SFYL: “I am curious about how the audience will react” – Zewande Bhengu


Zewande Bhengu will be representing the Gauteng province at the first Slam For Your Life National Poetry Slam after he received more votes than any other poet from the four participating provinces.

It’s official! Your province has chosen you to represent them at the first ever Slam For Your Life National Poetry Slam at the National Arts Festival in Grahamstown. Now, how does that feel?
For the most part, I am quite excited. I also feel quite inspired by the pressure because I will be carrying myself, Word N Sound, the people who supported me and Gauteng on my shoulders when I step on that stage.

What was your strategy to get the many votes that you did?
Well, after making it to the Top 3 following the Secret Slam, I performed at a number of places (mainly student accommodation and work places) to promote both the slam and raise awareness around the voting process. So by the time voting started, all I had to do was put up a poster at the venues I’d performed to remind them of the Slam and show them how to vote. In addition to all this I sent the link to their social media pages/ profiles. Of course, I also took advantage of relationships with family members and their co-workers.

What are you most looking forward to and what are you not looking forward to at all?
I am mostly looking forward to the audience as I anticipate it will be so different from what I am used to in performing poetry; I am curious about how they will react. I am also looking forward to the workshops because I think I have some room to grow. The spirit of the Festival generally is also something to look forward to, and of course who could forget the weather (The cold is my other half). As for what I’m not looking forward to, to be honest, nothing comes to mind.

Given the chance to speak to sponsors like the British Council, who make such projects possible, what would you say to them, as an artist?
Have more faith in young artists. Sponsors seem so ready to fund and assist people who are already successful and young artists almost always get the short end of the stick. More than that, I think a grand thank you is in order, for making THIS possible. I hope their support can continue into the coming years. Thank you.

Word N Sound is looking to expand their national footprint. Do you have any ideas around how poets and poetry movements across the country can work together better?
I think keeping in communication before, during and after the National Slam would be greatly beneficial. The relationships could be further strengthened by having inter-provincial showcases.

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