So the story goes as follows :Erin Bosenberg a multi-disciplinary media and performance artist whom I had met when performing at Badilisha’s One Hundred Thousand Poets for Change (2011) , approached me to perform at what was then a very popular gig, called Grounding Sessions . Grounding Sessions was curated by Jamaican born poet D’bi Young as a space for community expression. The event took place at at Tagore’s in Observatory every Monday evening.
Erin hosted the show that evening, but herself and Desiree Bailey, another performer from Badilisha , took turns at maintaining the show after D’bi had departed Cape Town. That night, I was the feature poet . This meant my set was longer than usual and I could set the tone for the evening. It felt as if it was my stage , where I could steer the show as I saw fit. The audience members were receptive and seemed to engage well with the work. Unbeknownst to me , the audience were mostly poets themselves. Grounding Sessions was a safe space that gave voice to both experienced and novice poets who all wrote around a theme prompted at the prior show.
The theme that evening was – Nothing. After I had had finished, the open mic resumed and poets brought forth various perspectives on the theme.
Like a whirlwind, a young man guitar in hand had entered the room . He stepped to the mic and he said he’d like to share song to which the audience obliged to.The first lyrics of the song were: “I thought I won the lotto, when I fell for miss one of a kind”, okay entertaining enough, but what stuck was when he got to the chorus and belted out the following : “And all she said was elephant shoes, elephant shoes”. Yes, Jimmy Nevis had intercepted my stage. How did I know this? Because the theme for the next weekend at the Grounding Sessions was …ELEPHANT SHOES and I was completely overshadowed by Mr Nevis!
I never the performance much thought after, despite his voice being pleasant . The very next week however, the radio blasted : “Elle, elle, elle” . IT was on the radio, that very song! This guy was famous all of a sudden. I couldn’t believe it! Fast forward to the next time I saw him The next time I saw him after was at Living Room, a club in Bellville. He was booked to perform , but there was not a chance that I could get close to him to convey this story because he was surrounded by bodyguards!
I still could not believe that this singer guy,who had hijacked my stage, had turned out to be famous the very next week. It was beyond me. In retrospect it makes complete sense. Tagore’s is that the type of venue that allows for that kind of magic.
When going to Tagore’s you never know what may transpire, but you don’t fight the ambiance of the place either. You go with it. It has an air of mystery and sanctity about it. It is ultimately a performance space that houses talent. An intimate platform that allows for poetry and music. Many a renowned and unknown artist has touched stage with that venue. Hence the Jimmy Nevis overnight sensation phenomena.
So now that Observatory is where I reside, and poetry seems so far away, a revival of Grounding Sessions seems in order.
Each Tuesday will host a feature poet and an Open-mic where poets are given the opportunity to share writing related to chosen theme. The commencement date of the first insallment will be February 24th. The theme is The History of love, in keeping with the month of love (February) and Black History month. Winslow Schalkwyk will be the first feature poet. Do come,if not for any other reason besides that I have Elephant shoes to fill, and a dream to see through.