Category Archives: Roché Kester

Artist Profile: Kyle Louw

Kyle Louw

Kyle Louw

It’s very seldom that fresh young talent becomes an overnight sensation. I mean, even the Disney kids put in some work before they blew up in their adult years. It seems as though some people have the ability to become smashing hits within a short period of time.

I’ve been at this poetry thing for a while and I like staying on top of who’s new, what content is new, what new poets have to say and with all that said: cue Kyle Louw.

I was performing at Jam That Session last year, when Kyle Louw approached me after the performance and said he’d love to put me into contact with his friend running a poetry show in Observatory, because he thinks I’d be exactly suited for the women’s day show that was set to happen later that month. It’s Kyle’s doing that I am now friends with Kirsten Mackey and JP Voster of the Nomad Artiste Colony Cape Town. It was rather surprising though, that this boy, whom I’ve never ever heard of, never mind seen on stage had access or knowledge of a show that I did not have (indulge me here, this is my not so subtle way of saying I like being in the know). Nevertheless, I took him up on his offer and before long I was introduced to the suave, serious, emotional, insightful, talented, flirtatious poet this is Kyle Louw.

Kyle has only been at poetry for just over a year and has managed to perform at most of the more sought after events. This can only be attributed to his skill, commitment and work with regard to his poetry.

I asked Kyle some questions to shed light on him as poet and person. Watch out for this boy, he’ll be around for a while!

Catch Kyle performing on the 7th July , at the Nomad Artiste Colony Cape Town’s event The Swing Café at 19:30 at the Riverclub in Observatory.

1)Why poetry?

Ever had that feeling you know this is what you need to be doing with your life? It’s tough to explain but somehow I know that I can’t and refuse to do anything else with the time I have here.

2) When did you start writing poetry and what inspired your first poem?
I have been dabbling with poetry for as long as I can remember, I only started to see it in a professional light last year(2013) April. My catalyst moment was stumbling across Suli Breaks’s  ‘I Will Not Let An Exam Result Decide My Fate’ video. I watched that and literally wrote my first piece as soon as the video stopped playing.
3) Do you think there is a difference between writing and reciting poetry?
I don’t necessarily see an immediate difference however I do believe there comes a certain level of courage with performing that writing may not need. Having said that sometimes writing your fears down ‘In the open’ so to speak can be scary in itself.
4) Which poets inspire you?
Wow, I am finding poets that inspire me everyday to be honest.
Off the top of my head I would have to say:
Buddy Wakefield
Tonya Ingram
Rudy Fransico
Miles Hodges
Hary Baker
Luka Lesson and our very own Naledi DeighPetic Raba
5) What are the predominant themes in your poetry?
Emotions and perception, I love playing with perceptions! If I had to fit my poetry into a box I would describe it as conscious boy meets girl, I find myself using the female form as my inspiration. Although I may use the pronoun ‘her’ The message itself is for everybody
6) Is your poetry always personal?
I write every poem for myself first, so in that sense yes. I write to understand my views on certain topics and ideas. My work is inspired mainly by conversations with individuals or things I see that resonate with me. I get on stage for my own growth, if what I have to say people can relate to then that is a beautiful bonus.
7) What is your opinion of the Cape Town poetry scene?
IT’S A HUNGRY BEAST! In the year I have had the pleasure to experience it,  it has grown exponentially, with new poetry groups popping up all over the city. I feel this is a good year for the scene and I am excited to be a part of the shift.
8) Do you think poetry is only for certain people?
Definitely not, I have on many occasions heard ‘this is not for me’ before the show, and after the final piece is said those same people are junkies for spoken word. My poetry in particular focuses on an individual level so I feel that everybody is able to take something away from this art form.
9) How long do you rehearse before a performance
My process includes writing the piece out several times before it is where I like it, so usually by the time it is finished memorizing it isn’t an issue, then I go over it a couple of times out loud, but I must admit I enjoy molding it with the audience, as long as I know my work the journey of experiencing it for the first time together with people so to speak is one of my favourite things about what I do.
10) What is your intention with poetry?
To change people’s perspectives on everyday ‘society norms’. To help people realise like I have that just because this says its true doesn’t necessary mean it is. We are all individuals with our own truths and our own beliefs and I aim to hopefully allow people to follow what feels right for them.
Outside of my own work I have recently started a campaign called ‘Voices of Tomorrow’ Its a year dream wherein we will hunt in every high school for hidden talent aged between 13-18. Run six months of poetry workshops to make sure we don’t let a single drop of talent fall through the cracks, then 3 months of mentoring where we will find out exactly how these kids tick, what inspires them to get up in the morning and to find out their passion for poetry. Then in the final 3 months we will focus on performance mentoring where we help mould their talents for the stage and teach them the logistics of marketing themselves and getting their work out there. By the time the year is up the goal is to take all those talented closet writers, give them the voice they are searching for, and watch them blossom.
11) Are there other art forms that you wish to/have explored besides poetry?
oh my god I wish I could sing, but sadly I can’t so I speak instead, I do love fusing poetry with music and I know purist may be against that but one cannot argue that the music only strengthens the poets message. They are of the same family at the end of the day and in this art form there is no space for hate in my opinion.
12) What would be your dream fulfilled with regard to poetry.
Tour the world, grace the stages that have inspired me countless times, rub shoulders with secret mentors and collaborate with my favorites. Outside of myself my dream as I feel our unified dream as poets should be is to grow this art form as a breathing, living and respected entity of this age. So no one ever has to ask “What is spoken word?’
13) Please share some of your work:


June 16th

A few years ago, at the height  of my artistry and my failure I was presented with another means to grow, to expand. A good friend of mine had a connection to stage a play, I think in Worcester, the theme being June 16th.

At that time, I had failed at varsity and  was adamant to prove to my parents that I was still  worthy. Worthy of their love? Worthy of their respect? Perhaps both? And so emerged the journey of “Lest we forget”.

Lest we forget was a play created in remembrance of the struggle of June 16th 1976,now dubbed youth day in South Africa. It marks when youth conspired amoung themselves to stand up  against the presiding government, for their decision to administer education  in Afrikaans. Afrikaans then  being foreign, not innate to the majority  of South Africa’s means of communication and an oppressive language.

The youth centralised themselves to fight, on that day against this atrocity. Lives were lost, humans were wiped out with force because of their opposition to a language and furthermore a system.

“Lest we forget” therefore proved a difficult task to create. How could we relate 30 years later to the struggle of youth – younger, more vulnerable and less protected than us?

We had to tap into the hurt, the so-called empathetic imagination and put ourselves right there. It was tough. We had vigorous rehearsals where one would sit on a chair and the other would interrogate their motives in a dim-lit room devoid of help. We created a past, present  and future so scenarios of how freedom is experienced. This play would have brought me to tears, alas, it  was never staged.

The marches, the hurt and passion of the day never leaves me. I cannot create a better social milieu, you cannot, lest we forget.

I wrote a poem for the day. Read it, and dare not forget:

Lest we forget

this land is  blood soiled

scarlet hugged and pain bound

echoing memories of lives gone

in throbbing chests of women

who will never be grandmothers.

Lest we forget

Teas gas, no longer visible

olfactory organs pick up no scent

of blinded comrades penetrated by rubber bullets

running by bodies who have struggled and are now spent.

Lest we forget

mass funerals, communities in turmoil

hearts pain stricken

oblivious to recovery

after mother , father sister and brother

are buried for issued passes as lesser beings.

Lest we forget

songs of freedom,

marches to Union buildings,

boycotts of inferior schooling,

imprisonment for twenty-seven years,

noble rebellion of minority rules.

Lest we forget

the belief we are similar

mirror images

reflecting Gods,

souls of furnace ,connected in likeness-

no dilution will incur

perpetuating rivers of the hurt

that run rapidly

repetitively, cognitively and inwardly.

Lest we forget

we will regret current times

where censorship of truth is contracted by law

without our permission,

remaining reminiscent

of our blood soiled land

scarlet hugged bound by pain,

lest we forget.


Lekker smet

I’ve been known to return home rather late in the evenings.Perhaps this is due to the modern ailment coined FOMO(Fear of missing out)or perhaps it’s because I’m exceptionally social or perhaps because where I reside,in a suburb situated at the end of Cape Town,not too much goes on.

I like the action,the lights and the vibe of the city.It has always been an aspiration to live and work in the city centre,and though this may be hard for people in other provinces to fathom,Cape Town city remains a hub of activity where people flock to. More so the city is maintained and is aesthetically attractive,unlike the city centre of the other major city centres in South Africa.

One evening after watching a show,I left town and returned to the faraway suburb of Kraaifontein. Having exhausted all my cigarettes,the best option seemed to be to visit the local bar called Uncle Stan’s pizza pub-the only place open after hours that retains the R22.50 as opposed to R35 at filling stations.

What you have to understand is that this place is smet.You may not be familiar with this term smet,but it is a slang term for something grungy,filthy and even common.You’ll find the most interesting characters in smet places but you will also be ogled shamelessly if you are a female.It’s the type of place that you’re not going to “check in” on,on Facebook.More so I doubt if any selfies have proudly been posted on Instagram with has tags such as #Inniekraaibak#Unclestans#mannesonder tanne (trans.#InnieKraaifontein#unclestans#menwithoutteeth).

I suppose the appeal of a place like Uncle Stan’s is that it is close to home for its usual patrons.It becomes a matter of convenience if you’re really in the mood to drink. A local watering hole where you build a community of drinkers and kak praaters(trans.bullshitters) also has its appeal since people are by nature gregarious. This might not appeal to many,but in Stan’s there exists slot machines,which draws it’s own brand of hopefuls.

As I entered Stan’s,I immediately become self-conscious.All eyes are fixed on me and I receive slight nods,wry grins and blatant stares.I ask the barman for my brand and just as I pay and about to leave,a poster catches my eye.Could it be?Perhaps it’s true?I refer to the poster and ask the barman “Hey mister,is that for real?” and a patron to the left of me answers “it’s on the poster,it must be real”.He then proceeds to ask me if I thought that things like this are impossible here in Stan’s.He then went further to say that I should know that Stan’s bar is famous.

The poster relayed that on 15 May,Mel Jones would be performing comedy in Stan’s at 20:00.I couldn’t believe it.Was Stan’s famous after all?Had I been missing out on a cultural hub on my doorstep because of my preconceptions?This had to be remedied,so as I left I fixed the date and time in my head,because yes, I would be there to see Mel Jones for free comedy in my neighbourhood.

Granted,I’ve never seen Mel perform before,but she has become one of the comedians whose name is recognisable and respected.When attending Nomad Artiste Colony’s Spoken Word Showdown,the culture of comedy and comedians as an entity has lured my interest.It would seem that comedians run in packs.They attend an array of events to network,check out the competition and gain information as to where and how they can get stage time.I suppose they are much like any other artists,but there is definitely a group-like-camaraderie amoung them and it seems everyone knows everyone.I knew that watching Mel meant I got to see a established comedian in a rather unusual venue and naturally it had to be done.

The night of the show I begged and pleaded with my sister to come to Stan’s with me.Her immediate reaction was “why would I ever go to that place”, but with the promise of a few drinks I managed to convince her.As soon as we sat down we realised we were two of four females at the bar.We chatted and waited until we spotted Mel.It was then that I realised Stan’s bar was in fact not famous,but the reasons for Mel’s presence was an initiative by Grand slots,who organised entertainment at various bars where their slot machines were installed.

Kagiso D Mokgadi,a comedian from Pretoria, acted as MC and opened the gig for Mel.He had a hard time of it.The crowd was disrespectful,rowdy and somewhat aloof,as if they were used to having comedians of Kagiso’s reputation in Stan’s bar.The man has performed at the Baxter for goodness sakes,for money!Here however,in this cove in Kraaifontein,he was disregarded by folk who did not concede a cent.I felt for him.

Kagiso D Mokgadi

Kagiso D Mokgadi

 

When Mel stepped to the stage,it was a different story.She took control,moved chairs around,told people to sit and persisted that this was a show and she’d like to be heard.Mel is what I’d call a no-nonsense-lady.Assertive,fearless and confident.She handled that room of men with such tenacity that immediately they were hooked.Best of all-she was exceptionally funny.Her brand of comedy is rooted in her Mitchells Plain neighbourhood and contains anecdotes of childhood stories,hair,names,old boyfriends and even karaoke.

Kagiso D Mokgadi and Mel Jones

Kagiso D Mokgadi and Mel Jones

Her comedy was aimed at a “coloured” audience and a mixture of English and Afrikaans persisted through her set.She was funny without being insulting and without being pretentious.She was quintessentially comfortable in her skin and felt no hesitation to reprimand anyone who disrupted her set.

Mel Jones

Mel Jones

Despite her initial hesitation in going with me,my sister sang Mel’s praises and laughed her head off.She later admitted that she was so glad we went.

I think it was admirable the way Mel handled herself considering the crowd was initially unruly,but it’s also a very brave thing to perform in a venue that does not necessarily avail itself to artworks such as planned and organised comedic sets.

I suppose the lesson here is:
-not to be too proud to take the less glamorous jobs as an artist.
-to be comfortable in your art,you know you are talented,the crowd just has to be eased into realising that too.

-I’m hooked on comedy.

-And of course:Smet can also be lekker.


New kids on the block: Nomad Artiste Colony Cape Town

 

Spoken Word Showdown

Spoken Word Showdown

As far as poetry goes there are a few existing competitions that has gained a good following and reputability. Nationally, the DFL Lover + Another competition sees poets from each province competing for the title. The Word ‘n Sound Poetry and Live Music series runs throughout the year in  Johannesburg and has become a must-see-event with regard to the poetry scene. In Cape Town the InZync poetry competition presented by SLIPnet has drawn huge crowds and fantastic poets, not forgetting the Naked Slam hosted by Lingua Franca that in a short time has also become very popular.

Cue the new kids on the block: Nomad Artiste Colony Cape Town, an initiative by the very talented poet Kirsten Mackie and JP Voster, a DJ,and goes by the name of JP Silver. I had first met this dynamic duo when I was actually set to perform at their poetry show called Ms Kiki presents and since then they still manage to amaze me with their professionalism, respect for artists and the love of an array of art forms.

Ms Kiki is a platform for poets of various genres that serves as a means of self-expression and also allows the audience to experience various poets in their element. Ms Kiki has also gained a very good reputation having seen reputable poets gracing the stage.

Jp Voster and Kirsten Mackie

Jp Voster and Kirsten Mackie

Of late the Nomad Artiste Colony has launched added another leg to their repertoire called the Spoken Word Showdown, a competition that consists of heats that take place every Monday  at Players Restaurant & Bar at The River Club Observatory  at 19:00 pm. What however makes this poetry competition distinct is that it is dualistic. Spoken word in this sense  includes both poetry and comedy, which allows a platform for poets as well as comedians.

Last Monday , I attended the second quarter-final of the competition and was immensely impressed by the way these two art forms worked so well together. The showdown sees each  poet/comedian perform , thereafter the audience is asked to shout of a few words which the artists then have to use to compose something original on the spot. There after , the audience is then asked to vote by applauding whom they regard to be their favourite and voila …we have a winner in each craft.

The show was hosted by wordsmith Kyle Louw who did a stellar job and again proving that he was born for the stage. The poets that made it to the second  quarter-final included DejaVu Tafari, Sharnell Hill and Peter Gabriel McKinnon Wright. Dejavu could unfortunately not compete as she was in Bloemfontein working on the Reversing the Legacy exhibition with which she’s been touring to various provinces. The two remaining poets still managed to carry the show and provided great entrainment and insightful poetry.

Kyle Louw

Kyle Louw

 

When you first meet Sharnelle Hill,she may appear somewhat timid, but this petite lady reveals herself as a firecracker if enough time is spent. In some way her unassuming manner provides softness with regard to her poetry which focalizes a female narrative. Having seen Sharnelle perform a few times, I was quite taken aback by how her writing has grown, as well as how she now filled out the stage with her presence. Sharnelle agreed with my sentiment that she had improved since her maiden poetry performance “I feel as if that the competition has pushed me to be more creative and think more seriously of what I produce”, Hill said and also stated that she feels that her level of performance and writing is on the pinnacle of a personal breakthrough.

Sharnelle Hill

Sharnelle Hill

 

As with Sharnelle, Peter also seems coy at first until he hits the stage. This was my first time seeing him perform, and I was quite taken by his poetry. I did however feel that him reading his poetry, did deter from his performance, but he also concurred that he is fostering that side of his performance. Peter does however have an enduring quality about him and his writing ability is not to be questioned as he trumped everyone with his impromptu poem based on the words provided by the audience.

Sharnelle Hill and

Sharnelle Hill and Peter Gabriel McKinnon Wright

The comedians were very entertaining and I was so appreciative that this component of the competition existed. It opens one’s eyes that with in every art form there exists a community of artists committed to living out their dreams and pursuing their passions. In the quarter-final comedians Eugene Matthews, Westley Cockrell and Lee-Ann Anny Davis were the competitors.

Eugene Mathews is nothing short of fabulous to say the least. He has been performing comedy  for “3yearsand 4months” to be exact. You may recognize him from the CTV television show called TaxiVision, and also features on the radio show called The Taxi. He performs regularly at the Armchair Sundays in Obseveratory and has regularly hosted to The Premium Comedy for Angels event. Eugene has a natural flair and his conversational style of comedy makes one feel quite comfortable even though his jokes are on the racy side. Eugene’s set speaks to culture, but also the realities and nuances of being a gay man and this is rather refreshing considering how he tells his tale and is unapologetic about it. Eugene also said the following with regard to the competition “I’m impressed by how well the event has been organized and advertised”.

Eugene Matthews

Eugene Mathews

Westley Cockrell, a sound engineer originally from George incorporated his small town roots into his comedy. He is Afrikaans speaking and though he does his set in English, he pokes fun at stereotypes of Afrikaners. Wesley suggested that there be specific time allocations, especially for he comedians.

Westley Cockrell

IMG_0847

Lee-Ann Anny Davis

 

Lee-Anne Anny Davis had me in stitches throughout her set. She has a great stage presence and layers her set with topics about her education, motherhood and her heritage. She mentioned that one of the comedians who inspired her was Melanie Shevlane, who’s been in the comedy game for yonks. It was interesting that she mentioned this, as I could see similarities with regard to the content, but Davis does have her own style, distinct, concise and hilarious.

The winners of the evening, by vote of the audience were Shanelle Hill and Lee-Ann Anny Davis. Both well-deserved.

Lee-Anne Anny Davis, Kyle Louw and Sharnell Hill

Lee-Anne Anny Davis, Kyle Louw and Sharnell Hill

The crowd was also entertained by the guest performer Michael-Ashley Jones, who has the most spell bounding voice. I first meat Michael at a series of gigs called MUTE in the Northern Suburbs. He is refreshing and very talented.

Michael-Ashley Jones

Michael-Ashley Jones

The heats for the third quarter-final has already begun. To sign up as either a poet or comedian you can send your bio, a photo aswell as your contact number to nacct@mailbox.co.za.

 

 


Mandela: The sentiment lives on

freedomI am of the school of thought of the sentimental. I cry easily and feel deeply and I struggle to find words and cognize external stimuli when in shock.

Thursday night saw me standing in a two-hour line to go to a party I just “had” to be at and someone randomly mentioned; they are saying Mandela has died. I went on with my life, still waiting in line. How many times in the last few months have I not heard those same words, those same debates and even in July I was not brave enough to say how I felt, that I was of the sentiment that in 2013 someone, anyone should say “Free Nelson Mandela”.

Once in the club, an announcement came from the DJ. “Can I please ask everyone to raise peace signs to the sky, we’ve just received news that Nelson Mandela has died”. I stood there and watched how everyone raised their peace signs, but my arm remained stuck to my side”. The D J then played That’s what friends are for and life continued.

When I got home, I spent two hours over a toilet bowel, puking out who knows what feeling (this was not due to alcohol intake, I had picked up a bug from my little brother) and woke the next day feeling terrible. While driving all talk was about Mandela on the radio, his death his life, his struggle. In between feeling physically sick and overwhelmed, I had not shed a tear.

At work, it was all the buzz. One everyone’s lips was Mandela  and all I could do was throw-up and battle to feel human. Eventually I threw in the towel and asked to leave work. I came home and slept.

So yes my life went on, and now I am here, still woozy and silent. I can’t explain why I am too deeply saddened to verbalize what I feel. A month ago when asked in an interview who my icon was  I said “ The most obvious answer would be Nelson Mandela, but I think that Mandela is a representative of a sentiment that we aspire to, so I think it’s fair to say that the sentiment he represents is my icon”.

The face of freedom is what he has become to South Africans, but there are many faces of freedom in South Africa, who have died, are not mentioned or scarcely documented.  I’ve always felt that in this land, the struggle is not so much for freedom, but in actuality it is between what we choose to embrace as ideals. Are we the Nelson Mandela figure, the one aspiring for peace, the one with the sense of humour, a sense of interconnectedness, a wisdom that permeates to an understanding that we should not fight each other, but rather embrace .  Are we the opposite? The image of the system that is apartheid, filled with hatred, fear and greed. Judging rather than understanding , oppressing rather that uplifting one another?

What are we really as South Africans? Who are we? These are the questions I grapple with every day when I encounter personalities on either side of these spectrums. The death of Mandela does not mark the end of what he represents. Perhaps with his death, it may feel as it has, a sense of what he represents has left us, but that is not true, perhaps that is why I am in a limbo state of mourning. I feel that those ideals will live on if we choose it, matter of fact it was present before a face was ascribed to it.

My father says when Mandela was released from prison he was present and I was hoisted on his shoulders amoung the crowd at the Grand Parade in Cape Town. That’s the closest I got to meeting him/ seeing him and knowing him and that is actually okay with me. I know that his legacy and sentiments are present in me regardless, because it’s in me, it lies at the core of my soul and who I am. My hope is that South African’s don’t forget that freedom and equality  was bred because it was part of the collective conscience, that is was every soul populating our land wanted. That is what won, freedom won because we chose it, and may it continue to be that way. May equality soon follow.

RIP Nelson Mandela, long live South Africa.


Lingua Franca: Sold out

Lingua

Saturday passed,saw the first anniversary of the spoken word movement Lingua Franca, the brainchild of Delft artist’s Mawande Manez Sobethwa, Ncedisa Jargon Mpemnyama, Lwanda Sindaphi and Mbongeni Nomkonwana.

The term Lingua Franca can be defined as: a medium of communication between people’s of different languages. That said, I’m of the opinion that this spoken word movement has done just that, it has managed to create a community where poetry and music became the Lingua Franca of everyone involved.

The Lingua Franca shows usually take place at the Masambe theatre, a quaint annexure of the  Baxter theatre. When it just started out, Mbongeni Nomkomwana, 2012 regional winner and 2013 coordinator of the DFL Lover+Another competition, asked if I would come share a poem on the open mic, in retrospect, I’m so glad I went.

My first impression of the event was that the soul’s that inhibited that theatre were sincere. The audience was attentive, engaged and appreciative of every poet and artist who graced the stage.

Thereafter word spread, and the numbers grew up to the point that spectators were quite satisfied to sit on the floor just to be part of the magic that is Lingua Franca. In demand, the movement upped the ante and regulated the door by selling tickets which surprisingly still pulled a huge crowd.

The most recent format of the Lingua Franca shows provides a marriage of poets and musicians. The talented Lingua Franca band consists of Babalwa Makwethu and Bongeka Qhanga on vocals, Mcebisi Tshambula , Zama Qambi and Lwando Bam on percussion and the talented Lumanyano “Unity” Mzi on guitar and keyboard. The band feels out the poet and their piece and usually create original accompanying music on the spot during rehearsals.
liingu
To celebrate their first anniversary, a show had to be had in true Lingua Franca style.

The line up was amazing which featured Lingua Franca’s resident poets : Anele Kose, Koleka Putuma, Mfundo Ntobongwana, Lwanda and Mbongeni. Other poets included myself, Kgothatso Motshele, Lerato Mokobe, Kyle Louw, Ingonyama Yamagama , Khanyiso Mabhodla, Javier Perez , Thabiso Nkoana and Naledi Rabi.

Right before the show commenced a friend of mine, and a regular to the show, alerted me that the tickets were sold out. I panicked since I knew that she and her mother had come especially to see me. I tried to pull some strings, but I was told that rules were rules and that my only spectators would have to go without. Also in the foyer, ticket-less, was Michael Rolfe one of the coordinators of the longstanding Off the wall poetry sessions.

As luck and poetry would have it, my friend and Michael did manage to get into the show as the tall, gregarious, Loerie award-winning MC Manez Sobethwa pleaded with the audience to “act as in a Cape Town taxi and scoot up for your neighbour”.His plea worked. Also in the audience was coordinator of the InZync Poetry sessions , Adrian van Wyk. If two of the coordinators of the most sought after poetry platforms in Cape Town attend your show, you must be doing something right.

Overall the show was fantastic with the band and the poets receiving a standing ovation from the audience. My personal favourites of the evening  were the angelic Kgothatso Motshele who delivered a matter of fact poem about the grey area with regard to rape and sexualization of females within society. Koleka Putuma, who delivered an intimate portrayal of an individuals’ struggle with organised religion and the appreciation of a pious mother. Kyle Louw with his beautiful extended metaphor on drugs and love and Naledi Rabi, who has the type of voice that can make even a girl question her sexuality.

It was beautiful and it was indeed a celebration of poetry, art and life. It goes to show that the popularity of poetry in Cape Town has increased immensely and that people are flocking to hear, share and feel in these artistic truths.

A huge congratulations to Lingua France for their persistence, belief and love of this art form. What they have managed to a achieve is more than just a platform, they have built a community in art that manages to elevate the collective conscience of society and that is definitely noteworthy.

As a treat, here is the poem that I performed at the show.


Let the poet speak

Shhhhht! Quiet!
Listen,
and let the poet speak
lend your ears ,
just let the poet speak
and ease your fears
please!

Let the poet speak
and enlighten your mind
let the poet speak
and watch your soul rise
effortlessly
as it was always meant to do.

Armed with nothing but words
the poet navigates this world
with sounds and rhythm
stomping metaphors and similes
unearthing sacred verses
you never dreamed to exist.

Resist if you must
there in the crowd
in that dimmed room
your only wish is entertainment
but if you open yourself instead
an arrangement
of what you already know
prose now becoming poems
replanting seeds already sown
constructed for you
by the poet
to help your spirit grow.

Let the poet speak
and as each beat of your heart
mimics the content,
pulses the history,
merges with your energy,
envelopes your being,
praise the poet
for their work and their meaning
like the ancient soothsayers of yesteryear
where crowds gathered to decipher
uncode and denote
the wisdom imparted from their lips.

Let the poet speak
but not in vain,
as your mind wraps around their words
respect ,reflect and understand their pain
their hope, their dreams
their need to stand nakedly in front of you
reciting to you things
they just have to say
all the paths that came their way
hurts dealt with
that bleed and lay
internally
until they are staged
for you.

Le t the poet speak
let them know you agree or disagree
indicate that you’ve cognized their concept,
their rhyme,
their verse, their time
their art
their belief in a better world
their battle against injustice,
their sweat , their hustle
in solitary crafting
drafting and second guessing
each sentence
to share with you a poem
that’s just too pressing ,
if left inside it would fester
and the poet
would surely die.

Let the poet speak and see nations rise to their feet
an army clad in harmony
interconnectedness the mission
protesters upholding banners that read
“down with hatred and divison”.

Let the poet speak ,
remind you of what it was like to be in love
providing those soft nuances
delicate images,
blissful ideologies,
the belief in
second possibilities.

Hear the poet out
when you’re dealing with loss
that private place that only you, god and the poet knows.

Let the poet reassure you
I will be alright
that when your world plummets and falls
just hold yourself tight to make it right ,
let the poet write that wrong
and perhaps not presently
but as time suspends, your hurt will too
replaying continuously , repetitively
the poets words to you.

Let the poets words dance in your joy ,
lift your spirit
elevate your consciousness,
celebrate your present,
arch the corners of your mouth ,
recounting the preciousness of your life.

Just let the poet speak.
But dear poet
when they let you speak,
and tweak their minds,
pierce their souls,
be weary
that your words can destroy and build
ignite or spite
heal or deride
with every sound your recite.

If you’re a poet and they let you speak
honour the privilege
the platform the hour,
devour
each passing minute they let you speak
eating their time like your last meal,
intend to let them feel
the best way you can
for you are the poet
and though they may not know it
they were always waiting for you to speak.

In peace and poetry: Roché


I am Woman, hear me love.

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Hear me roar is the better known statement, thanks to the opening line of Helen Reddy’s song I am Woman (1971), but after this weekend I thought that love would be more apt.

Last year I decided to submit a short story to POWA’s women’s writing project and lo and behold, my story ,Girl Power was published in the 2012 anthology titled Breaking the Silence : Sisterhood. An array of emotions come to the fore upon knowing that you will be published. In my case, it can be explained as the following:

Utter joy and disbelief when you are first informed that your writing will be put in an actual book. This was followed by excitement and pure euphoria. Then the anticipation of waiting for the physical copy ensues. When you finally receive the book and your name is printed in black and white you are kind of shell-shocked and content. After the contentment wanes, you are faced with the “Well what now?”, the excitement passes and you come to terms with the fact that  you are still you, the only actual difference is that you get to add a book to your collection that now contains your name and your writing.

Being published is a lifelong dream for many people. I worked in a bookshop for many years and at the time it seemed so unattainable, but I knew I wanted it. Writing does however take time, and although you should make time to write (everyday they say), I have only submitted a few places and have had the luck (and perhaps the skill) to have been published thrice in my 25 short years on this planet. I have thus endured the crazy process of a complete high to a feeling of wanting thrice, and I will admit that I’ll endure it as many times as necessary.

The beauty of the POWA anthology was that after published the action of submitting my story obtained its own life and story. A year later, having forgotten I was published and all that, just minding my own business the editor of the POWA anthology asked if I was willing to mentor the potential writers in Cape Town for the 2013 anthology. How could I possibly refuse? In a myriad of submissions from Cape Town, they had asked me. Little old me. They actually thought I could teach people how to write. I had to say yes, there would be no adventure if I declined.

About two months ago I was flown to Johannesburg, put up in a guest house and attended a workshop on how to mentor other writers. The other participants in the workshop were all women who had been previously published in POWA’s anthologies and being there was an affirmation that you were indeed some type of writer or that you did something special enough to have utter strangers dig into their pockets to finance what you deemed only to dream. Mind blowing stuff right?

For my readership who may not know about POWA (People Opposing Women Abuse), they are essentially a South African feminist women rights organisation that provides an array of necessary services to survivors of abuse and are also focused on empowerment of women in various sectors of society. It goes without saying that there is a certain pessimism attached to what the acronym POWA stands for ( as well as the existence of services like the Rape Crisis Centre)  considering that women shouldn’t ever be  abused, raped or violated, but the reality of our society dictates that it is necessary and the fact stands that organizations like POWA have the potential to  save people’s lives.

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The Women’s Writing Project is one of the branches in which POWA allows everyday women’s voices to be heard.
Now that I’ve become a somewhat “chosen” voice, it was my responsibility to source females for the writing workshop in Cape Town. I spammed almost every group on Facebook I thought may be interested and also forwarded the information to all of the artist networks I could think of. Then the replies came in. Women answered the call via email and all responded with a resounding yes, “I’ll be there”, “Count me in” and my excitement grew. I knew perhaps three of the women personally but the rest were all brought in by the net I had cast out into the universe, and what a group it was.

In total seventeen women were present at the workshop over the course of this weekend. Women of various ages, cultures and upbringing and what transpired when we gathered together can only be described as magic. I’ve always said this, but now I am a firm believer when I say that there is something sacred about a group of women gathering together.

We deconstructed gender, had talks about everything from hair, to clothes and our relation to men. We celebrated the power of being female; we cried, laughed and shared poetry and stories. We were open, accepting and receptive. Within 48 hours we had developed a bond through our love for writing and the fact that we were women. It was a beautiful, a natural sisterhood, a kinship and an air of reverence and respect lay in all the spaces and avenues we uncovered. We helped each other improve our writing. We ignited the possibility of the dream; we gave each other strength and confidence where it may have lacked before. You could hear us love. We were women and you could hear us love.

After the workshop I realised that I had committed a terrible offence in my last blog post titled Helen Moffett and the rest who say : Fuck Women’s day. With all that I  claim to be, I had judged the actions of another woman so harshly and had become part of the masses that dictate how women should be or how they should act or what they should wear. This is a public apology to the woman I so blatantly judged in my previous post and to all those to who I may have offended by thinking , having had tunnel vision on what it should entail by being  women. We are all different, have different ambitions, beliefs and aspirations and I have to acknowledge that my own prejudices and my then warped sense of morality intervened in my last blog post.

The women I encountered in the workshop managed to remove my blinkers in such a short period of time.

Submissions to the anthology are open to all women across South Africa. To submit electronically you can visit the following website: http://womenswriting.org.za/pages/home.php or alternatively email me at roche.kester@gmail.com to receive the submission form. The deadline has been extended to 30 September.

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The website provides guidelines for submissions for poetry, short stories and personal essays. E-books of previous anthologies are also available on the website. I encourage every aspiring women writer to submit their writing. POWA’s Women’s Writing Project is an open arena for all women’s voices. And who knows you may just be published and your published work may take on a life that adds an additional, meaningful and beautiful story as the one I have to tell by taking that first step of self belief. So, dear women let them hear you love.