good Inc in a much more comprehensible and perhaps moving manner. I found the photos from a variety of blogs on the internet, I have blogged some myself. There’s a gigantic world of endless information out there waiting to be discovered. The reason why initiatives such as Do Good Inc are so important.

What other campaigns/projects/initiatives would you like to see Do Good Inc being a part of in the future?

Growth! I would like to see the big corporations that have been given the power and all resources to do such things marveling in astonishment upon the greatness of Do Good Inc and not understanding how it came about. And then join in just with their resources. I see Do Good Inc growing to a level where we have tutors that parents trust more than school teachers. Where through Do Good Inc, South Africa and the whole of Africa awakens to the knowledge that educating a child is more important and more glorious than creating a dance show on TV.


…back to The Shadows.


Interview: Mutle takes over Cardiff

Mutle Mothibe is currently all the way in Cardiff representing the Word N Sound fam and South African poetry at the Takeover Cardiff. Takeover Cardiff  will see major cultural venues in the city handed over to young people to curate, develop and participate in programmes to engage their peers, showcasing new and emerging Welsh and international talent!


We caught up before he left to find out what he’d be up to.

Tell us about your trip to Cardiff. What will you be up to and how did you get involved.
In Cardiff I’ll be part of the Cardiff Takeover happening Saturday the 12th. It’s an event where music and poetry will be exhibited at a museum for the public to experience what the youth is capable of. Also will be part of a team facilitating workshops for a group of 10-15 people aged 18-25 from disadvantaged backgrounds and they will also be part of the show on the 12th.

I was recommended to British Council by Afurakan to go to Cardiff and it’s been a funny journey so far in terms of getting papers sorted and getting briefed for the actual trip.

What are you looking forward to the most?
I’m looking forward to a lot of things actually, first time being on a plane, being overseas, new people, cultures, tasting their different kinds of FOOD, different people I’ll meet, pics I’ll take of places I’ll explore…I feel like I’m looking forward to too many things.

What are you hoping to learn? What are you hoping to teach?
I’m hoping to learn more about the kids we’ll be working with and in the process learn about myself. I’m hoping to teach people as much as possible about my take on spoken word.

How do you see local poets benefiting from partnerships?
Oooh other than traveling (which I wholeheartedly appreciate), tapping into different spaces, new sources of inspiration and somewhat nerve wrecking challenges? I think we also get the opportunity to be instruments that transform art into something WAY different than any of us could have imagined. We have different backgrounds, takes, perceptions and gelling together to create something totally new is the amazing part of this process.

Mutle has already started working on projects with the amazing people he’s meet so far. Remember the poem that won him the King of the Mic title 2 months ago? Well he’s just taken Justin to another level, check this out:

Is this your first trip out of the country? Where else would you like to travel to?
Yes it’s my first time traveling outside our borders. I’m really drawn to Zimbabwe, New York and Swaziland as places I’d want visit with spoken word as the driving force.

Mutle will be performing at 4pm at The National Museum Cardiff.

Check out The Scribble Emporium for another cool interview he’s done while in Cardiff.

… In #WordNSound / British Council / GrassRoots we trust!…

Interview: Slam For Your Life

This Saturday six of the most exciting poets from the new crop of Jo’burg poetry talent will take to the stage to do battle. Slam For Your Life will see Conelius Jones, Mandi Poefficient Vundla, Elysium Garcia, No Life, Andrew Manyika and Mpho Khosi do just that…slam for their lives.

1380148_4743940576924_1396061693_nPhotographer: Philiani Hadebe | Designer: Kagiso Tshepe

Sidenote: Big up to your team, this was one
of the most exciting visual campaign for
any event we’ve seen in…forever really.
The photography, design and concept is
on point. Salute!)

We caught up with three of them ahead of this ultimate clash of the poetry titans.

1. Name 3 reasons why you will be winning the slam. What makes you better than the competition?
Andrew: #1 I write like there’s no box to think outside of; #2 in the not so famous words of Daniel Day-Lewis in “There Will Be Blood” – “There is a competition in me, I want no-one else to win.” #3 And of course, I’m “Concept, The Ideas Man”

Mandi: 1. Everything is possible. 2. I am possible and because 3. I’ve grown remarkably from slams

Mpho: Why I will win, it’s in the rounds themselves. Round 1 is the incorporation of music with poetry and I feel I have been able to do that very well and can go on beyond this round. Round 2 is for theatrical pieces, I write mostly narrative poems which are easier to adopt for theatre. Round 3, slam, I may not be the “talk of the town” slammer, but I have proven that when pitted against the best, I can bring my own.

2. Who is your toughest competitor and why?
Mandi: I am my own toughest competitor. This competition is about challenging myself more than challenging others. Can I be better at this than what I already am?

Andrew: Oh these are some of the best slammers in the country, so it’s hard to pick just one. I feel like I’m going into this as the underdog, and I’m very good with those odds, they’ve always worked for me.

Mpho: Here everyone is tough competition; this is because the slam is designed in a way that allows everyone to show off their strongest capabilities.

3. Who do you think will be first to be eliminated?
Mpho: Anyone can be first out, this will be toughest round to judge hey.

Mandi: I come with no expectations! It could be anyone.

Andrew: Haha, geez, don’t hold back, ask some really tough questions why don’t you!? Here’s what I know, no one can touch the poem I’ve written for the 1st round, so I haven’t even thought about who’ll survive the fallout from that. What I have thought about is who I’ll be pitted against in the last round.


4. Does the competitive element of a slam take away from the art of poetry?
Andrew: Once the word “winner” comes into play (as it does in a slam), it implies the word “loser”, and ego simply cannot be absent from that setup. So the writing that went into this slam, was directed toward eliminating the competition. Stylistically, it’s different from the poetry that I write simply to write.

One can still create beautiful art even in this context, so I wouldn’t say it’s “bound” to take away from the art of it, but it can because on some level it’s about presenting what you think will win as opposed to writing simply what’s in you.

I once posed the question “would you write if there was no one there to listen?”. My answer is that I would, in fact I often write as though that were the case. But when you’re slamming for your life, it’s a different ball-game.

Mandi: Not if you have matured in this field. You know better than to write for anyone but yourself.

Mpho: Competitive poetry allows one to enhance and better themselves, so it does not take anything away, rather it allows one to see how far one is and grow more. I always perform to share my art, winning is a bonus.


5. What do you think of additional elements to performance poetry such as props and music? Do they add or take away from the poetry itself?
Mpho: Additional elements help enhance once performance, depending on how well one can use them, also one needs to be careful not to have those elements be the showcase and over-ride the poetry.

 Andrew: I draw a distinction between poetry, performance poetry and slam poetry. I distinguish between poetry, prose and play (theatre). Without getting too technical, in my view, as long as it’s a “poetry” performance, then the biggest factor should be the story you’re telling judged primarily on the strength of the writing. This applies to performance poetry as well. Everything else in performance poetry (music, props, actors) must work together with, and not overshadow, the writing. I say this because you can hide poor writing behind how you present yourself, and that’s not cool. Ultimately, this is poetry not drama.

Mandi: They challenge the competitor to utilise those tools to enhance their truth.


6. Why are you taking part in this slam?
I’m taking part to go toe to toe with the best in Jozi (even though we are missing a couple of other names), and see how far I have come.

Mandi: Because Masai pulled out and I was asked to replace him. Initially I had reserved my right to say ‘NO’!

Andrew: I’m probably going to be taking a different direction in terms of my art in the future. So, while I’m still slamming, I enjoy being pitted against the best. Oh, and the money’s nice too.

Also the formats for the different rounds of the show will help us to showcase the different styles that can be used to present performance poetry. I think this is vital to industrialising poetry to the point where a person can say “I wanna do this for a living” and not be looked at as a loon.

In order for poetry to become a “top of mind” choice for event organisers, promoters, writers, corporates, and mainstream media, we have to push it, and this will be one of the ways we’re doing it.

This is one show you definitely don’t want to miss so make sure to be at the Market Theatre Lab (inside the Bus Factory) on Saturday 4 October at 1pm.


…in #WordNSound we trust…