Category Archives: Profiles

Showcasing the Queen of the Mic…

All Hail Thando Buhelezi Reigning Queen of the Mic

All Hail Thando Buhelezi
Reigning Queen of the Mic

Thando ‘The Poet’ Buthelezi blazed a remarkable trail through Season 4 of the WordNSound Poetry Slam League in 2014. A feat she brilliantly topped off with stellar performances at the Annual WordNSound International Youth Poetry Festival at the Soweto Theatre in October where she was ultimately crowned the Queen of the Mic.

She says that the endearing lesson she walked away from her yearlong battle on the WNS Slam stage was of disciplinehard-work and commitment to all aspects of her craft. Heading this lesson paid off, as Thando adamantly made her way through to the end not just for herself but for all those who supported her all the way.

What added to her spectacular journey was that Thando strives to write in and incorporates as much isiZulu into her work as possible and says: “Writing in Zulu is actually hard. I had to read, I had to learn, even the accent. I had to work on it because I had gotten used to the English way of writing”.

As the reigning Queen of the Mic Thando ‘The Poet’ Buthelezi will showcase her her witty wordplay and ethnically inspired writing as the feature Poet at the Premier Episode to Season 5 of the WordNSound Poetry League.

In closing Thando’s advice to those who want to slam in this years’ WNS Poetry League would be to take the Word N Sound stage seriously, and to do this for themselves more than to compete.

Video clips of our previous interaction with Thando:

Thando Buthelezi…:

  • … is a Johannesburg based EMCEE, Songwriter and poet.
  • … first entered the scene in 2009 as just a rapper  before venturing into poetry late 2012
  • … has performed at many shows and has shared the stage with various poetry greats,
  • … has earned championship titles at slam Competitions and featured on hip hop mixtapes.
  • … fuses her poems with music and theatrical elements and makes use of Props and writing poetry in her Zulu language
  • … has made guest appearances on: YO-TV’s Blue Couch, Mzansi Insider and Soweto TV.
  • … has being granted platforms such as Eldos FM, VoW FM, Mogale FM, Rainbow and UJ FM to showcase her work
  • … writings has been published in various print media.
  • … participated in the DSTV tour across JHB CBD taxi ranks to raise awareness on women and child abuse.
  • … was selected to be a part of the Phenominal 9 women tour which happens annually on women’s day to celebrate sisters that are doing well within the arts.
  • … co-founded  the Sandton Poetry festival which celebrated Poetry movements that existed in and around Johannesburg.
  • … is currently recording her debut Poetry Audio Tape due for release layer this year
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And in this corner… Introducing the Top 6 Contenders for the crown!

Top6

Ahead of the 4th annual Word N Sound International Youth Poetry Festival, we sent our members of our content team into the training camps of the Top 6 Contenders for the coveted 2014 Open Mic Champion title. Our mission was to see who would rattle who between our fearless contributors and these warriors while trying to find out more about them.

Before we profile each of them we decided to tease you a bit. Accordingly we asked Kgotatso Maditse [the newest member of our content team] to put together an introductory package, so let’s find out why these Contenders think they should win, and what they will be bringing to the stage.

Thando

Nothando Nelisiwe Buthelezi is a writer and poet. She writes poetry, scripts, music and plays. Thando turns to writing to vent frustrations and bring healing not only to herself but also to others. In her own words, she writes for “the rural ones who write in Zulu and don’t have a formal way of writing”.

If she wasn’t a writer though, Thando says she wouldn’t mind being a cyclist because of her love of bicycles.

Props must be given to her for writing in Zulu. Poems like uThembeka have literally brought tears to Word N Sound audience eyes, but she admits that it doesn’t come as easily as it sounds.

“Writing in Zulu is actually hard. I had to read, I had to learn, even the accent. I had to work on it because I had gotten used to the English way of writing”

Asked why she should win, she simply said “because I want that money!”

Thando

Nkosinathi Gaar

Theatre director and actor Nkosinathi Gaar says he’s been trying to get to the top for a while, and finally, he is here. This multi-talented and multi-lingual, young man speaks three languages fluently [one being German], and also plays the guitar, and bass, and is a competent songwriter.

A consummate lover of words and ideas and “how they come together”, Nkosinathi admits he feels compelled to write because it is important to, “anchor down experiences and emotion and try to give them voice. Writing has the capacity to change things, which I think is important”.

One cannot miss his animated face and general mannerism, but this is not an alter ego, rather different aspects of himself.

No stranger to the poetry scene, and the stage in general, Nkosinathi feels he should win simply because, “I’m a strong writer and performer”

Nkosinathi

Xabiso

When he is not blowing peoples’ minds away, Xabiso Vili is running events, as well as writing and performance workshops in Pretoria, and the greater GP, in hopes of building a strong portfolio for him to study drama therapy.

Xabiso has a deep passion for art and its remedies and says he writes to make sense of himself and his inner workings, of society and how he relates to society and vice versa. He believes art is a powerful medium which is important to “better not only ourselves, but our communities. Art has the capacity to do that”.

Having grown up watching Jo’burg poets on various stages, Xabiso feels blessed, lucky and excited to be in the finals, and believes he should win because he is “Sharing an honesty other people relate to!”

Oh, and he’s not fond of losing.

Xabiso

NoLIFE

Once upon a time, there was a graffiti artist that would write “(No)body (LI)ves (F)or(E)ever, which then got shortened to NoLIFE. A lover of hip-hop, poet and rapper Carlos NoLIFE Ncube, also known as Snooty Esoteric, is back in the top 5. Well, 6 this time.

Some of his poems have a tone that can easily be read as anger, but NoLIFE says that’s just how his passion translates.

“I believe passion is driven by anger. But I also believe that passion has multiple facets. So for different people it manifests through other emotions whereas for me it manifests in what seems to be anger.”

A self-professed minimalist, NoLIFE says that all he is bringing to the stage is all his words and passion.

“Language is binding, so it is all about sharing perspective and creating discussion. Writing is a personal public thing for me!”

Asked why he should win, he says it’s time he harvests the fruits of his labour. “Poetry is war, and I’m armed!”

NoLIFE

Bafentse

After a 7 year hiatus from the stage, poet Bafentse Ntlokoa, says she wasn’t even competing when performing on the Word N Sound stage earlier this year, she was just performing.

“I kind of missed performing on stage, and I like Word N Sound because it has bright lights and you can’t really see the audience. It was about performing.”

Some of her poems, like “Beautiful Like A Gaping Wound”, sound like odes; like she is in awe of her subject.

“I marvel at life… In all its vastness, in all its contradiction. I’m a seeker and enquirer of life, constantly questioning things. Like why I do whatever I do? Why I participate in whatever I participate in? So I marvel at how it’s ever changing, and it’s so vast. And there’s so much more of my own self to discover all of the time. So many layers.”

Excited to be in the Top 6, Bafentse says she should win because, “My writing is raw and honest … and me!”

Bafentse

Zewande

Zewande Bhengue, also known as #Mcmora, was a finalist in the Slam For Your Life National Poetry Slam earlier this year, and now, is a contender for the Open Mic Champion title.

Zewande takes performance poetry to a whole new level, so he brings along his words, sounds, theatre (even chains and bare backs) to the stage. He is on a mission to bring something different and unique to the stage.

“It’s for this same reason that I want to take a break from slamming next year. I just want to explore slam and try to expand it beyond what it is understood as being. So I am trying to do something that other people are not doing. It adds quite a lot, for myself but for the audience as well, to get a picture of where the poem is coming from. That’s why I do that.”

Zewande wants to be remembered for his dedication to his art.

“I want to be remembered for being a guy who gave his all to art, and all art-forms that I engage because I do quite a bit outside of poetry. So I want to be known as the guy who not only gave his all but was also successful in all those art-forms.”

Asked why he should win, Zewande says he doesn’t know, but if he were to give a reason in 6 words, he thinks he should be crowned, “Because I’m better!”

Zewande

The battle lines have clearly been drawn. One thing is for sure, each of these warrior is aware of their formidable opponents and the pressure is on. Now let the games begin!

That being said, we are all dying to see what the Top 6 have in store for us.

Oh, just in case you wanted to know, our hard-hitting contributors held their own during their encounters with the Top 6 Warriors, but the war is not over so that’s a story for another day.

In Word and Sound we trust!

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9 young writers to look out for

To mark World Poetry Day (21 March), Word N Sound would like to salute the young writers who have gotten us excited about poetry and keep us motivated and inspired to keep pushing when things get tough.

Kurt Schröder, Modise Sekgothe, Zewande Bhengu, Roach Du Plessis, Apiwe Mjambane, Elysium Garcia, Bafentse Ntlokoa, Xongani Maluleka, Nkululeko Ngwenya you are amazing and we salute you.

Kurt Schröder

Kurt Ludwig Schröder is a Poet/Storyteller based in Pretoria, South Africa. He is currently completing his final year of undergrad studies in Human Movement Sciences at the University of Pretoria. While he studies and works in the field of sport, he has always enjoyed creative writing and drama.

Kurt is relatively new to performance poetry. He is a fresh young story-teller who started writing and performing poetry in early 2012. Most of his content is based on personal life-stories and experiences, and he strives to share art that will “re-sensitize” a numb and desensitized world. Kurt co-founded and co-directed a Pretoria-based poetry movement called “Spoken Sessions” which successfully hosted monthly poetry events from June/July 2012 until January 2014.

Kurt recently started working closely with Emote Record Company to record and produce his poems and stories. Kurt dreams of one day traveling the world to share his poetry.

Modise Sekgothe


Modise Sekgothe has been a writer for the past 6 years since 2007 having begun as an abstract Hip-Hop lyricist for the first 3 years. His exploration of Performance Poetry began in the year 2010 as a member of the UJ Poetry Society formally known as “Fore.Word Society”.

He has headlined and performed in all their major annual shows as an individual and in collaboration with a number of other prolific poets and performers. Aside from this, he has graced many stages throughout Johannesburg either in the form of slams, poetry competitions or open mike sessions. To mention a few, he performed as a guest performer in the regional semi-finals of the DFL lover And Another semi-finals in 2011. He has also recently performed as a representative of “Fore.Word Society” at the Izimbongi Poetry Festival 2012.

Aside from his experience as a Performance Poet, he has also quite recently explored other avenues of theatre through drama. He has thus far been part of three professional theatre productions under the UJ Drama Company. The first of these was “SA Shorts” which premiered at the Grahamstown National Arts Festival in 2012 and was also staged at the University of Johannesburg Theatre. Followed by “The Boy Who Fell From The Roof” which was part of the “ThatSoGay Festival” hosted by the UJ Drama Company also in 2012. Lastly, in the current year of 2013, he was part of “Equus”, the prolific play by Peter Shaffer, also under the UJ Drama Company.

Further explorations of both drama and poetry came in the form of a poetical or dramatic poetry independent-theatre production called “The Funeral”. “The Funeral” was conceptualised, directed and co-written by Simo Mpapa Majola including co-writers, Modise Sekgothe, Obakeng Makhutle, Nyameko Nkondlwane and Lakai Saadiq.

Zewande Bhengu

Zewande Bhengu is a growing, ambitious theatre director who has a strong opinion on the socio-political, the national economical and the general world of arts and recreation. His journey in art began at an elementary level with short poems and further on in high school, he began to perform poetry at school functions.

In 2007 he moved to Johannesburg to study Dramatic Arts at the National School of the Arts, during that time he performed in a number of poetry sessions, open mic sessions, expressions night and the like. He directed a number of poetic works at this time and his best work was ‘The Speakers’ that earned him platinum certificates upon its success. He also co-founded Night Vigil Sessions which was hosted at the South Point Building (Norvic House).

He was part of the ’21 Poets and Poem’ cast which played at the Jo’burg Theatre Space.Com and the Jo’burg Theatre Fringe Stage. His later successful work was when he co-wrote and directed FIRE:BURN, which was staged in 2013 during Wits University Orientation-Week, The National Arts Festival, 969 Festival and had its last run at the Drama For Life Festival. He has since won the All Res Council Talent Show, The Christian Action Fellowship Talent Show (Twice) and in a display of versatility, took second place at the Transformation Office’ Photographic Competition. He later took the King of the Mic tilte at the Word N Sound Series Season 4 Episode 1.

Roach Du Plessis

I started writing when I was about 15, with the intention of composing lyrics for a band that hadn’t even existed yet. I went on to play bass in many bands, (and now currently for Brainwreck), while my lyric books piled up.

At the age of 24, I went to Brighton in the UK, where I rediscovered my love for poetry in the form of spoken word at a venue called the Sanctuary. At that point, I dusted off my lyric sheets and got back into writing. Since then, I’ve gotten involved with Poetry collectives such as House of Hunger, Gold Peanuts, Liquid Tongue and Word N Sound, often taking part in their slams and open mics.

Through Poetry, I try to convey concern for topics that the public are kept blind to. I wouldn’t say I’m entirely political, but I do address issues that matter, while touching on subjects that remind us of our humanity and the importance of individuality.

I aim to make my writing extend as far as possible, but I do feel that if I can reach at least one person, and make them think or feel, my objective has been achieved.

Apiwe Mjambane

I am a 22 year old upcoming spoken word poet. I am random, I love music and I enjoy my own company. I am a social misfit to put it mildly.

It all started in 2005 when I was completing Grade 9 at the East London Science College in the Eastern Cape. I didn’t know much about urban poetry at the time but I wanted to deliver an assigned oral task in a new, more exciting way. I had just discovered that I could communicate differently. That I could speak poetry. And I kept it a secret until I came to Johannesburg.

In 2010, with my move to this concrete jungle, I began attending and performing at open mic poetry sessions. That is when I realised that I was not just entertaining what most people call a ‘hobby’ I was actually practising the ideal way of communicating with different souls. I think that’s one of the reasons I enjoy writing.

After studying journalism at the Boston Media House I started building my profile as an Artist. I have grown a lot in my craft. I am currently part of a spoken word organisation called Word N Sound Live Poetry and Music Series a platform which grants me the opportunity to express my love for language and self-expression.

Nkululeko Ngwenya

Nkululeko Ngwenya, better known as Page is a 20 year old poet from Durban, South Africa. Also a B Sc Marine Biology student at UKZN Westville Campus he only started really performing on 2011 but has already been accepted in the circles and hearts of where he’s been. He describes his poetry as, himself; saying “my poetry draws from characters such as my father and other close family as I do myself”.

He has performed at Jomba! , Word N Sound Experience, Give Me Ten Mics, Cup O’ Thought and other nationally prestigious arts festivals. He was one third of the Poetry Africa SlamJam team against the European team from the Ordsprak Festival (Sweden) on the 16th Poetry Africa Festival in 2012 as well as being chosen the next year again to partake as the prelude poet for the 17th Poetry Africa Festival he is nowhere near stopping as he was first to be revealed as one of the headliners at KwaZulu Poetry Festival this April. Slam poetry champion of Cup O’ Thought as well as winning many minor events of the same kind has seasoned Page as a performer to travel around South Africa performing in Pietermaritzburg, Vryheid, Eshowe, Johannesburg and many other places.

Words with which he lives his art are, “poetry is not only in the words, but in the world. It is in the land, in the air and mostly, in ourselves.”

Xongani Maluleka

Writer, poet and performer. Credited for her unmistakable truth telling and unique style of writing.

Xongani started writing in high school for the lack of original poetry in her literature syllabus. As there were not many writers at her school to inspire growth in her poetry, she took leave from writing until university when she joined the University of Johannesburg Fore.Word Poetry Society and began to blossom into an eminent performer.

She has performed for important stages including the Word N Sound Poetry Slam where she won second place in the August 2013 top five. Her showcase at the Next Generation ‘Let’s Talk Homosexuality’ show remains closest to her heart as it was there that her voice became an ally for the activism of LGBTI rights.

Xongani wishes to grow in her writing and performing to have a bigger and critical voice for her expression of truth and advocacy for courses that are socially ignored

Elysium Garcia

Elysium Garcia is a writer and performance poet. An artist from childhood, his writing is a peculiar gallery of imagination and dream scape. Inspired by works of magical realism, absurd fiction and texts of mysticism, he writes his poetry from an alternative perspective, or as he defines it; ‘The Shadows.’ Garcia has been seen on stages in Johannesburg, Durban, Pretoria and the Vaal.

In 2009, under a different forgotten name, he was part of a poetry collective formed at the Vaal University of Technology known as Secret Society 1696, blank compact discs were trafficked under seats at poetry shows with some of his’s primitive work of writing. It was not until 2010, that he opened up to a broader audience and came to Johannesburg to join and take part in the ever flourishing creative revolution of performance poetry.

Elysium has exhibited his work alongside many renowned names in the South African poetry community and international visitors respectively. He is one-third of Basic Channel, a poetry collective in Johannesburg currently working on numerous multimedia projects and literature products. He is the current Slam For Your Life champion and two times monthly (June and September) Word N Sound open mic poetry league king of the mic. His performance portfolio is comprised of performing at several poetry showcases and events in the country including a performance at TEDx Johannesburg in September 2013, Melville poetry festival (2013), Drama For Life poetry slam (2010), Izimbongi Poetry Festival (2011), Cup-O-Thought (Durban 2012), Current State of Poetry (2011), Likwid Tongue, UJ Poetry Festival (2010), he finished in the top 3 finalists of the first TEWOP Slam in 2012, top 10 finalist of the 2012 Word N Sound open mic league. He features in the 2012 Word N Sound poetry mix tape and KPN Live arts video mix tape.

Bafentse Ntlokoa

Born Sekang Bafentse Ntlokoa on the 26 of June 1985, this gifted mother of two fell in love with spoken word art after hearing Janet Jackson recite Maya Angelou’s ‘phenomenal woman’ in the movie Poetic Justice when she was only 10 years old. At age 16 she began scripting her own material but nothing she felt was poetry until age 21 when her spoken word artist boyfriend convinced her to take to the stage in 2006 at a poetry event organised by the VUT poetry society called Uvuko.

Bafentse did a few more performance in Johannesburg at Crammers coffee shop with balladry composition and some at Wits with but hasn’t always felt confident in her abilities as a spoken artist. It was only recently when she graced the stage with her enchanting piece called ‘beautiful like a gaping wound’ that the poetry public began to stand up and take note of this lyrical gem. Some patrons have been quoted as saying.

“If calligraphy had a sound, it would sound like the tone in your voice” -Sbusiso Simelane “Achingly honest, lyrically masterful, raw and gracefully eloquent at the same time, powerful yet dripping with delicate tenderness. I willingly flow where you flow” – Katlego Nakedi

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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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#WNSFEST Interview: VANGILE GANTSHO

Vangile_PosterVANGILE GANTSHO began performing seriously in 2005 but has been writing most of her life. She had her first real break performing at Rhyme Alive at the Moonbox Theatre in Pretoria (2005). Since then she has been privileged enough to perform on a variety of both cultural and corporate platforms countrywide.

Vangi co-founded The Jamm Sessions at the University of Pretoria (2005), which in turn lead to Revolutionary Words, and later evolved into The Writers’ Forum: a platform on which young, unknown artists can share their various art forms. In 2009, she saw her brainchild, When the Kats Cum Out to Play, come to life, with performances by incredible artists such as Myesha Jenkins and Nomsa Mazwai.  Until recently, she would have considered this intimate conversation with women through poetry and music to be her most fulfilling poetic experience to date, were it not for her recent standing ovation performance at the 2012 Annual Thabo Mbeki Africa Day Lecture.  The audience included former Presidents Thabo Mbeki, Olusegun Obasanjo, Joaquim Chissano and Pedro Pires as well as many other dignitaries from around Africa and the African diaspora.

As a writer, Vangi has had her work published in The Agenda, BKO, Baobab, Guilotine, was chosen as one of the Next Wave of Poetry Sistas of Love Life Uncut and was profiled and had her work included in UK-based magazine:  Sabel. She recently had the privilege of having Dr Don Mattera take her under his wing and has since organised a workshop called Conversations with Yesterday, where he agreed to sit down with a handful of young poets and discuss the challenges faced by young writers of today.  At present, she is in the process of completing her poetry collection which is being overseen by Dr Don Mattera.  She is a freelance writer, performer and performance coach, poet, blogger (www.vangisafrica.org), student; and you can find her jamming at (sometimes hosting) NO CAMP CHAIRS Poetry Picnic on the grass at the Union Buildings on the second Sunday of every month – a movement she co-founded beginning of 2011.

When we eventually got to sit down with this lover of words her boisterous, animated, hard-talking demeanor belied the gentle girly interior which we only slightly got to glimpse at during our sit-down…

WNS: You’re a poet, an intellect, an activist, and you wear a lot of dresses. These things we know. What mundane or diabolical thing don’t we know about Vangi Gantsho?

VG: I also wear a lot of skirts and all stars.  One of my favourite movies is Clueless.  I love painting my toes in lots of different colours.  At once.  I love limericks and nursery rhymes.

WNS: You’re a self-described blabbermouth, what do you like to blabber most about?

VG: Everything. I’m one of those people who has an opinion about almost everything so thee are few things that are off limits for me.

WNS: Have you seen the movie 27 Dresses? Did it “speak” to you?

VG: Lol!  Wow!  I have seen the movie.  And for the record… I’ve only been a bridesmaid once.  Lol.  On the real though…. Not really.  I’m not a marriage seeker.  Not even sure it’s something I want to venture in (forever is a long time and I’m not sure human beings are designed to be monogamous for that long… and other opinions).  So that movie is a brain fart for me.  And warm and fuzzy and funny because some of those dresses are hideous.

WNS: What is your biggest pre-performance quirk?

VG: I always just want to sleep.  I get so nervous, I just want to sleep.  Sometimes, I want to paint my nails or start singing my poems to make sure I remember the words.

WNS: Why poetry?

VG: Because I am an emotional creature.  And it’s the one medium that allows me to be that freely.  Plus I’m a good listener, which makes me a good messenger.

WNS: What question would you most like to be asked in an interview? Why? How would you answer that?

VG: I like being asked about my dresses. Because my mother makes most of them, and there is something special about performing in a dress that my mother has made just for me.  It also makes me feel held.  By her.

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#WNSFest Interview: Pilgrim

Pilgrim, real name Lucas Serei is a poet, visionary and performer. Born in Pretoria, Lucas moved to the Vaal-Triangle in the mid-90’s where he spent most of his childhood under the care of his grandparents. He was coached with nursery rhymes and ghost stories there, and it is also where his love for writing was born.

He has been building quite a formidable a name for himself in the Johannesburg poetry scene by performing at the Word N Sound Poetry and Music league; as well as being featured on the Word N Sound “Next Generation” Project.

Pilgrim_Poster

We recently caught up with Pilgrim for a quick Q&A regarding his forthcoming appearance at the 3rd Annual Word N Sound International Youth Poetry + Live Music Festival |Open Mic League Finale taking place on the 30th November 2013, and this is what he had to say:

WNS: What have been the pressures/challenges of having to perform on the Word N Sound stage each month?
Pilgrim: For me one of the biggest challenges was the writing process because in this case I was writing specifically for performance and to add on that challenge was ‘how’ I was to present my craft different and uniquely as I can.

WNS: What makes you think you are going to take this slam?
Pilgrim: I believe most people don’t knows a lot about Pilgrim, so my element of surprise will earn me a short in winning the slam, oh  and my poems of course 🙂

WNS: Who has been your toughest contender all year?
Pilgrim: I believe everyone brought their A-game in every slam, but NoLIFE stood out for me as the toughest contender, no lie there.

WNS: What effect has taking part in the slam had on you as a poet?
Pilgrim: It has allowed me to see how broad and diverse poetry is and through that I was able to grow in terms of my skill of writing as well as the concept in which I wrote about, I was more factious when I started writing and now I am able to write about social issues and so forth.

WNS: What would winning the slam mean for you?
Pilgrim: …it will be a big stepping stone in my poetry ‘life span’, it will mean I achieved the goal I set for myself this year and that people heard and understood my truth.

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#WNSFEST Interview: Mapule Mohulatsi

Mapule Mohulatsi was born and raised in Soweto and attended The National School of the Arts where she majored in Dramatic Arts. She is currently a student of History and African Literature at the University of the Witwatersrand, and can best be described as follows:

Barb Wire. Uhuru. Sex on Black Skin. BushChild. A FatFrog. I am not an Artist, I am a forbidden tantra forest, merely a Dance. I, warmer than the devils tit. Left. Pussy Powerist, diabolically sweetened, valiant lover of bombs and incence, Swahili resides in her hair, a cuckoo nest, Militant warrior the epitome of who’s who in the west, sodomy and incest less, bless!

Mapule_Poster

Here is what this vivacious wordslinger had to say to the WNS about  her upcoming appearance at the 3rd Annual Word N Sound International Youth Poetry + Live Music Festival | Open Mic League Finale taking place on the 30th November 2013:

WNS: What have been the pressures/­challenges of having to perform on he Word N Sound stage each month?
Mapule:
Getting there on time for the list.

WNS: What makes you think you are going to take this slam?
Mapule:
I don’t think I’m going to, I don’t have any reason to think so, I haven’t been what you’d call ‘consistent’. Plus I think NoLife deserves it.

WNS: Who has been your toughest contender all year?
Mapule: 
I’m not competitive at all. (Slamming is the hardest thing I’ve done to myself, having a contender would kill me. I can’t do that)

WNS: What effect has taking part in the slam had on you as a poet?
Mapule:
 I’ve been the most inspired by the amazing poetry that exists. I don’t need Youtube as much for inspiration.

WNS: What would winning the slam mean for you?
Mapule: 
Uhm, probably less slamming.

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PROFILE: IAN KAMAU (Canada)

My name is Ian Kamau; I am an artist. I believe my ability to create and communicate is intimately tied to my purpose in life although I am unsure of exactly how.

I am a writer, producer and a graphic/visual artist. I perform what I write so I also consider myself a performer, I make music and write poetry; spoken word. I do not think of myself as an entertainer.

Ian Kamau (A Long Walk 2 of 3)_ Prayers from Ian Kamau on Vimeo.

I was born and raised in Toronto to Trinidadian parents who immigrated to North America in 1970. My parents are documentary filmmakers, my mother a producer, my father a writer and director from a family of teachers. I grew up around ideas, information, education and art. I hope my entire life will be immersed in this kind of creativity.

Art is the creative expression of our humanity. The greatest artists are those who have the ability to create inspiring work while communicating ideas and powerful messages to everyday people.

Ian Kamau (A Long Walk 3 of 3)_ The Village from Ian Kamau on Vimeo.

Art and music instigate larger conversations. I believe music is the greatest communicator because most of us listen to it in one form or another. While some may never go to an art gallery or theatre production the majority of us listen to and appreciate a musical form of some kind.

Making music has taken me around the world, it has opened doors to experiences I never dreamed I would have and has put me in the position to have conversations with a diversity of interesting individuals, these conversations have helped to open my mind and my spirit.

Ian Kamau_ The Village (One Day Soon) from Ian Kamau on Vimeo.

I believe in community. My creative life extends to my work in community development, specifically with arts-based projects for young people. That side of my life has always run parallel to my artistic life and reminds me of the importance of expression, inspiration and opportunity.

My desire is to put my thoughts and experiences into the world so that I may enter into a larger conversation with people in different places. I am an artist who wants to continue to be creative and support others in being creative while finding my purpose.

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PROFILE: CLINTON SMITH

Clint Smith is a 23 year-old poet, educator, and activist from New Orleans, LA. He is a 2010 graduate of Davidson College where he founded FreeWord, Davidson’s first and only slam poetry team. In 2010, he led the team to a top ten finish at the College Unions Poetry Slam Invitational, the premier national competition for college students. Upon graduating from Davidson, Clint lived in Soweto, South Africa working to educate youth in the township on HIV/AIDS by engaging them in sport and spoken word.

He currently teaches high school English in greater Washington D.C.. He is the 2012 Graffiti DC Grand Slam Champion and is a member of the 2012 Beltway Poetry Team, representing DC at the National Poetry Slam. Additionally, Clint has served as a cultural ambassador to Swaziland on behalf of the U.S. State Department, conducting poetry workshops with youth throughout the country focused on HIV/AIDS prevention and self-empowerment.


 

He believes that slam poetry presents and important platform to discuss a variety of important issues in our society. “While spoken word certainly doesn’t always have to be socially or politically oriented,” he says “it does provide a unique opportunity to tell the stories of those who are not given a voice. It can also give insight into the human experience by contextualizing each of our lives relative to those around us. It’s a dynamic artform that challenges or perceptions and continuously allows us to think outside of ourselves. I’m grateful to be a part of something that has the potential to be a transformative in how people perceive the world around them.”

 

Aside from poetry, Clint loves his mom, soccer, scrabble, libraries, playing Xbox late at night with his roommates, documentaries, being chased by his little cousins, pretending he knows how to play the piano, and the feeling you have right after you eat way too many barbeque ribs.

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