Tag Archives: poet profile

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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#WNSFEST Interview: THABISO “AFURAKAN” MOHARE

Afurakan_Poster

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

WNS: What is your biggest writing quirk/superstition?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Last but not least, I like running shit!

WNS: What happened to your album?

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

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

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

Coffeee … anyone?

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

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

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

AFURAKAN:

Killer Punchline

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

 Cypher with Lucifer? ….

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

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#WNSFEST Interview: ANDREW MANYIKA

Andrew_Poster

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

WNS: How important is your image as a performer?

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

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

WNS: Why should one vote for the EFF?

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

WNS: Slam vs set performances. Your take?

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

WNS: What will the history books say about you?

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

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

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

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

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#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!

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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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