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MYESHA JENKINS has the soul for poetry…

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Hi Mandi: Just found out that we have more days for the poetry show on SAfm. Would you be willing to do it?” Myesha Jenkins

When I read this message in my Facebook inbox, I had to take a moment just to breathe a little. Feminist, immigrant and activist, Myesha is no stranger to the poetry community, the contribution that she has made goes far beyond that of just being a poet. We chat to her about the role she continues to play in our industry, and we find out how she managed to get poetry on TALK RADIO.

“I just happened to be at the right place at the right time and i could think on my feet to come up with the right idea” Jenkins

1. Safm is one of South Africa’s leading talk radio stations, how did you manage to convince them that poetry on the airwaves is a good investment?

I’m sure you’ll think I’m lying because the story is so magical it just doesn’t seem like it could possibly be true. The preface is that it was the Year of the Dragon, known for things getting whipped around by that powerful tail, turning things upside down, profoundly changing reality.

I had been out of the scene for a couple of years and had lost many contacts. It was 2011 and I was coming to grips with losing my vision in one eye but at the same not wanting to hide away. I had produced a new poetry collection, had launched it at Poetry Africa and needed to break back into the Joburg scene. I had a friend who was in production at SAfm, so I called Geoffrey Matenji to see if we could meet. My goal for the meeting was to get some suggestions of shows I could approach to do interviews to push my book.

When I got there, he had arranged for the Community Liaison to meet with us, which I thought a little strange. So we did a little chit chat about poetry, my collection, the work I was doing with Jozi House of Poetry and then she said, “So how can SAfm help your organisation?”

I went blank. I hadn’t come there with Jozi House of Poetry in mind so I had to think …. Real quickly. Maybe they’d like to sponsor our monthly sessions. Maybe they’d like to fund a book of our regulars. Maybe they’d like to record some of our sessions. I was literally pulling ideas from the air, ideas that could build Jozi House of Poetry.

“Yes”, she said, “lets explore that idea a bit.” So I described our sessions, the diversity, the mixture of page and stage poets, the goal of promoting poetry to a community whose reference was Daffodils and Clouds. She liked the idea of recording poetry sessions. “Lets get Julia from Drama to come down.”

As we waited for Julia-Ann Malone, Geoffrey and I did a full on pitch for my personal legitimacy and longevity in the poetry scene. They had to know I wasn’t a fly-by-night character and that Jozi House of Poetry was a credible community based institution. I gave her my book but then after all that hoorah, i humiliated myself by not even having a pen to sign it with. (I’d cleaned my purse that morning and forgotten to put the pens and notebook back in.)

Luckily Julia-Ann arrived at that point. We talked further about recording Jozi House of Poetry sessions, refining details. She had experience, recording poets in the 80s and knew that the producer of those shows was still around. They had some space in the audio drama schedule during August, so it made sense to try and create something for that time to focus on women.

I jotted down some of these ideas (yes, I had to borrow a piece of paper too) and we exchanged email addresses. I promised to write up the notes from the meeting and Julia promised to check if the producer was available. That was it.

I just happened to be at the right place at the right time and i could think on my feet to come up with the right idea. SAfm wasn’t committed to poetry, they had no idea of its popularity and of the scope of contemporary writing but they liked how I presented myself and they were looking for something new.

They were clear, there was no money for this and I willingly accepted that because I was thrilled at the national exposure we could get for poetry.

Of course I went home and wrote up the notes, then shared them with Phillippa Yaa DeVillliers and we refined the notes into a proper proposal that was submitted and approved. Phillippa came up with the name.

When the MOU came it was clear that SAfm was not really engaged with the concept as we were limited from using the material in anyway and SAfm retained all rights. But still, we knew the value of such a show, even if they didn’t.
That’s how Poetry in the Air came into being.

What inspired Poetry in the air?

You can see there wasn’t much thought that went into creating the show. Nevertheless, Jozi House of Poetry had been operating for a number of years and by 2011 was in a second incarnation. Its explicit purpose was to provide a platform for poetry, particularly to create a safe space for women writers who didn’t always get much attention in the male dominated world of spoken word. We also wanted to encourage writing, reading and developing the skills of written poetry. We also placed a value on authenticity and poetry that spoke of personal truths and emotion.

The inspiration for Poetry in the Air then, was to expose the nation to that ethos, to promote the work of primarily black women writers. The added kick to the show would be that women would be reading their own work and responding to questions about it, so listeners could hear the writers’ intention, intonation and her personal voice.

Myesh Jenkins-The Atrium, Women's Gaol, Constitution Hill.

Myesh Jenkins-The Atrium, Women’s Gaol, Constitution Hill.

3. How did poets adjust to the dynamics of performing poetry for radio as opposed to being on the stage?

Radio is very different from stage performances and some people battled. Poems had to be shortish (the ear gets tired easily), they had to have different rhythms and themes. One could over emote but the work had to convey emotion. Imagine, two people sitting across a small table from each other with a huge microphone dangling between them, only able to speak when the red light came on. No props. Some found that terribly intimidating. As well, some were uncomfortable with the editing process and that someone was going to maybe cut out some of their words or change the order of the interview.

In addition, poets were asked to suggest music that would be used in the show, music that reflected them and the material. After editing, the music was added to the introduction and it served as a link throughout show. Many people hadn’t thought of their work from this perspective and had a hard time.

We were lucky to have a producer, Posy Buckland, who is extremely experienced and skilled. She was the person Julia had mentioned, who’d worked on this kind of poetry show in the 89s but from years of putting together radio dramas, she was a skilled editor and had a sensitivity or rather sensibility to use just the right music to enhance the words

4. What can we expect from the line up for poetry in the air?

This is the third year of the show and we wanted to add a new element. The previous two years used local Johannesburg poets but this time, we also included three poets from Cape Town. It was a big thing organisationally for SAfm to link from studio to studio but it all went well without any problems.

In the second year we added males to the line-up and that was continued again.
The theme was pretty vague though everyone had at least one poem addressing the strength and experience of women.

Specific poets for 2014 include: Khadijah Heegar, Ouaz Roodt, Vangi Gantsho, Nova Masango, Sarah Godsell, Conelius Jones, Natalia Molebatsi, Khosi Xaba, Afurakan, Mandi Vundla, Toni Stuart, Phillippa Yaa DeVilliers, Dejavu Tafari, Mutle Mothibe and Myesha Jenkins

5. You have continued to play an influential role in the poetry community, what keeps you inspired?

I like the idea of building poetry so I’m interested in seeing our community expand in numbers, in platforms, in types … all of it. I think it’s important to express the reality of our lives. So my inspiration is in building that community, supporting writers, encouraging more people to express themselves through written poetry and spoken word.

6. You are also the co-founder of Jozi House of Poetry, tell us more about this platform.

Jozi House of Poetry is a monthly session that provides a safe space for women poets and encourages authentic, personal, reflective kinds of writing. As a woman-friendly space, kids are also welcome, i.e. you don’t have to take the baby out. You don’t have to memorise and people can read their work. And it’s not about competition and looking good. We usually have a theme and discussion which allows both poets and non-poets, just lovers of the word, to share their opinions and ideas and their poems as they fit into the discussion.

We are now in the third incarnation of Jozi House of Poetry. It was first started by Feela Sistah in 2003 and ran till 2006. It was housed in the old Couch and Coffee in Newtown. We Then started again in 2011 and operated for two years at the POP Art Theatre in the Maboneng Precinct. In January of 2014 we moved to the African Freedom Station in Westdene where we currently have a much more open and relaxed atmosphere.

7. What has been the greatest highlight of your poetry career?

Personally it was receiving the 2013 Mbogodo Award in the category of Poetry. The Mbogodo award honours women making meaningful contributions to the arts. Winning that was very special.I’ve also enjoyed performing at Poetry Africa. The first time was in 2004 as part of the Feela Sistah Spoken Word Collective with Napo Masheane, Lebo Mashile and Ntsiki Mazwai. The second time was in 2011 when I launched my second book, Dreams of Flight. I worked with jazz musician, Bradley Maponya.

8. Name 3 writers you can’t live without?

Toni Morrison, Lucille Clifton, and Warsan Shire and locally it’s Gabeba Baderoon, Khosi Xaba and Phillippa Yaa Devilliers.

9.If you could improve anything in the poetry communities, what would it be?

More cross fertilization and sharing of knowledge. More sharing of technical skills. Less competitiveness. Expanding to reach all the provinces. More intergenerational platforms. Somehow seeing ourselves as branches of the same tree … the PO E TREE.

We thank you Myesha for all that you do. Catch poetry in the air at the end of the Ashraf Gardia show, from 11h45 to 12 noon, Safm  (104 –107 fm) Monday through to Thursday.  (The first week starts on Tuesday, 12 August and we go into September, ending Thursday, 4 September.

Tuesday, 12 August Khadijah Heeger

Wednesday, 13 August Quaz

Thursday, 14 August Vangi Gantsho

Monday, 18 August Nova

Tuesday, 19 August Sarah Godsell

Wednesday, 20 August Conelius Jones

Thursday, 21 August Natalia Molebatsi

Monday, 25 August Khosi Xaba

Tuesday, 26 August  Afurakan

Wednesday, 27 August Mandi Vundla

Thursday, 28 August Toni Stuart

Monday, 1 September Phillippa Yaa DeVilliers

Tuesday, 2 September Dejavu Tafari

Wednesday 3, September Mutle Mothibe

Thursday, 4 September Myesha Jenkins

 

 

How to Write Slam Poetry

Mahogany L. Browne, a Poet in New York City from the Nuyorican Poets Café, talks about how to write a slam poem.

‘Poetry speaks to the human condition’ – Afurakan

The Spoken Freedom Festival is first and foremost an exciting showcase. It provides both audiences and artists an opportunity to witness and partake of engaging artwork through the media of words, music and visuals. It`s a chance to collectively look at how far South Africa has come over the past two decades, and to position Spoken Word as a medium to both chronicle and shape the South African journey in the years to come.

Each show costs R50, tickets are available through Computicket or directly from the Market Theatre Box Office.

Get the full Spoken Freedom Festival programme here.

A massive thank you to our partners, The Market Theatre Foundation and the South African National Lottery for making this amazing project possible.

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Poetry League: May’s Top 5

Congratulations to NoLIFE, Xongani, Thando, Zewande and Bafentse for making it to last month’s Top 5 on the Word N Sound Open Mic Poetry League.

Zewande is also a finalist for the first ever Slam For Your Life National Slam. Find out how you can vote for one poet to represent Gauteng. The other finalists are Modise Sekgothe and Kagiso Tshepe.


“There is a sense of richness in storytelling” – Pilgrim Serei

WNS_S4EP5_PILGRIMLucas Pilgrim Serei made his mark on the Word N Sound slam stage last year when he secured his spot in the Top 5 throughout the year. We caught up with him ahead of his showcase at this Saturday’s show.

You have performed at the Word N Sound before but under the Slam part of the show, how do you feel about showcasing this time around?
Pressure…but one that propels me to give out a good performance. I am beaming with euphoria.

Has being part of the Slam made you change your style of writing and performance?
Yes, I think when it comes to my performance, I am trying to incorporate more props into my work and I am taking it one step at a time. And also the content that I now write about is different. I think I’ve said it before, less fiction and more reality.

What inspires your writing and what methods do you use to get into the ‘zone’ for you to write a poem?
What inspires me is where I come from, I believe there is a sense of richness in storytelling and this has had a huge impact in my life. Lol *the zone* for me is a point where observation, experience and creativity finally meet up and I find myself being forced to write or I’ll go crazy. There’s no method really, I just find myself thinking too much, more when something is disturbing me.

How do you feel about collaborations? Have you done any, if so; was it with another poet or musician etc and how was it different from performing alone?
I have in the past done my fair share of poetry collaborations, some worked and some didn’t. I’m sort of selfish when it comes to poetry and collaborations are difficult for me but I am constantly looking for ways to engage with other poets because I believe I can learn something new. Performing with someone means that you have to make room for them, I guess the room was always too small with those that didn’t work.

In most of your performances you include music, why do you use back tracks, what does this add your poems and performance?
Music is powerful because it does always move me and even the audience as well. Imagine watching a horror movie (or any movie for that matter) without music? I believe poetry has evolved to a point where it’s not just about reciting but “how” you tell your story. So for my poetry, it adds a misplaced feeling I sometimes lose when I perform and I find it somewhere mid-air. But backtracks are a gift as much as they can be a curse.

What advice would you give to the new people taking part in the WNS Slam?
Simple, you are not competing with other poets, you are competing with yourself, my poetry has learned the hard way. Secondly, always write for quality than quantity. It’s not about how many poems you have, but how many good poems you have.

Is there a strategy you think works for one to be part of the WNS Festival as you have been part of it before?
Nope I don’t think there’s a strategy, just come packing heat and you’ll make it into the festival.

What response do you expect from the audience from your performance on Saturday, 7th June 2014?
Wow… Uhm, cheer maybe? Well to be honest I am just going to lay my stories to them and their spirits will lead. All I can say is, it will be a good showcase.

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“Art is every child’s birthright” – Mak Manaka

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We caught up with Mak Manaka ahead of his showcase on the Word N Sound stage this Saturday.

Why poetry? (Why not Hip-hop or prose, music or theatre)
Well, to me it’s all literature, it’s all art. I cannot write nor play music but I have a good ear for sound when the notes are clashing, and theatre and prose, come out here and there, and hip-hop is poetry’s child, I used to rap on stage at Li Club back in the days, so, like I say, it’s all art.

As one of the legendary veterans of poetry, do you still wake up in the morning and say “YES, POETRY”! Is poetry still relevant in the contemporary landscape?
Hold on, what? Veteran? Why ningigugisa kodwa? Next minute I have to get veteran’s grant. NO. Still way too young to be a veteran. And yes, I still do, wake up in the morning and compose a poem. Poetry is the articulation of the human condition, of condition period. So, given the issues that we wake up to lately, poetry is very relevant, today, tomorrow and forever. Wherever there are people, art will always be relevant, because art is an integral part of a people’s culture.

What keeps your fire alight?
You keep me alight. Knowing that I am not the only one encouraging people to follow their desires makes me feel closer to the goal of, art for social transformation.

How do you feel about the shape that poetry (especially slam poetry) is taking now?
To be honest, I never really did separate or categorize the delivery of poetry, though I can tell you this, gone are the days of poets trying sound like so and so. One can tell, that some of these young guns read, and work at harnessing their own voice, and that makes me very proud to be a poet today.

What makes it important for you to perform your poetry and not only leave it in books?
You know, sometimes you just want to see the band perform as opposed to hearing their music on the stereo. I have two books published, and other publications in different languages around the world, I am a firm believer in taking your time to publish, and not do what I did, because I was very young when I published my first book, but then again, it becomes chronological and people can see the growth. And when it comes to the stage, I love people.

Comparing sessions at ‘Cool Runnings’ and ‘Horror Cafe’ to those held in the city now (Likwid Tongue and Word N Sound) a lot has changed and been gained along the way, do you feel that anything of importance has been lost?
Time lost cannot be gained though rather perfected. Some of the people I started with are the ones that are still rewriting the scene, and some have boxed themselves, and others threw in the towel. ARTLIFE is no easy life, so for me it’s the people that we’ve lost along the way, and seeing new faces more and more. Growing bigger and bigger.

If you were asked to choose only 1 line to leave as your legacy from your poetry, what would it be?
“My time and your time, is not before or after but NOW!”

What is your dream for poetry?
What is my dream for art period; it is that of encouraging our children to follow their desires and passions, because art is every child’s birthright. Sure, it’s not all easy, but easy does not come easy in the lives of grown-ups. I have another dream but that one we shall all see and experience in time.

What was the greatest lesson poetry ever taught you?
Sharing is caring…
What is your mantra?
It is still the same from the first time we met, ART LOVE SUPREME and PMA (Positive Mental Attitude). Bless!

Our aspiration is to become internationally recognized artists – BlaqSeed

Blaq2sdayThe Rise of the Underdogs stage was introduced to young up and coming bands who are bubbling under and doing amazing things. This Saturday, Word N Sound features one such band. Production Manager, Xongani Maluleka, caught up with BlaqSeed ahead of their performance.

How was Blaqseed formed and what changes has the band gone through?
Blaqseed was formed, the year 2010, after Gabriel, the guitarist, had just bought a new guitar which he couldn’t stop playing. At this time him and Karabo, the emcee, were already friends and had both discovered their love for music. They linked up to make a song, however they felt it needed a vocalist. That’s when they went on a search for vocalists. At first they had a lady, who had to quit the band in 2011 because she formed part of another band. In 2012 they had another lady, who also had to leave for career related purposes. Eventually they met a songstress by the name of Lesego, since then they have been graced with her presence.

We’ve seen a lot of bands break up. What are you doing to stay together?
Our method to stay together as a band is to instill lot of commitment, dedication and hard work coupled with plenty of hangouts lol, amongst ourselves.

The Vaal is continuously invading inner city Joburg stages. Is there some form of a movement with bands from there?
There’s a movement called Uvuko which caters for a variety of performance art and that’s where most artists from Vaal came from. That’s where we learnt some of the stuff we know. So from that movement we went our different ways but still remain friends with other groups and acts.

Take us through your writing process and what inspires your music?
There isn’t a fixed way in which we write our songs, Gabriel could have chords that he wants us to work on or Lesego could have a melody or Karabo could write something he wants us to work on. Thus there isn’t a specific writing process, but rather we bring in our individual ideas, themes, influences to work on. We have an incredible synergy that allows us to be open minded and flexible in working with each other in regards to our songs.

Our inspiration comes from love and everything else that comes with living.

In your band, you have a vocalist, an emcee and a guitarist, have you ever considered including more members to play other musical instruments, if yes which ones, if no, why not?
Yes, bass guitar and cajon drum.

Which performance has been the most memorable, why?
Our most memorable performance was at the Paco Rababe Band competition which was held at the University of Johannesburg Kingsway Campus. This was a stage that we had always wanted to get on. We loved the outdoor set up and the crowed was very interactive.

Which local artist would you like to collaborate with and why?
We would like to work with are Tumi from the Volume, Proverb and Thandiswa Mazwai, we love the kind of music they do.

As an upcoming band, what would you say is the one thing you wish you were taught before getting into the game?
We wish we were taught how to brand ourselves and how to get our music to the right people, also it would have been great to know how to get sponsors.

Where do you see Blaqseed in the next 5 years?
We’d like to see our selves go beyond boarders into Africa and overseas. Spreading the message of Love to every ear we can find. Our aspiration is to become internationally recognized artists who represent Africa on broader stages, the same way Marriam Makeba, Bra Hugh, Tumi, The Soil and Thandiswa Mazwai have represented Africa on international stages.

Blaqseed believes in giving back to the community, please explain to us why is that important to you and also please share with us your charitable work?
Because naturally as human beings we are helpful and are good, but throughout the years the good in us fades so those who can help, must help. That’s why we do it through our music.

We’ve been part of a fund-raising initiative for Thembelihle Primary School in KwaZulu-Natal at the Bat Centre.

What are you expecting from your performance at the Word N Sound Rise of the Underdogs Show?
We hope people hear and understand the message within the songs and hopefully inspire those listening to be better people in society.

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EVENT: Free weekly open mic shows

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The Poetry Corner brings back a much needed non-competitive open mic platform where budding poets and spoken word enthusiasts can share and appreciate works and voices. As the cornerstone of performance development, open mic platforms offer emerging artists the opportunity to perform in intimate settings, building their confidence and receiving worthwhile feedback.

Catch our free weekly open mic shows every Wednesday night at the Light On 7th in Melville. The mic is open to all so feel free to bring your work and share.

Luka Lesson drops his latest album…and it’s free

Luka - EXIT cover art - gumroadThis album ‘EXIT’ is emotional, a journey into the unknown and an ode to vulnerability.
I didn’t let myself over-think the tracks, everything came from a gut reaction… – Luka Lesson

In March we hosted Australian poet, Luka Lesson as part of the Tongue Fu show we produced with Chris Redmond from the UK. So we were quite excited to hear that he has release his latest album…and it’s free.

Mpho Khosi caught up with Luka to find out more about the book and how his experience of the South African poetry was.

You have decided to give out your Album, and as an artist that is financially straining, what do u wish to accomplish with doing this?
I guess I want to make sure everyone who I have met touring over the last few years can access it and have it in their possession. And that nothing, not even money, blocks that from happening. Especially since a lot of the people I have worked with cannot afford to be spending lots of money on music. It is also my focus to reach out and connect with a bigger fan base worldwide and let this album be the catalyst for the next level of my career.

Are there any major differences between the latest album and the first one?
There’s a huge difference between these albums. The last album ‘Please Resist Me’ was half hip-hop tracks, half spoken word and a very politically focused piece. This album ‘EXIT’ is emotional, a journey into the unknown and an ode to vulnerability. I didn’t let myself over-think the tracks, everything came from a gut reaction… and most pieces were written within a few hours of hearing the music, no more. So it is immediate and unmasked.

EXIT got it’s title from me pushing my boundaries with this one, escaping my safety zone physically on tour and as an artist. It isn’t a rap album, or a hip-hop album, or electronic or spoken word. I just went into the studio and approached everything as a poet. I didn’t know what would come out until it was done.

Do you ever think that you will evolve and do a different genre?
Yes, I am beginning to branch out and just make music I like, I think EXIT has elements of folk, electronic and world music as well as some hip-hop samples and beats. We’ll see where it goes from here.

How have you balanced, dealing with the business and admin end of being self-publish and still finding time to write?
This is my biggest challenge, being my own manager, touring and finding time to be the artist. Luckily I have people who believe in me and my work and help me to make this dream a reality. Pranishka Nayagar, my tour manager and fellow poet when I was in South Africa, has been a huge help. I owe her a lot and it has been great to see her shine as an artist.

During you time in South Africa, you hosted a workshop with students in Westonaria, do you plan on doing more outreach programmes that entail you being a teacher or even a mentor to up and coming writers?
I love this side of my work, I have a lot of workshops and school visits coming up in the next six months. And I have poets sending me work to look over pretty constantly. To be honest the young people in South Africa, and in particular Westonaria, really helped me stay inspired and connected to the artform. They were absolutely crazy talented and welcoming. I also gave my camera and new album to the young people at Soweto Kliptown Youth, they made a video clip for my next release from the album, so keep an eye out for that.

You have performed on different stages in different places, which would you say is a stage and place that stands out and why?
I’ve played in people’s homes to festivals, hip-hop events and poetry slams. It is hard to say but I can’t go past the vibe and crowds at The Nuyorican Poet’s Cafe in NYC. Mahogany Brown who is the host there is the best slam master I’ve seen and on a Friday night, it’s absolutely incredible.

Having visited SA, what would you say still needs to be done in the country to better promote poetry?
To be honest, more of the same. I think you have a good fan base, a passion for story telling and appreciation of words that runs through the entire nation. South African TV is willing to have poets on and there are people who know how to organise good events. Keep pushing and make sure everything is high quality. A slam is only as good as it’s poets.

Also, the only thing I could say is please, do not imitate America. There are a million excellent imitators out there. Poetry is an artform that is about individuality. Be you, as much as possible.

Where to from here for you?
Now I will do an Australian tour and begin giving my album to 20 Million people worldwide. And start planning the next journey to SA. I hope it is sooner rather than later.

DOWNLOAD THE ALBUM NOW!
Australian Poetry Slam Champion and conscious hip-hop artist Luka Lesson has a dream: to get Exit, his ambitious second album, into the hands of 20 MILLION people worldwide without charge.

How? With the help of his fan base. Over the past few months Lesson amassed a street team of over 200 fans worldwide who are poised to distribute his music in their cities on 6 continents.

But he also needs your help to share his album with as many people as possible!!

1) Download the Full Album via the below link.

2) Like his Fan Page on Facebook.

3) Share is album with everyone you know.

– Facebook

– Twitter

– IG

– Work Colleagues

– Download onto USB and share with people directly

– Write a review on your blog

– Contact your local Radio station, newspaper, TV organisations

– Host a listening Party

– Take photos by an exit sign and send it to me! 🙂


Share, share, share!! 20 million people – we got this!!

‘I’m drawn to the untold stories of the downtrodden & forgotten people’ – Makhafula Vilakazi

Word N Sound’s Head of Production, Xongani Maluleka, got to know Makhafula Vilakazi a little before in this interview before his performance at the second installment of Word N Sound Presents… this Thursday at Sophiatown, Melville.

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1. I understand that Makhafula Vilakazi is just your stage name. Please tell us what made you choose this as the moniker of your public persona?
There is nothing in the poem per se. It was just a name that people elokhsini started calling me by, and I adopted it as a stage name I guess.

2. In one of the many reviews of your critically acclaimed album “I’m Not Going Back To The Township”, it is noted that the box of “Poetry” is limiting for your style of delivery. What kind of artists do you consider yourself to be?
I am writer.  I sometimes write poems, sometimes I write prose and sometimes the distinction between the two is muddled.

3. Did you produce your album ‘I’m Not Going Back To The Township’ independently, and did this impact the ease or difficulty of making collaborations happen?
Yes, I produced it independently. I wanted the album to have a bit of variety in the form of music and I approached a number of people. Because I was doing an independent project with no real commercial prospects, I was rejected by quite a few people. Samthing Soweto and Impande Core were prepared to do the collaboration for art’s sake I suppose.

4. Many artists say that if it were possible to just be artists without worrying about the administrative side of things, they would opt for that. Do you feel the same?
Yes, I tend to agree with that. Ideally artists should just focus on art and have someone to do the admin. Unfortunately, the current industry model dictates that artists have to be signed with record labels for this purpose. The contracts they end up signing are exploitative and the artists end up getting fraction of what we pay for their art.

5. You’ve published an anthology “Sections of Six” under the Botsotso Publishers banner. How has the book been doing in terms reception by the audience and sales? Do you feel that it is viable to monetize performance poetry through books at present?
I was one of six poets who were published on the anthology. Honestly, I do not know how the book is doing. With regards to your second question, I do believe there is potential for both. Some poetry is better packaged in books and some in audio. I have also seen some amazing audio-visual work from poets at Word N Sound and I think there is a lot of opportunity there as well.

6. What drives you to create art?
I am drawn to the untold stories of the downtrodden and forgotten people ekasi. I am also inspired by the everyday.

7. What would you say has been the major highlight of your career thus far?
I would say preforming on the same stage with Botsotso Jesters in 2005 was the highlight.

8. After winning the B-Connected competition hosted in Soweto by Music Mayday, you went on to perform at The Music Mayday Festival in Tanzania. What valuable insights did you learn from this that you would like to pass on to other artists that are looking to expand into the continent?
I am not sure if that qualifies me to give advice but the biggest lesson I took from it was around language and authenticity. In Tanzania I performed my poetry in Zulu and Tsotsitaal some in English. Interestingly the people related more to the feeling that went with the vernacular poems more than the English one.

9. Oh, and one more thing; where can we get your album and your book?
I gather that the book is available at Xara Bookshop. If you want a copy of the CD you can email me on ramashia1@gmail.com.

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