Category Archives: Interviews

#WNSallstars: WNS needs to capitalise on the momentum – Andrew

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1. Where did you first hear about WNS and what made you want to be a part of it?
In passing during a workshop, ahead of the Drama For Life Regional Final. Nova and I were among the poets competing, and she was answering a question on previous poetry wins. After that, Afurakan took my number at the DFL Finale and invited me to Word N Sound (above Madi’s emphatic protests). I missed the next show, but attended the one after. I guess I wanted to be part of it because I’d seen people raving on Facebook about it being such a nice show, and also having just won Drama For Life, I was still in the mood to slam.

2. Tell us about your first time on the WNS stage. How was the experience? What did you love about it and what did you hate?
It was at the Con Cowan Theatre in the Bunting Road Campus of the University of Johannesburg. It was a nice vibe, nice atmosphere. I remember almost going with a new poem because I felt I owed it to the audience to present new poems each time (I was still very new to this performance poetry thing). Romeo The Poet talked me out of that fortunately in a hurry and I wound up going with “Consequence” and that got me to the Festival. I loved the audience, but I wasn’t a fan of having to pay to perform. (the free mageu was nice though).

3. What has been your most memorable WNS show?
There have been so many, where does one even begin. I’ll just rattle off some highlights because the thing about WNS shows, is that often, someone brings something never-before-seen to the stage and that’s always memorable. So here goes:
-Masai storming off stage during his showcase. Won’t forget that in a hurry.
-My 1st showcase. I had so much fun, I was walking around in a haze for days afterward.
-Harry Baker, what more can I say?
-Ex Ka Dubandlela’s debut was awesome, (and considering his entire poem was in Zulu, that’s a big impression to make on a non native Zulu-speaker).
-Modise Sekgothe’s showcase. Some background: Once I’m seated in my chair, I have no intention of standing up. I’ll clap or whatever, but I will not stand up. I gave Modise a standing ovation.
-If I forget every other moment at WNS, I’ll always remember this: at the second festival, when the order of the top 5 was being announced after we had competed; and my name came up fourth, the crowd went ballistic. They were very vocal in expressing their disappointment (many who came up to me afterwards told me they believed that on the day I had taken it), and that was another kind of victory I suppose. It taught me a little something about winning the hearts of the people.
-Purple Jupiter’s debut, they were performing ’17seconds’. It was a thing of beauty.

4. You are now part of the WNS Committee. What is your role and how has that experience been?
I’m Word N Sound’s Marketing Consultant.

The Good – We’re an easy group of people to market. The poets that have graced our stages generally do good work. The team itself is dedicated to the vision of creating an industry that makes poetry and writing a viable career choice, so it’s been rewarding to be part of that vision. Also, we can see clearly that the work we’re doing is getting noticed as we find ourselves in more mainstream spaces and media (I’ve performed at an art gallery opening along with Rennie Alexander; and have been on the TEDx Johannesburg stage as have Conelius Jones, Mandi Vundla, Elysium Garcia, and Vuyelwa Maluleke).

The Bad – Living your dreams in a part-time capacity. There really isn’t a full on poetry industry locally. There are a few established poets who are able to make their living herein, but no industry yet. As a result, the work we do is on a volunteer basis, and because food is nice, we all have to have another hustle. The sad reality is that you inevitably work on this thing you love with less than 100% of your energy. It just means we’ll take longer to get there. Also, poets are generally not great when it comes to trying to get administrative stuff out of them. Case in Point – we’re still waiting on some artist bio’s from the last festival.

The Challenge – is twofold: Garnering mainstream attention and grooming business-savvy artists. We’re starting to get mainstream recognition as evidenced by appearances on Morning Live, Expresso, & Sunrise. That’s great for poetry, but we need to capitalise on the momentum that this current wave of poetry has been generating since 2011. Taking nothing away from the active participants in the previous eras of poetry, without their efforts we wouldn’t be here, but we do need to learn from past experience and take this artform to a new level. This will require Business Acumen. Artists need to either learn the business principles governing their art or surround themselves by people who do. Or face the reality of being talented and broke.

The Reward – Reshaping a landscape. We’re in the privileged position of being at the coalface as the world cottons on to the reality of what contemporary poetry is; and we get to play a part in shaping what it shall become.

5. Name 3 of your favourite poems from any of the artists in the All-Stars line up. What is it about that poem that makes it stand out?
Mutle’s – “Message in a Massage” , “I am an Artist” and “Parkinson’s” – What stands out? It’s evident that the research is thorough. He mingles wordplay and imagery to convey a well-thought out message/depiction/scenario. It’s masterful and the dedication is commendable.

#WNSallstars: WNS always tries to out-do itself – KB

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1. Where did you first hear about WNS and what made you want to be a part of it?
I was busting in PTA, went to EVERY session imaginable, in 2008 I heard there was WNS, and to me it was another stage for me to share and receive. PLUS when I was starting out, I had inboxed Afurakan that “one day” I will share a stage with him…. Lo and behold…

2. Tell us about your first time on the WNS stage. How was the experience? What did you love about it and what did you hate?
My 1st time was in September 2008, I performed the poem called “I Lied”, I had chosen it because it is powerful, it’s real and causes curiosity where it’s going. The response was out of this world, “the underdog from PTA” burning up the stage, I just hated that PTA was not well represented in JHB and that was about to change.

3. What has been your most memorable WNS show?
Too many, I think WNS always tried to out-do itself and every time I’m there, artist give it their best. One is only as good as their last performance right?

4. Name 3 of your favourite poems from any of the artists in the AllStars line up. What is it about that poem that makes it stand out?
Mutle – Parkinson, I’ve seen the movie that Mutle drew inspiration from, and his interpretation of the character was on point. That poem will always be remembered as one of his best works whether he likes it or not.

Afurakan – Dream, I don’t think this dude realises how powerful that poem is, enough said. These days dreaming the right dream is a privilege. Also, “the U-n-i-verse moves with me”……”A hungry stomach scars the body, but a starving mind murders the spirit”.

Andrew Manyika – Make Up, A revolutionary poem, an enlightening piece, truth at it’s best. The calmness of Andrew as he sails through this poem, I think it’s always so well executed and I can never get enough of it. Women should really take this poem to heart. But Andrew has this other poem about the trajectory of a tear, another memorable poem.

Ep 1 – Top 5: Xabiso Vili

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I’ve watched the Word N Sound stage from Grahamstown then Cape Town, always wishing I would have a chance to participate.

1. Where did you find out about the Word N Sound Open Mic Poetry League and what made you want to be a part of it badly enough to have arrived at 9am (of course we had to mention that – your and Nkosinathi’s dedication is commendable)
This answer might make me sound like a groupie but I promise, I’m the nice type of groupie. I was lucky enough to compete against Andrew Manyika in the 2011 DFL Lover + Another Poetry challenge – he was repping Gauteng and I was repping Eastern Cape. I really liked his work so I may or may not have started stalking him. As a result of this, I was able to discover his affiliation with Word N Sound and do a bit more research. I’ve watched the Word N Sound stage from Grahamstown then Cape Town, always wishing I would have a chance to participate. Luckily I moved to Pretoria last year and thus was quite excited for the beginning of the season. Nkosinathi and I always enjoy tough competition, so a poet had to do what a poet had to do to book their slot on the competitive WordnSound open mic list.

2. How was your first experience on the #WordNSound stage and what do you think of the rest of the poets who performed?
It was an absolutely beautiful experience. Filled with so much talent, love and devotion to the word. The featured artists and the award winners were world class entertainers and writers. The open mic-ers also brought so much fire to that microphone. I hope that those performances continue to inspire those who, perhaps, didn’t do too well on the stage along with those that were to apprehensive, scared or nervous to get up onto that stage. There are very few better experiences with sharing a stage with poets of that calibre.

3. What did you hope the audience would walk away with after listening to your poem (please may you give me the title)?
The title is ‘Kintsukuroi’. I am always a bit apprehensive about telling the audience what to feel when it comes to artwork. The things we walk away with are always so different and I would really want them to keep and nurture whatever feeling they had, that will be true to them. For me, when I first performed that poem, I was reminded of our strength. In the face of adversity, pain, horror, grief, I find it amazing that we continue to rise time and time again. That strength that is always beside and inherit within us is beautiful and I use that poem as a reminder to myself of that strength when situations in life get a little too difficult to handle.

4. Which line stands out the most in that poem even for you as its writer and why?
“And it hurts, when feathers rip through skin, when molten gold runs through scars, when we are ripped apart just so our heavy fingers can fumble at pulling ourselves back together again”

Let me state that I love all my poems equally and every single line thereof just as equally. I choose the above line because all the other lines have worked together to create its potency. I enjoy the above line because of its violence, its pain, its agony in the context of the beauty of ‘Kintsukuroi’, it creates an ugly with all of it’s beauty. A contrast of this beautiful thing happening through all this pain, rawness and agony. That is the type of writing I want to do more of.

5. Tell us a bit about you as a writer. When did you start? Why? What do you hope to achieve as a writer?
I was always an awkward child, spent most of my time reading, not talking, playing in my imagination. It was ten years ago, in Grade 7 I think, that I heard a poet perform for the first time, i ran home after school and penned my first piece called ‘African Stranger’. When I came back to school the next day or a couple of days after, I showed it to my teacher who asked me to perform it to the class and then the other classes. I had somehow found a way to take all my awkward imagination living and share it with the world. As I performed, I cried and i’m sure I felt little wings growing from my ankles and I flew across universes that day. i still believe that poets and storytellers are from the same bloodline as Hermes and remain the messenger of the gods.

In the future, I envision a South Africa infused with art. Performers on every street corner. Alternative stage popping up where anybody has the artistic intent. I imagine a mass sharing of beauty, workshops and a constant improvement of the art form because of the artistic interaction. Throw in some money in there and we have a perfect dream. I imagine kids telling their parents they want to be artists and parents responding as though the child just said they want to be a fire fighter or a lawyer or doctor or a space travelling philanthropist politically aware superhero.

6. What can we expect from you next month?
I am still poking around as to what can and cannot be done on the Word N Sound stage. So next month I plan to experiment. Take a little risk, play around with the art form in the hopes of introducing new elements to my performance. So as much as I have looked at the judging criteria when writing my piece, I have also tried to create an authentic story telling experience. Really, I am following my mantra, taken from Chuck Wendig, to always “ART HARDER MOTHERF***ER”, so I hope to always be better than I was last time.

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INTERVIEW: Mike Schreiber

1800151_10152307616898968_1765916394_o1. Does your anthropology degree have an influence on your approach to photography? If so how?
Anthropology is the study of cultures, so I think it works very well with photography. I’m naturally curious and I love bullshitting and meeting people, so photography is a perfect medium for me. I like being out in the world. Anthropology taught me to look at things critically, to look for what was beneath the surface. People are interesting enough to me on their own, so I never felt the need to embellish what was already in front of me. I think I’m a documentarian by nature. Even when shooting portraits, I try to shoot more of what I see as opposed to creating a false environment. I personally think it’s more interesting that way.

2. You’ve shot everything from prisoners in Angola to kids in the streets of Cuba and hip hop celebrities. Which photoshoot stands out the most for you?
I can’t point to one that stands out the most. They’re all part of my life, so I take different things from each experience. They’re all different, but the one constant is me. My photos taken together are the story of my life.

3. Of the hip hop artists you’ve captured which one was the trickiest to capture… And which one was the most fun to work with?
My whole thing is my personality. I connect easily with most people, but some people I just don’t like and vice versa. It doesn’t happen often, but when it does, the pictures reflect that. M.I.A. was always fun. We had really good chemistry I think. Mos Def is great. David
Banner. Biz. There are a lot, but those four stand out.

4. If you weren’t a photographer what profession would you persue?
Exotic dancing.


5. You’re set to exhibit on the upcoming Word N Sound Series on 1 March. What can the audience expect to see on the day?

Pictures from my book, “True Hip-Hop”, stories about my pictures. Beer. 😬


True Hip-Hop author, Mike Schreiber talks about how he feels about hip-hop with panelists: Rodney Carmichael, Fahamu Pecou and Dr. Joyce Wilson. Also, a Hip-Hop Photographer, Mike has produced images for some of the best in the music business.

Catch Mike Schrieber’s digital photo exhibition on the Word N Sound stage this Saturday, 1 March, at the Market Theatre Laboratory, 3 President Street Newtown.

Visit the official event page here.

Interview: Luka Lesson

LukaLessonEveryone is scared of making a mistake. But that’s the beauty of poetry, there are no real mistakes. – Luka Lesson

1. You’ve been likened to Saul Williams based on your content and style of delivery…Did you ever listen to Saul or how do you feel about being likened to him?
Yeah, I’m honoured to be put in that realm. He’s a brave poet and is one that I
keep coming back to for sure. Saul is an inspiring artist. As is Charlie Dark from
London who gave me that title of ‘young Saul’ when he was visiting Melbourne.

2. What is one word you’ve struggled to use in your pieces and are still waiting for the write instance/piece in which to use it?
I’ve been working on a piece about the word ‘paradox’ in my head for about a year. It’ll come when it’s ready.

3. You run workshops on poetry performances and writing…What is one prevalent problem faced by up and coming writers/poets when it comes to this genre of art?
The tyranny of the blank page. Everyone freaks at ‘writers block’ or where to start. Or even more so, people also keep asking me for permission to write a certain line or idea. Everyone is scared of making a mistake. But that’s the beauty of poetry, there are no real mistakes. Some things do sound better than
others, but everyone’s voice is different, so each person can set up their own style and therefore roll with their own rules.

4. Name 3 of your favourite authors?
Khalil Gibran would be number one because he is really who made me believe in poetry as a tool to help change, heal and grow as a human being.
Nikos Kazantsakis, a Greek author, who hails from my homeland. My grandparents and parents migrated from Greece to Australia in the 1940s and Kazantsakis was one of the most famous and politically aware authors of his day. His last book ‘Zorba the Greek’ reads like poetry.
The third would be Herodotus, the ancient Greek historian who inspired me to put together my debut book of poetry ‘The Future Ancients’.

5. What can the Word N Sound audience expect from your upcoming performance on the 1st of March?
My work is based in the rap foundations that I started from, so there are some tight verses and political messages…but I’ve moved on and experimented with other styles as well. In the end, in my performance they can expect plenty of heart, heavy word-play and an Australian accent. 🙂

Catch Luka Lesson live on the Word N Sound stage this Saturday, 1 March, at the Market Theatre Laboratory, 3 President Street Newtown.

Visit the official event page here.

Interview: Afurakan on Tongue Fu

Screen Shot 2014-02-20 at 7.45.00 AMIn May 2013, Afurakan performed a completely improvised set with a band he had never met. The band members had also only met on the day of their performance.

What is Tongue Fu and when did you first come across the format?
Tongue Fu is an exciting spoken word and live music format where poets are challenged to improvise a performance set with a band that they have never worked or rehearsed with before. What also makes it interesting is that the band itself has never worked together before thus adding a level of unpredictability to both the music and the spoken word performances.

I first came across the event in London in 2013 during a work related visit and also got an opportunity to perform at the event.

What made you decide to follow the format for your showcase last year?
I like the energy and the unpredictability of the format. As a poet you are forced to think on your feet and work hand in hand with the band. You also have to be able to work with any kind of music and have versatile poem up your sleeve.

Did you enjoy your showcase? What was the most difficult thing about it?
I really enjoyed my showcase and the most difficult thing was keeping up with the band. Even though it’s your responsibility to direct the band, the music tends to develop a life of its own and you have to mould your performance to match the music.

Tell us about the March 1 gig. How did it come about and what can artists expect?
So after experiencing Tongue Fu in London I was determined to bring the format to South Africa and see if it could inspire us to think broader when it comes to live literature. After months of talks and in partnership with British Council Connect ZA we were able to secure Chris Redmond and Arthur Lea. Saturday promises to be an unforgettable experience as seasoned poets and musicians are thrown on one stage and asked to create magic. I can’t wait.

A little birdie told us about Afurakan and the Elastic Band. What is that about and if you could build a dream Elastic Band, which musicians would you feature (local and international)?
The Elastic Band is a concept I developed where the band is never the same size or people and nothing is ever rehearsed. The aim is to drive improvisation and the beauty of creating art real time. So the band can range from 1 instrumentalist to an a full orchestra depending on the event or occasion.

I am still building my dream Elastic Band so check on me a few months from now. LOL!

WnS-1-March---Tongue-FuGo to the Facebook event page to RSVP

‘I was born for this’ – Mandi

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Mandi Poefficient Vundla set a Word N Sound record when she successfully defended her Open Mic Champion title at last year’s Word N Sound International Youth Poetry + Live Music Festival.

Tell us more about this year’s slam. Why did you decide to defend your title, was it harder than last year and who was your toughest competition?
Well…Word N Sound said I couldn’t just walk out on my title, so I actually blame you for my win. Last’s year’s slam was tougher, points went back to zero, it was anyone’s game. Elysium Garcia made me restless though. Winning was affirming though. I was born for this!

Name 3 elements you’ve added or subtracted from you poetry when comparing how you used to write 3 years ago and now.
Things I’ve added: My own voice and a dose of self belief .
Things I’ve removed: Long poems

How many books did you read in 2013 (guestimate) and of those books which one made the most impact on you?
It’s more like how many books have I left unfinished! #Hides The Alchemist though spoke to me, I read it at the right time in my life. I am on track

How do you choose the subject matter you write on?
I write about unsettling issues

What inspires your fashion sense?
Colour.

Mandi2Photographer: Morne Van Tonder

Name 3 of your all time favourite poems\ Poetry performances?
Whoa! What a tough question! 😦 Only 3! Hmmm…

  • Andrea Gibson – Ashes
  • Mpho Khosi – Nkosi Skelela I-Africa
  • Jasmine Mans – Roses-Little Girls

You’ve traveled quite a bit and got to be on the Poetry Africa stage as a performer…what were the highlights of that festival?
A Godly band called Insurrections. The boat ride on day 1 so we could break the ice. Chilling with the poets after the evening shows and the conversations we had. My performance night, I’ve never felt closer to God than I did on that stage that night. That is my best performance to date.

Name your pre performance rituals? (things you’ve found you do mostly before performing whether before leaving home or before getting on stage)
I sit in silence, then I give thanks for the stage, the art-form and the audience. It is in that moment that I am reminded I’m blessed. I always recite a gratitude prayer. Then I breathe, to silence the nerves and I literally zone out of my surroundings until i hear my name.

What are your thoughts on competitive poetry slams and how some poets feel that it sidelines some performers?
I’m tired of that “what about us/me self pity”! IF YOU WANT TO SLAM, SIGN UP ON THE OPEN MIC AND SLAM! It’s a public domain available to those who arrive early at Word N Sound. If you seek non-competitive poetry platforms, there are stages for you to sign up, just do it!

I feel as though people want to perform but they are too proud to be on an open mic stage. They want to receive a personal invite, yet we’ve never seen you strut your stuff anywhere. Most poetry session commence with an open mic. Use the open mic, you never know whose watching!!

PS: If it wasn’t for the OPEN MIC, no one would know my work!

You find a bottle containing a poetry genie and he grants you 3 wishes …
1 – I need more wishes!
2 – I need acres and acres of land, to build an arts center with all the facilities, we need to be productive.
3 – I’d like to own a broadcasting station, make it happen!

What is one thing you’d change about the current state of poetry?
I’d create main stream platforms just for POETRY and we’d explore various ways of making the truth entertaining.

What is one thing you’d want to instantly perfect in your own abilities as a performer/writer?
I have so many concepts I’d love to incorporate in my performances. I need to write more incredible poems in a shorter space of time. These poems take too long to complete.

What is the one thing you wish all up and coming poets could do or understand when it comes to the art of spoken word?
Respect the art. The poet is not bigger than the poem!

Looking at the Mandi you are now in the poetry circles and looking back at the poet you were when you started out…if you were to meet that past self today, what would you say to her?
Had you been this focused from the get go, it would have taken you 2 years not 3 to be where you are today!!! 🙂

Mandi1Photographer: Philani Hadebe

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#WNSFEST INTERVIEW: RORA [Roar of the Lion] – Rollution Creations

From inception, The Word N Sound Poetry and Live Music Series has been designed as a platform to stimulate the creative economy, through the promotion of the arts in general with live music and poetry [specifically] at the center of this enterprise.

In this regard the team behind Word N Sound have always tried to ensure that other art forms are represented at events. One of the staples of this endeavor has been our partnership with the crafts brand RORA – Rollution Creations.

We caught up with the heart and brains behind this growing brand, Rolland Simpi Motaung to pick gain insight into his views on RORA‘s relationship with WNS, his thoughts on the Open Mic League and the future…

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WNS: You have been with Word N Sound since inception, how has the journey been for you?

We started this artistic relationship with Word n Sound back in 2011 when the venue was at Bassline, our aim has always been to source and find potential markets for our crafts/products and brand. The WnS events were one the first in Johannesburg we sold at, the journey has been great, mutually beneficial, the people have supported us greatly over the years, and we have grown in understanding the poetry market.

WNS: What has the positives and negatives of associating your brand with WNS?

The goal with us selling at poetry or any art related event is not only to expose the art of Crafting, but to allow these art disciplines to interact, demonstrate how art is connected. Apart from the constant branding and getting new clients, the positives have been about adding creative value to the poetry experience, the audience doesn’t only have to take the Word home but also a memoir, and the Open Mic Slam winners also get to walk away with hand crafted prizes. Also being one of the main sponsors of the WNS Annual Festival for the 2nd time around is humbling.

The challenge has been low sales at some events and the misconceptions that RORA only exists within the WnS platforms.

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WNS: Would you say that there is a market for your range, especially looking at the people who buy your goods?

Most defiantly YES!! We wouldn’t have continued with the relationship if we didn’t have a market. Over the years the crowd has evolved, students have always been the bulk of our clients (especially females) yet the working class market has grown amazingly.

WNS: What would you say still needs to be worked on to grow both brands; ie Word N Sound and RORA?

Consistency from both parties in regards to certain business aspects. Further growth of markets/audiences/artists in other provinces, there’s a demand for both brands (poetry and crafts) and creative expression in general. Most importantly there’s a need for the development of the arts, especially workshops on how artists can grow their entrepreneurial/business skills, and rendering  tools on how/where to publish, contract drafting/reading, branding, intellectual property issues, etc

WNS: Where do you see your brand situated in the overall scheme of things within the poetry scene?

RORA means to roar (a lion’s roar) in seTswana, a metaphoric reference meaning to express and discover your true self, the brand’s ethos is grounded on the belief that Passion Is Purpose; so we want to be known as a brand that adds betterment to society. And overall continue with more sponsorship, endorsements and partnering with art organizations to develop new avenues to stimulate the creative economy not only in poetry but in the arts in general.

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WNS: Speaking Poetry, who would you say has been the most consistent performer in this year’s slam and why?

No-Life has been exceptional. From the Emonti on Bree stages, solo and along side Ahimsa as Forgotten Planet to now.WOW!!. His writing, concepts and themes have grown immensely and have captured a lot of people with his raw-aggressive-emcee-like style of delivery. Kagiso Tshepe’s Manufacturing King still blows my mind. And its always great to see sister poets being consistent in their work and getting the praise they deserve, hence its no surprise to see Mapule Mohulatsi and Mandi Vundla (again) among the Top 5 for this year’s Open Mic League Final.

WNS: Is there a poet whom you would like to see your brand dressing?

We have started with informal discussions with Mandi “Poefficient” Vundla specifically within the WordnSound circles, and she has represented the brand well this far, recently being at the Poetry Africa Festival in Durban, last month. Tumelo Khoza has been fully behind the brand, and still roaring across the shores in Chicago,USA. Various other poets have embraced our brand including Myesha Jenkins, Natalia Molebatsi, Phillipah Ya Devilliers, and DC Poetry Slam Team from Washington, USA. So our aim is to sustain the relationship and work with like minded poets who are willing to walk and roar with the brand

WNS: When will we get a chance to see you climbing on the WNS slam stage?

Hahaha… When my spirit grants me the will to constantly write and perform again. As an artist I work from a basis of spirituality, a creative energy has to invoke me so deep that I cant sleep at night but create, over the past four its been fabric, thread and needle that dictate my artistic production.

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WNS: Which would you say is “easier”, climbing on stage to share a poem or two, or having to come up with designs that capture people’s imaginations?

None is easier, both art forms have their own intriguing creative processes. An art form is ‘easier’ when it’s constantly practiced and perfected everyday, when you work hard at learning and improving it. I was an active performer during high school around 2002 and the sewing started being hectic late 2009, after the company was registered. The transition was between 2010/2011 where I would sell at events and at the same time sign up to perform, a demanding task, hence I decided to stick to the crafting business.

WNS: Where should we expect to see RORA in the next year and onward and would you keep your association with WNS?

Yes, we will still be with WnS. Set up more endorsement deals, more exciting designs/crafts, more products going continental and outernational, partnerships/collaborations and adding to the development of the Arts . To infinity and beyond basically, lol.

Download RORA: Rollution Creations Price list here: Pricelist011

 

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#WNSFEST Interview: THABISO “AFURAKAN” MOHARE

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WNS: Who is the one great south African poet [dead or alive] that you would kill or die to slam against?

AFURAKAN: Lesego Rampolokeng! Purely because I would never win, however, the honey is in the fight. It’s just one of those word battles you want to come out of bleeding and torn to shreds. But still live to talk about it …

… Also because I can’t think of anyone dead or alive who would want to f#*k with Lesego Rampolokeng .. Next question …

WNS: You came up during the explosion of the performance poetry scene, what would you say the difference is between that era of the movement and the current slam dominated era we are experiencing right now?

AFURAKAN: Wow! Did you just call me an old man? Any way … The movement that broke through around 1999 through to 2005 was an exciting yet limited phenomenon. I think for the first time, black youth were redefining what poetry was accepted as in South Africa. Mainly raised on hip hop, jazz, reggae and blues, this generation of writers was concerned mainly with issues of freedom and its promises, identity, self-consciousness and the new African century to name a few.

However, the movement was primarily rasta and black consciousness based and certain mundane issues such as acceptable dress code and image at poetry events and the circular topics, meant that new and potential audiences were immediately excluded from participating. This was the primary reason that retarded this beautiful and vibrant movement.

Still, some broke through and it was those who had a global perspective of poetry both written and spoken. These would include Tumi Molekane, Lebo Mashile, Napo Mashiane, Kojo Baffoe, Kabomo, Mak Manaka and Flo Mokale to name a few.

The current slam / performance based movement is firstly open to a wider net of audiences. It has embraced individuality and instead put a square focus on writing and performance. The current rejuvenation of poetry has also benefited from the introduction and constant growth of online based social media platforms.

Another difference would be the current era’s experimentation and incorporation of theater and multimedia elements and fashion to enhance the performance and overall presentation of their work. The new age poet also has global insight of poetry and spoken word as a worldwide movement and their role both locally as change agents and as part of a universal network.

WNS: What is your biggest writing quirk/superstition?

AFURAKAN: Honestly, either I don’t have one or this question went over my head.

WNS: We’re still waiting for your book, and official follow up of your ep, what can you tell us?

AFURAKAN: What do you want to hear? What’s the rush? Is work that I wrote 10 years ago still not fresher than most? Next question

WNS: If the future were to unfold exactly the way you’d want it, what’s in store for Word N Sound?

AFURAKAN: When our kids and grandkids get on stage for the first time and it’s a Word N Sound platform, then we will know that we have succeeded in building a generational tool and resource that will change how writing is viewed and consumed in the world while providing a spring board for writers to thrive in the literary and performance careers. For now, it’s back to the grind!

WNS: Your career is dotted with collaborative efforts, membership of creative collectives [Brotherhood, 7, Soul 2 Mouth, etc], please tell us about the strengths and weaknesses of these types of initiatives and collectives? What happened to these initiatives and collectives?

AFURAKAN: Some collaborative initiatives work out while others don’t but it is in the trial and error that we learn how to be both leader and follower. The beauty of collaborations is that there is joint effort and resources thus making work easier and faster. However, the decision making process can be long and drawn-out while also trying to manage individual points of view and interests.

The collectives that I have been a part of have helped me develop as an artist, entrepreneur and also as a young black man living in #Johustleburg. These collaborative have over the years faded either as they had served their purpose or because of personal developments in the collective, and sometimes because of creative differences or lack of commitment. Each still a learning experience that has helped propel me thus far.

WNS: From the early 2000’s you’ve been part of initiatives [Poetry in Locomotion, WordNSound to name just 2]  to create and maintain platforms for poets [and related artists], how and why did you go this route and how important has this decision been not just for you as a poet but also as an arts administrator/activist?

AFURAKAN: Firstly, if we don’t do it then who is going to? The broader question is that do we want to just be artists/ participants in the creative industries or do we also want own a piece of it? So if we say that we want ownership then we first need to accept that we will not be the real owners in our lifetime but our children and grandchildren will. Someone has to start from scratch and lay the foundation so that it is easier for the next generation to propel this movement to even greater heights.

Secondly, I am fascinated by the creative industry in Africa and the influence and potential it has. I want to be a part of this amazing time and space – the African creative century.

Last but not least, I like running shit!

WNS: What happened to your album?

AFRURAKAN: Quick check the answer to Question 4 and come straight back!

WNS: 7 was a rather progressive socio-political theatrical poetry experiment… 7 “black” male poets, celebrating the streets they come from and the streets that make them equal. Tell us more about it? Who was part of this initiative and what was its impact?

AFURAKAN: Can we have a coffee about this one? Long, long but fun and amazing story … but there people who were involved were Kojo Baffoe, Kabomo Vilakazi, Flo Mokale, Mak Manaka, Ayob Vania, Common Man and Afurakan.

Coffeee … anyone?

WNS: What question would you most like to be asked in an interview? Why? And how would you answer it?

AFURAKAN: I am an equal opportunity question answered thus I do not discriminate against other questions. I treat all questions the same as they are all important … lol …moving right along.

WNS: You are most famous for standing in a cypher with GOD, what do you think your killer punchline in the cypher was? What would a cypher with Lucifer the light-bearer sound/feel/look like?

AFURAKAN:

Killer Punchline

“… even if you were a staff and I was the red sea you still couldn’t split me …”

 Cypher with Lucifer? ….

“So it was that 21 eons had passed | and my tongue from God’s magical jar was freed at last | took a gasp | vision return to Lucifer waiting with an ax | swinging beautiful wrath | of a million hells ancient and possessed. | So what’s next …”

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#WNSFEST Interview: ANDREW MANYIKA

Andrew_Poster

So what do Poetry Festivals, Award Shows, Weddings and Fashion Shows have in common?  They’re all events where Andrew Manyika has plied his trade as a Poet, Comedian, and MC.

Sometimes referred to as “the Gentleman of Poetry” due to his penchant for wearing 3-piece suits, Andrew has made quite an impact on the local poetry scene since winning his first ever slam. This was the Gauteng Drama For Life Slam in 2011; and he placed second in the DFL National Grand Slam.

Since venturing into performance poetry and comedy, Andrew has taken to stages including the Johannesburg International Motor Show 2011 (for team Mazda); TEDx Johannesburg 2013; The opening of the LAE Gallery; The UJISS Merit Awards 2013; State Theatre: Night of the Poets 2012. He has been extensively involved in WordNSound since 2012, twice being a finalist in their Open Mic League, MCing several episodes of their series, as well as the Inaugural WNS Poetry Awards (For which he was nominated in the category “Perfect Poem”).

Over the years, Andrew has proven himself to be a capable poet and comedian, having performed at Parkers, The Box, Kitcheners, The Comedy Underground and various private functions. His unique combination of skills (poetry and comedy), allows him to lend a fresh perspective to MCing.

Andrew is born again and endeavours to let this shine through in his art. As the holder of a BCom in Marketing Management; and a BCom (Hons) in Strategic Management, Andrew definitely sees himself as an entrepreneur .

We caught up with Andrew in Soweto recently this is what he had to say:

WNS: What is your biggest pre performance / writing quirk?

AM: I yawn. Like, world-swallowing; breath-leaving-body; drawn-out-sigh type o’ yawning. I think it’s my body trying to manage my nerves before getting on stage. I’m cool by the time I hit the stage though. Also, Pastor Rick Warren, whom I really look up to, once said “Don’t stand before man, without kneeling before God”, so I pray before every show.

My biggest pre-writing quirk? I procrastinate…hard.

WNS: What influence does your poetry have on your comedy or visa versa?

AM: Comedians = storytellers; poets=storytellers. So, I view all stage time as an opportunity to learn. I’m constantly learning technique, delivery, and the dynamics of a crowd and how to create or maintain a certain kind of ambience.

The writing processes are different for me. I write poetry for myself, but by it’s nature, I write comedy for the audience.

WNS: How important is your image as a performer?

AM: It’s very important. As a performer, you become the product and it’s promoter. So there are elements to a “product”, one of which is the packaging. It must be appealing to look at you, and you can achieve that by how you dress, hence this year I’ve been seen wrapped in a suit and tie. Next year we’ll explore other forms of packaging perhaps.

Image is also important in terms of what it is that you purport to stand for. People respond to you if they feel you are being genuine, and they respect you if they can tell you are being consistent.

WNS: Why should one vote for the EFF?

AM: The same reason you’d vote for anybody else: if you believe in their policies.

WNS: Slam vs set performances. Your take?

AM: If I understand the question, you’re contrasting “slam” against “non-competitive performance poetry”? if so, I would say everything has its’ place. In general though I prefer pages to stages (of all kinds); but I understand the capacity of live performance in terms of entertainment value and audience reach, and I enjoy It too. Set performances and slam to me, are very much different sides of one face (on one side of the same coin…& I’m being long-winded again).

WNS: What will the history books say about you?

AM: “Andrew Manyika won souls for Christ. He loved words and story-telling and wrote everything from poems to business proposals. He wrote them well. A family man with a high tailor bill (because he had to get his pants shortened a lot) and dry-cleaning bill (from wearing his heart on his sleeve), he challenged, changed and introduced ideas about things…and he was taller in real life than he looks in the pictures.

WNS: If you were in a slam with God, what would your killer punchline be?

AM: “You literally made time to slam with me | put me in the place of Christ, and said I’m your family | I know you paid the price, for this great life you handed me | made me a branch in the Grapevine | slow matured cause soul-saving takes time | so now my stance when I make rhymes | is to speak the Truth, be no pretender | I get that my victory lies in you, so I surrender. We win”

Those lines were actually kind of nice, so I think I may actually use them.

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