Tag Archives: Modise Sekgothe

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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“At times, only the poem exists, not Modise, not the audience” – Modise Sekgothe


Poetry lovers have come to expect nothing short of extraordinary when Modise Sekgothe steps to the stage. His showcase at the inaugural annual Spoken Freedom Festival at the Market Theatre did not disappoint.

Tell us about this performance? Was there anything special for you? Did you enjoy it?
There was definitely something special for me, through and through. At times you perform and you’re giving it your all but it doesn’t always amount to that. Sometimes the microphone isn’t positioned properly and that fucks with some of my focus, there are very little things, sometimes the sound is too low or too high and that affects me.

Such distractions take away from how deeply I can be immersed in the energy of the poem, this means forgetting myself and forgetting everyone there with me, it means forgetting that this is a performance and embodying and morphing into the poem itself, at that time only the poem exists, not Modise, not the audience, not the microphone, not the instrumental or the bad speakers, just the energy, enveloping every part of me from the inside out, out of every one of my pores into every one of your pores as the audience.

It’s when I strip completely and I let every part of me to light and it’s clear to the observer and they enter and we journey, we forget and by the time we remember, we’re no longer the same, perhaps just a little bit, but we’re transformed forever by the experience.

This was my experience, I can’t attest to what the audience felt of course but…it’s come to me that at that point, there is no audience, there’s just the poem, and we all feel it in the same way when it’s allowed to live completely.

What has been your highlight as a poet this year?
The afore mentioned performance.

Which poet have you really enjoyed hearing/reading/watching this year? Who should we be looking out for?
Zewande Bhengu. He’s a monster! His skill as a performer is generations away from where I am, I wanna get there. I am very inspired by what he does when he’s on stage.

Who would you love to share a stage with and why?
Koleka Putuma. I think she’s amazing.

Are you working on any interesting projects?
Yes, I am working on a project called “Metropolar” with Jotam Schoeman, who’s an insanely amazing Pretorian-based sketch-artist, visual artist and musician. “Metropolar” is a musical, spoken word, audiovisual production based on the Johannesburg CBD, all its horrors and beauties as observed and experienced by him and myself. It was born from an exhibition that he had at the Rubix Cube gallery in Maboneng, also portraying the harsh and interesting reality of life in the CBD.

It’s a cool exploration of animation, video, sketch art, music and spoken word, I flex my singing skills in it…hehehe, he created a stop-motion video from his sketches creating an animated stop-motion representation of the poetry and music and theme.

We’ve performed at the Rubix-cube gallery as part of Writers on Main, twice at the Atterbury Film Festival in Pretoria and will be producing a DVD to sell to the buying masses early next year. It’s going to be great!

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Spoken Freedom Festival Line Up Announced

In a rapidly changing socio-economic landscape, art takes the role of noting where we’ve been and, plots the path to where we’re going. Enter: The Spoken Freedom Festival. This Annual Festival is an exciting showcase of the best Spoken Word voices in South Africa, and takes place from the 3rd of July at the Market Theatre.

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.

This first edition of what will become an annual festival was born out of the shared visions of both the Word N Sound Live Literature Company, which seeks to provide an accessible platform for poets and poetry lovers to engage issues and enjoy art; and the Market Theatre, which provides a space for high quality theatrical productions to be staged and enjoyed.

“We are excited about partnering with the Market Theatre to host this ground-breaking festival. We look forward to seeing Spoken Word take a more prominent role in recording our collective journey as South Africans .” says Qhakaza Mthembu, Festival Director.

The Spoken Freedom Festival will feature screenings of pioneering poetry videos, an open mic slam and of course, performances by some of the leading lights among the spoken word voices in South Africa.

On Thursday 3 July, and Friday doors open at 19:30 with the Thursday shows featuring Conelius Jones, Makhafula Vilakazi & Napo Masheane; and the Friday show having performances by Vuyelwa Maluleke, Natalia Molebatsi and Multe Mothibe.

The weekend shows begin earlier with the Saturday show starting at 14:30 and featuring Andrew Manyika, Richard Quaz Roodt and Vangi Gantsho. The Final show will start at 15:00 and will see Tereska Muishond, Masai Dabula, Mandi Poeffecient Vundla and Modise Sekgothe taking to the stage.

Shows will be interspersed with an Open Mic Slam, Video screenings, and the four-
day programme will be hosted by the crown prince of Johannesburg Spoken Word- Afurakan Mohare.

The Spoken Freedom Festival will run from 3 – 6 July 2014 at the Barney Simon Theatre, Market Theatre Complex, Newtown. All shows cost R50 and the tickets will be available at the theatre’s Box Office.

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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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