We first saw Xongani Maluleka on the Next Generation stage where Xavi Black convinced her to join the main slam stage and boy are we glad he did. She has been nominated for a Newcomer of the Year Award.
What has been your biggest learning curve in the competition with regards to your writing or performances?
I have learnt that originality is very important thus taking up traits of our idols is a risky and almost an unconscious act. I have learnt to be consistent with my style of writing and performance. It is of the utmost importance that I grow but still maintain a strong sense of originality.
If you could change anything about the slam what would it be?
Personally I would not change anything about the slam. The show keeps me on my toes, requires me to work hard and pushes me to look beyond my gender because im put on an equal platform as male poets. The rules are simple and the competition is healthy.
What about your poetry do you think sets you apart from the next poet?
My poetry is unique in such a way that I strive to tell the truth as it is. I speak about social subjects that are usually ignored. I have never been one to sugar coat or sweep reality under the rug.
What does the Best Newcomer Nomination mean to you?
It means growth, development, uniqueness. The nomination also means that my work is recognised and appreciated. I feel that I am doing something significant that leaves an impression on people.
Should you win the Best Newcomer Title, do you think it will place more or lesser pressure on you to do well in this year’s Open Mic Poetry League?
I wouldn’t say that it will put more pressure on me but, it will encourage me to do better. As artists we place our own standards sometimes without intention, we raise bars that we must continue to escalate, this award is also one of the bars one should strive to never come down from, but should improve upon.
Who were your three favourite poets of 2013 and why?
Kagiso Tshepe (Elysium Garcia): I had never met him before; I had never heard anyone express themselves with such great precision. It truly sounded like he is curving a marble statue with extreme carefulness and turns out extremely amazing. He made me cry with his ‘Church of Assholery’ piece. He made me realise that it is ok to be broken.
Vuyelwa Maluleke: what drew my attention to her at first is that she is Hot! She inspires me to write for women and about women. Her poem ‘Big School’ sits very close to my heart because I’ve always had issues with the pronunciation of my name, and I am glad that she told my story.
Xavi Black: I know he is not a poet but he made me become my own favourite poet. He introduced me to the WNS Slam and platform. At first I thought he was crazy, but he saw potential in me and I am grateful that he encouraged me to take part in the slam.