We caught up with Mak Manaka ahead of his showcase on the Word N Sound stage this Saturday.
Why poetry? (Why not Hip-hop or prose, music or theatre)
Well, to me it’s all literature, it’s all art. I cannot write nor play music but I have a good ear for sound when the notes are clashing, and theatre and prose, come out here and there, and hip-hop is poetry’s child, I used to rap on stage at Li Club back in the days, so, like I say, it’s all art.
As one of the legendary veterans of poetry, do you still wake up in the morning and say “YES, POETRY”! Is poetry still relevant in the contemporary landscape?
Hold on, what? Veteran? Why ningigugisa kodwa? Next minute I have to get veteran’s grant. NO. Still way too young to be a veteran. And yes, I still do, wake up in the morning and compose a poem. Poetry is the articulation of the human condition, of condition period. So, given the issues that we wake up to lately, poetry is very relevant, today, tomorrow and forever. Wherever there are people, art will always be relevant, because art is an integral part of a people’s culture.
What keeps your fire alight?
You keep me alight. Knowing that I am not the only one encouraging people to follow their desires makes me feel closer to the goal of, art for social transformation.
How do you feel about the shape that poetry (especially slam poetry) is taking now?
To be honest, I never really did separate or categorize the delivery of poetry, though I can tell you this, gone are the days of poets trying sound like so and so. One can tell, that some of these young guns read, and work at harnessing their own voice, and that makes me very proud to be a poet today.
What makes it important for you to perform your poetry and not only leave it in books?
You know, sometimes you just want to see the band perform as opposed to hearing their music on the stereo. I have two books published, and other publications in different languages around the world, I am a firm believer in taking your time to publish, and not do what I did, because I was very young when I published my first book, but then again, it becomes chronological and people can see the growth. And when it comes to the stage, I love people.
Comparing sessions at ‘Cool Runnings’ and ‘Horror Cafe’ to those held in the city now (Likwid Tongue and Word N Sound) a lot has changed and been gained along the way, do you feel that anything of importance has been lost?
Time lost cannot be gained though rather perfected. Some of the people I started with are the ones that are still rewriting the scene, and some have boxed themselves, and others threw in the towel. ARTLIFE is no easy life, so for me it’s the people that we’ve lost along the way, and seeing new faces more and more. Growing bigger and bigger.
If you were asked to choose only 1 line to leave as your legacy from your poetry, what would it be?
“My time and your time, is not before or after but NOW!”
What is your dream for poetry?
What is my dream for art period; it is that of encouraging our children to follow their desires and passions, because art is every child’s birthright. Sure, it’s not all easy, but easy does not come easy in the lives of grown-ups. I have another dream but that one we shall all see and experience in time.
What was the greatest lesson poetry ever taught you?
Sharing is caring…
What is your mantra?
It is still the same from the first time we met, ART LOVE SUPREME and PMA (Positive Mental Attitude). Bless!