Category Archives: Open Mic League Top 5

Introducing the top 6…yep 6!

Remember remember the 6th

It was the first Saturday of the month and as our hordes of faithful fans know, that just means it’s Word N Sound Saturday. So we said to ourselves, “We’ll have a show”; and Eskom said “No, you won’t”. And so it was with great sadness, that for the first time in the history of Word N Sound Poetry and Live Music Series, we had to cancel an episode due to a power outage in Newtown that affected our venue.

As a testament to how big a part of our lives the show has become, it wasn’t until a good two hours after the notices announcing the cancellation had gone up, that the last of our audience members left (still in disbelief), and we thank you for that support.

So, I know what you’re thinking, “If the show got cancelled, and the festival begins in less than a month, who’s competing in the Open Mic Finale?”

This question also presented an interesting conundrum to the team at Word N Sound; and after much deliberation, some raised voices, tears, and of course sandwiches; we came to a resolution that we hope meets everybody as close to halfway as possible.

The League standings on the morning of the 6th

10. Southern Comfort – 458 points
9. Apiwe – 459 points
8. Puleng Zealot – 473 points
7. Monica Fumez – 642 points
6. Zewande Bhengu – 732 points
5. No LIFE – 750 points
4. Bafentse Ntlokoa – 772 points
3. Nkosinathi Gaar – 901.5 points
2. Thando Bhuthelezi – 963 points
1. Xabiso Vili – 1 230 points

Looking at the average points scored each month, Zewande Bhengu had the best chance of making it into the Top 5 had this month’s slam taken place. We have therefore decided to go with a Top 6 as there is not enough time to host another slam before the Festival that kicks off on 3 October.

At this point I would just like to reiterate that this was not a decision that we took lightly but it was imperative for us to plot a way forward. And so, for the first time in the 4year history of the Word N Sound International Youth Poetry & Live  Music Festival, there will be Six (6) contestants vying for the coveted King/Queen of the Mic title, and they are: Bafentse Ntlokoa, Nkosinathi Gaar, Zewande #McMora Bhengu, NoLIFE, Xabiso Vili, and Thando Bhuthelezi.

We foresee fireworks in our future, and trust you’ll be there to see them at the Word N Sound International Youth Poetry + Live Music Festival: 3-8 October in Johannesburg & Cape Town.

Who will take the Queen/King of the Mic title?

With every Word N Sound Series comes the question who is taking the Queen/King of the Mic title? Last month NoLIFE took the title after his provocative piece about corrective rape earned him a near perfect score.

Poetic Butterfly returned to the WNS stage after close to two years to take the number 2 spot. Pretoria poets turned up the heat, giving Jozi poets a run for their money on home ground. Bella, representing the capital city took 3rd place, while Claudia Mac (sometimes known as Xongani when she’s not so angry) and Bafentse took 4th and 5th places.

With 4 ladies in the hotly contested Word N Sound Open Mic Poetry League Top 5, all we can say is: ‘Who said women don’t slam?’

‘I Stand Corrected’ by NoLIFE
235 points (King of the Mic)

‘Kade Kwabanje’ by Poetic Butterfly
214.5 points

‘Balloons’ by Bella
212 points

‘Untitled’ by Claudia Mac
210.5 points

‘Awe’ by Bafentse
209 points

The Runners Up
6. Xabiso – 207 points
7. Apiwe – 201 points
8. Nkosinathi – 188.5 points
9. Puleng – 178 points
10. Bulumko – 177 points

Join us this Saturday at the Market Theatre Laboratory for the next round of the Word N Sound Open Mic Poetry League Slam. The slam is open to all poets, all you have to do is arrive early enough to sign up.


Ep 1 – Top 5: Xabiso Vili

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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Ep 1 – Top 5: Bafentse Ntlokoa

S4E1_Bafentse“Nothing quite beautifies the ugly and unbearable in the way that art does.” – Bafentse Ntlokoa

1. What inspired the poem you performed at the last Word N Sound Series and what message were you trying to convey through it?
A few things. Firstly, ‘beautiful like a gaping wound’ is one of my favourite complements to give (and receive though I haven’t ever). It’s not pretty but it’s undressed, it’s vulnerable, it’s messy, it’s inside out and so honest that it can’t help (well to me anyway) but be beautiful. And then it’s my love-hate (mostly love) relationship with romanticism because of how it exaggerates beauty and humans can be so literal in our interpretation that the peeling away of the romance can be very achy but in the same breath it’s also necessary to help us survive ourselves, it’s the orange with the castor oil to clean our insides. And nothing quite beautifies the ugly and unbearable in the way that art does so it’s my ode to that particular art form. It’s also having observed poets transform their deepest pain into the most beautiful art works that inspire life to hold on to itself just a little longer.

2. Take us through your creating process; how the lines come together, the memorizing and performance?
I guess I  listen for the memory of the feeling of what I’m trying to portray and search my mind for the story and the metaphors of how most exciting (for me) I could tell it.

3. Name 3 of your favourite poets currently?
Mutle Mothibe (no bias I swear) he astounds me and keeps getting better all the time. Kagiso Tshepe the imagery that live in dude’s head though and Mandi Poeficient Vundla is an Epic tale for me.

4. Can you take us back to the first time you fell in love with poetry? Can you remember the poem or where this took place?
I was 10 years old, watching the movie Poetic Justice and hearing Janet Jackson reciting Maya Angelo’s phenomenal woman and even more than the phenomenal woman described I felt a deeper desire to have been the author who designed her with words.

5. Name 3 of your favourite books?

  • A Thousand Names For Joy by Byron Katie,
  • Star Book by Ben Okri
  • Eat Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert
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