Monthly Archives: November 2014

#WNSAwards: What is a ‘Perfect Poem’ anayway?

WNSAwards_PerfectPoem

The category is inspired by Kojo Baffoe’s poem in which he is “on a quest to find the perfect poem, a gentle balance between word, rhythm and thought …a poem that sends the moon and sun dancing over the skyline hand in hand”.

It’s an opportunity for us to say big up to the poems that really moved us and really stood out this year. “The award is encouragement for poets to constantly improve their writing. There is no such thing as a truly perfect poem, but we must always be in pursuit of it and it is in that spirit that this category was introduced,” says Word N Sound CEO, Thabiso Afurakan Mohare.


You can now vote once every hour for the Perfect Poem Award.
Voting closes midday on Thursday 13 Nov.

Xabiso Vili – Gaza, A Love Story

Zewande Bhengu – CD4 Count

Masai Dabula – Do You Remember Me

Mandi Poefficient Vundla – Mother

Mandi Poefficient Vundla – Ode To Kwaito

Conelius Jones – Seven Moons

Modise Sekgothe – To Die Before You Die

Mutle Mothibe – Nuances of Apollo

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WNSAwards: “I’m hoping the poems changes people’s ideas HIV” – Zewande Bhengu

ZEWANDE

1. What is the story behind your poem? What inspired you to write it?
I wrote the poem after I had read a newspaper article a long time ago where the man was accused of “infecting” his wife with HIV but he was saying that she was cheating so he left.

The second part of the poem was a response to how people were addressing this conversation around HIV. It painted this picture that people who are HIV positive are weak and helpless and I was not in agreement having encountered people who were stable, strong willed, hard working despite their status.

2. If your poem had the power to change just one thing, what would it be?
It would be making people a lot more aware and understanding of HIV.

3. Which poem would you like to win…besides your own of course?
“To die before we die” – Modise Sekgothe

4. How do you feel about it being nominated in the Perfect Poem Category?
It fills me with shock and joy at the same time. I thought if I made into this category, it would another poem but it takes nothing away from my joy for it.

WNSAwards: “This list of perfect poems is intimidating.” – Xabiso Vili

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1. What is the story behind your poem? What inspired you to write it?
“Gaza – A Love Story” was actually two separate poems, one about Gaza and a love story about a cold lover. I was lucky enough to spot a connection between the two. From that point it created itself and was able to tell a personal story with a wider, pertinent background and setting.

2. If your poem had the power to change just one thing, what would it be?
I would hope it would personalise the struggles and pain of people we assume are not connected to us. Make people realise that just because someone isn’t in our vicinity that doesn’t make them far removed and their story can still be yours.

3. Which poem would you like to win…besides your own of course?
Modise’s “Die Before You Die” and Mutle’s “Nuances of Apollo” have snuck in close to my heart. But the list of perfect poems is intimidating with how many amazing poems are on there.

4. How do you feel about it being nominated in the Perfect Poem category?
Humbled, proud, excited, surprised, overwhelmed, ecstatic – and a range of other contradictory emotions. To see these poems you work so hard on walking out in the world and holding their own is an indescribable feeling.

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WNS Awards: “Africa artists are amazing man!” – Mutle Mothibe

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1. What is the story behind your poem? What inspired you to write it?
“Nuances of Apollo” was inspired by artists and the struggles we go through when it comes to creating our works. It was also a celebration of our achievements. This poem was close to my heart because I had prepared it for my trip to the Apollo Theatre. So the concept was mostly centered on how dope South African poets are and how we can hold our own anywhere on the global stage.

2. If your poem had the power to change just one thing, what would it be?
I’d like it to change our perception of ourselves as African artists. We are an amazing bunch of spoken words artists.

3. Which poem would you like to win…besides your own of course?
Modise Sekgothe’s “To Die Before You Die”.

4. How do you feel about it being nominated in the Perfect Poem category?
I feel honoured and really moved by the gesture.

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WNS Awards: “We are all angels…we’ve just let our wings drag in the mud.” – Modise Sekgothe

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1. What is the story behind your poem? What inspired you to write it?
“To Die Before You Die” was inspired by the fundamental truth that the nature of human beings is essentially good, and pure, and that everything else in our behavior that is contrary to this fact is an expression of our struggle to somehow live up to our nature, some of us fail, some more than others, but we are still good…and beautiful and magical, it is intrinsic to being human. We’re just very troubled and we suffer and we react out of anger and resentment to the extreme challenges life throws at us. This however does not define us, perhaps only on a social/superficial level but not essentially.

The idea of dying before you die is a mystic notion that is against the belief that life is in its nature a tumultuous struggle and that purity, joy, clarity and light is only attained to after death. It instead points to the possibility of attaining that purity, joy, clarity and light while we are still alive, which is when it is most essential anyway.

When we know that we are good, we will strive to live that goodness, to die before we die. I make a lot of reference to angel mythology, angels are regarded as most pure and good, which is very lofty and removed from humanity, it is vital to bring the idea of purity back down here, to bring the angel back to earth in ourselves. We are all angels…we’ve just let our wings drag in the mud. So I’m just trying to drive that home; to myself and everyone willing to listen. We can fly man, life just gets a bit too heavy sometimes, especially when you’re on earth, gravity doesn’t make flying very easy. It’s easy for an angel to fly from way up there. It’s much harder for us, but we do it regardless, that why I say that humans are actually more magical.
The idea of angels is not a very literal one for me but it represents a very interesting dynamic and paradigm we have as humans. That God is up there and that the angels are up there, when all it’s all just inside.

2. If your poem had the power to change just one thing, what would it be?
I’d be happy if it changed how we saw ourselves and others. We’re super awesome, all of us. We are way more powerful and divine than we think.

3. Which poem would you like to win…besides your own of course?
I think “Mother” by Mandi Vundla is an obvious wonder. And the way it came to speak to her reality is very touching. May her mother rest in peace.

4. How do you feel about it being nominated in the Perfect Poem Category?
I feel extremely honored. I do think it’s a well written and constructed poem, perhaps one of the most well put together in relation to my other works, which to me is reflective of my growth as a writer, so this nomination really acknowledges and confirms that for me. I’m very grateful and joyful, it was very fun to write, I really enjoyed the process, it was very adventurous and whenever I thought I was done it would just kept wanting to continue which is beautiful because the last parts are the ones that really speak to what the entire poem is about.

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WNS Awards: “Poetry is not a luxury” – Masai Dabula

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1. What is the story behind your poem? What inspired you to write it?
Well, the say “a picture can tell a thousand words”. I tend to see words in images… The word “Remember” inspired the whole “Do You Remember Me” poem. I gather I used a basic creative writing method to allow the poem to be.

The poem is performance driven, it’s a monologue from one of my many alter-egos. And I’m pleased to say, I will be collaborating with a filmmaker to bring this poem to it’s full existence, and it should be out in the month of December.

2. If your poem had the power to change just one thing, what would it be?
Poetry is not a luxury meant for a certain group of people, poetry is not mere entertainment concept. It’s an art form.

3. Which poem would you like to win…besides your own of course?
In true sense, who ever wins is not winning for themselves but winning for the literature movement at hand.

4. How do you feel about it being nominated in the Perfect Poem Category?
This means I can facilitate a workshop, for I now I have a working method to crafting a beautiful piece of work (poem). This means I can help harness skill, develop growth and instigate this type of literature to new heights.

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WNSAwards: “I feel like I keep re-writing the WNS history books.” – Mandi Vundla

MAndi

1. What is the story behind your poem? What inspired you to write it?
I was raised on Kwaito Music, from next door to front and back opposite, I grew up in an environment that celebrated Kwaito as a music genre that depicted our lives in the townships.

“Ode to Kwaito” was inspired by the downfall of the genre and its artist. Kwaito was a form of liberation music for me. A successful genre that we as the black race of the slums could own post-apartheid how liberating. When the artists abused this privilege, I needed an outlet.
And so the poem was born

“Mother” was written for the only mother I know, my rock, my soldier, my happiness my stress. This was for her and everything she gave up
for us, I wanted to give back to her tenfold through this poem. And I did but I went off a tangent when I personified her to my God. I began to question why my mother’s name or names pronounced with clicks and folds like my grandmother’s were not captured in the Bible, where were we, did we not exist, was our skin not Godly enough to be aligned with the story of Christianity?
2. If your poem had the power to change just one thing, what would it be?
Both poems would have to change the way we as Africans perceive ourselves. We are beyond the broken black boy story. Lets rewrite the narrative.
3. Which poem would you like to win…besides your own of course?
I’m truly uncertain.

4. How do you feel about it being nominated in the Perfect Poem category?
I may be blowing my own horn here, but has it ever happened that 1 poet gets 2 nominations in 1 category? I feel like I keep rewriting the WNS history book…unless I’m wrong.

For the record: Mandi is not wrong. Yes, yet again she enters the record books for being the only poet to be nominated twice in one category. Salute!

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WNS Awards: “I’m grateful that my work is appreciated.” – Conelius Jones

Conelius-Jones

1. What is the story behind your poem? What inspired you to write it?
‘Seven Moons’ is basically about seven women that I have been in relationships with in the past. The poem was inspired by Jeannan Verlee’s “40 Love Letters”.

2. If your poem had the power to change just one thing, what would it be?
It would change people’s perceptions of past experiences. We often look back at our lives with regret or guilt. I would want my poem to challenge the notion of “mistakes”, and to make people realise that the unfortunate situations we sometimes find ourselves in are also part of the human journey.

3. Which poem would you like to win…besides your own of course?
Well Masai Dabula completely surprised me with his poem “Do You Remember Me”. I love everything about that poem. I especially love how he challenged himself to write something different from what people expect from him, so I would very much like to see “Do you Remember Me” take the award.

4. How do you feel about it being nominated in the Perfect Poem Category?
It is an absolute honor, I’m sincerely grateful that my work is noticed and appreciated.

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#WNSAwards: “Even I was blown away by that performance” – Mandi Vundla

Mandisa

This year we crowned South Africa’s first National Slam Champion at the Slam For Your Life Finale held at the National Arts Festival in Grahamstown. The event was made up of an epic battle between 4 poets with showcases from songstress Khethi and seasoned performance poets Mandi Poefficient Vundla, Mutle Mothibe and Conelius Jones.

Mandi stole the show with a killer set that had, UK poet, Lemn Sissay in awe of her work and even more interested in our local poetry scene.

She has now been nominated for a Best Showcase Award for this performance.

Tell us about this performance? Was there anything special for you? Did you enjoy it?
That performance was unplanned and I startled myself completely. I performed poems that weren’t new to me, but the response was a crescendo of standing ovations throughout my set. I was blown away.

What has been your highlight as a poet this year?
Performing at Arts Alive 2014 and in Grahamstown at the National Arts Fest.
Doing a Khaya FM interview on Nicky B’s show with Lebo Mashile and Gratitude fisher.
Featuring in an article in the Citizen Newspaper.

Which poet have you really enjoyed hearing/reading/watching this year?
I’ve enjoyed the little I’ve encountered from Nayeer Waheed . She reminds me a little of Warsan Shire. She makes vulnerability sound so sexy.

I’m excited about Xabiso Vili, his enthusiasm reminds me of a trait I possessed when I couldn’t define the feeling of being hungry for words and the stage.

I have my eye on the reigning queen, Thando. I’d like to watch her craft unfold and I hope she exploits the Queendom.

Who would you love to share a stage with and why?
Andrea Gibson, it’s no secret… Andrea to me is both the message and the messenger.
“Some people are artist. Some themselves are art”-via Itsfahad.

Are you working on any interesting projects?
Oh yes. Watch the space!

 

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“I am a writer before I am a performer” – Conelius Jones

Conelius

This year saw the inaugural annual Spoken Freedom Festival at the Market Theatre. The Festival sought to reflect on 20 years of freedom through the art of poetry.

The four-day affair played host to 14 of South Africa’s most exciting and influential voices. Conelius Jones gave a stellar performance that has earned him a Best Showcase nomination at this year’s Word N Sound Awards.

Tell us about this performance? Was there anything special for you? Did you enjoy it?
This performance felt like it was my first showcase, I suppose I felt like that because I hadn’t showcased my work in a while. It was special because my parents were in the audience, and I was sharing a stage with Napo Masheane and Makhafula Vilakazi.

What has been your highlight as a poet this year?
My highlight has been getting the chance tour and perform in Germany. This trip has actually been the highlight in my poetry career. I got to perform at the Berlin Poetry Festival, it was such an incredible experience and I enjoyed every moment of it.

Which poet have you really enjoyed hearing/reading/watching this year? Who should we be looking out for?
Xabiso Vili, Modise Sekgothe, Makhafula Vilakazi, Zewande Bhengu, Bafentse Ntlokoa. These poets have stood out this year, they are amazing writers and talented performers.

Who would you love to share a stage with and why?
Saul Williams. He just has so much passion when he’s on stage. I think being around someone like that would have a great influence on me as a performer.

Are you working on any interesting projects?
Everything is on hold at the moment. I’d like to focus more on my writing, I personally believe that is the essence of my craft. I am a writer before I am a performer. So the only thing I’m working on now is just growing as a writer.

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