Tag Archives: slam for your life

#WNSAwards: “Even I was blown away by that performance” – Mandi Vundla

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This year we crowned South Africa’s first National Slam Champion at the Slam For Your Life Finale held at the National Arts Festival in Grahamstown. The event was made up of an epic battle between 4 poets with showcases from songstress Khethi and seasoned performance poets Mandi Poefficient Vundla, Mutle Mothibe and Conelius Jones.

Mandi stole the show with a killer set that had, UK poet, Lemn Sissay in awe of her work and even more interested in our local poetry scene.

She has now been nominated for a Best Showcase Award for this performance.

Tell us about this performance? Was there anything special for you? Did you enjoy it?
That performance was unplanned and I startled myself completely. I performed poems that weren’t new to me, but the response was a crescendo of standing ovations throughout my set. I was blown away.

What has been your highlight as a poet this year?
Performing at Arts Alive 2014 and in Grahamstown at the National Arts Fest.
Doing a Khaya FM interview on Nicky B’s show with Lebo Mashile and Gratitude fisher.
Featuring in an article in the Citizen Newspaper.

Which poet have you really enjoyed hearing/reading/watching this year?
I’ve enjoyed the little I’ve encountered from Nayeer Waheed . She reminds me a little of Warsan Shire. She makes vulnerability sound so sexy.

I’m excited about Xabiso Vili, his enthusiasm reminds me of a trait I possessed when I couldn’t define the feeling of being hungry for words and the stage.

I have my eye on the reigning queen, Thando. I’d like to watch her craft unfold and I hope she exploits the Queendom.

Who would you love to share a stage with and why?
Andrea Gibson, it’s no secret… Andrea to me is both the message and the messenger.
“Some people are artist. Some themselves are art”-via Itsfahad.

Are you working on any interesting projects?
Oh yes. Watch the space!

 

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Slam For Your Life Highlights

The Word N Sound Live Literature Company in collaboration with the British Council Connect ZA presented the first annual Slam For Your Life National Slam Poetry Competition, with the finals being held on the last day of the National Arts Festival in Grahamstown.

The winner, Koleka Putuma, has a bright year ahead in performance and recording opportunities.

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SFYL: The history of Slam Poetry

In 1984, construction worker and poet Marc Kelly Smith started a poetry reading series at a Chicago jazz club, the Get Me High Lounge, looking for a way to breathe life into the open mike poetry format. The series’ emphasis on performance laid the groundwork for the poetry which will be exhibited in slam.

Smith approached Dave Jemilo in 1986, the owner of the Green Mill (a Chicago jazz club and former haunt of Al Capone), with a plan to host a weekly poetry competition on the club’s slow Sunday nights.

Jemilo welcomed him, and on July 25, the Uptown Poetry Slam was born. Smith draws on baseball and bridge terminology for the name, and instituted the basic features of the competition, including judges chosen from the audience and cash prizes for the winners. The Green Mill evolved into a mecca for performance poets, and the Uptown Poetry Slam still continues nearly 15 years after its inception.

The first National Poetry Slam was held in 1990, and has become an annual event in which teams from cities across the United States compete at events in a host city. Slams have spread all over the world, with slam scenes in Hawaii, Ireland, Nepal, Canada, Germany, Sweden, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Austria, Israel, Ukraine, Russia, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Portugal, United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, just to name a few.

Definition of Slam Poetry: A competitive poetry performance in which selected audience members score performers, and winners are determined by total points. Simply put, poetry slam is the competitive art of performance poetry.

In a typical competition, all poets perform one poem in the first round. Based on the scores they receive, the top-scoring poets go on to the second round, and from that pool, a smaller number of the highest-scoring poets in the second round go on to the third and final round.

While the specifics vary from slam to slam, certified slams adhere to this basic structure, insuring that poets must seek to make immediate connections with the audience in order to continue on. Cash prizes or other prizes are offered to the winner as further impetus for performing well. In most cities, the slam series culminates with a final slam at the end of the season to determine which poets will represent the city at the National Poetry Slam.

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SFYL: “I am curious about how the audience will react” – Zewande Bhengu

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Zewande Bhengu will be representing the Gauteng province at the first Slam For Your Life National Poetry Slam after he received more votes than any other poet from the four participating provinces.

It’s official! Your province has chosen you to represent them at the first ever Slam For Your Life National Poetry Slam at the National Arts Festival in Grahamstown. Now, how does that feel?
For the most part, I am quite excited. I also feel quite inspired by the pressure because I will be carrying myself, Word N Sound, the people who supported me and Gauteng on my shoulders when I step on that stage.

What was your strategy to get the many votes that you did?
Well, after making it to the Top 3 following the Secret Slam, I performed at a number of places (mainly student accommodation and work places) to promote both the slam and raise awareness around the voting process. So by the time voting started, all I had to do was put up a poster at the venues I’d performed to remind them of the Slam and show them how to vote. In addition to all this I sent the link to their social media pages/ profiles. Of course, I also took advantage of relationships with family members and their co-workers.

What are you most looking forward to and what are you not looking forward to at all?
I am mostly looking forward to the audience as I anticipate it will be so different from what I am used to in performing poetry; I am curious about how they will react. I am also looking forward to the workshops because I think I have some room to grow. The spirit of the Festival generally is also something to look forward to, and of course who could forget the weather (The cold is my other half). As for what I’m not looking forward to, to be honest, nothing comes to mind.

Given the chance to speak to sponsors like the British Council, who make such projects possible, what would you say to them, as an artist?
Have more faith in young artists. Sponsors seem so ready to fund and assist people who are already successful and young artists almost always get the short end of the stick. More than that, I think a grand thank you is in order, for making THIS possible. I hope their support can continue into the coming years. Thank you.

Word N Sound is looking to expand their national footprint. Do you have any ideas around how poets and poetry movements across the country can work together better?
I think keeping in communication before, during and after the National Slam would be greatly beneficial. The relationships could be further strengthened by having inter-provincial showcases.

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SFYL: “This will leave a permanent mark on my poetry journey” – Siyabonga Ngcai

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Slam For Your Life finalist, Siyabonga Ngcai, says being a part of South Africa’s first ever national Poetry Slam is a life-changing experience for him.

It’s official! Your province has chosen you to represent them at the first ever Slam For Your Life National Poetry Slam at the National Arts Festival in Grahamstown. Now, how does that feel?
I feel honoured and quite euphoric. This means a lot and will leave a permanent mark on my poetry journey. I appreciate all the support from the people who voted for me, and I give much respect to them.

What was your strategy to get all the many votes that you did?
I just campaigned on Facebook, but again my people kept on sharing the #WordNSound link with their friends on social networks.

What are you most looking forward to and what are you not looking forward to at all?
I am looking forward to interacting, share ideas, experiences and thoughts with the poets from other provinces. I’d really hate to see anything divisive happen, as I feel we are all poets.

Given the chance to speak to sponsors like the British Council who make such projects possible, what would you say to them, as an artist?
I would give much appreciation to them, as poetry is one of the more marginalized art forms in South Africa. This is a big initiative in terms of South African poetry and literature, and is especially beneficial to young, upcoming poets and writers.

Word N Sound is looking to expand our national footprint. Do you have any ideas around how poets and poetry movements across the country can work together better?
Slam For Your Life is a big start, but I feel it should have included all the nine provinces of South Africa not just four.

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