Tag Archives: Poetry

Elephant Shoes to Ground You.

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Winslow Schalkwyk the first feature poet at the relaunch of Grounding Sessions.

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!

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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.

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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:


Helen Moffett and the rest who say: Fuck Women’s Day

Jam That Session :Roché Kester

Jam That Session :Roché Kester

There have only been two instances in my life where I have had stage fright, or completely could not recall the words to a poem. The first instance occurred when I entered a poetry competition when at University. The prize was monetary, but also offered an opportunity to record some of your poetry which at that time was a very exciting prospect.

I auditioned and got through to the next round. Then there was the performance in the cafeteria, in front of students eating lunch and playing dominoes, granted not the most conducive environment to do poetry. In addition, I was ill prepared, but instead of sensibly taking my page on stage , I chose to humiliate myself by not acknowledging my shortcoming and choking on the lines of my very magnificent poem.

The last time something like that happened to me was, well, Sunday. I got the call from Mbongeni Nomkonwana one evening. He is one of the founding members of Lingua Franca Spoken Word movement. He informed me that Jam That Session we interested in hosting a women’s day performance and since I was such a huge fan of the platform I agreed.

Legitimately I only have two poems centering on things female and thought I could write something inspirational/awe inspiring, but with time constraints it was not possible. Additionally I had mixed feelings about women’s day. Helen Moffett posted the following blog post, the day prior to Women’s Day , and every word of it stemmed true. Most of the female poets/musicians and writers I befriended on Facebook reposted her blog. She was right though. What was there to celebrate when in South Africa it has become part of the countries rhetoric that women are assaulted, abused, raped and sexualized on a daily basis and the seriousness of it all is lost on everybody?

I could not write. But would I deny myself the celebration of being a woman, I couldn’t. From my perspective women are royalty and should be treated that way. In Elizabeth Gilbert’s book titled Committed, she mentions a time when men stood each time a women entered the room, heaven knows why that social norm is now somehow non-existent. Women are so complex and simple at times, and mostly they are beautiful.

There are so many aspects of women that are just breathtaking and even though it is hard being a women in South Africa, since you always so aware that something terrible may happen to you ( and some really terrible things have happened to me), I do love being a woman. I love chatting, women do this, I love doing my hair, and I love getting dressed up and looking fabulous on a night out on the town with my girlfriends. I love that women nurture, raise nations and teach manners. I love that mothers, sisters, daughters and wives of every colour and creed were brave enough to march to the Union building in 1956 taking a stand for human rights. I’m even a fan of Eve! Good on her for giving Adam the apple ensuring that human beings have to be clothed and that men would have to work a little harder. I will also make no secret of it that I am of the opinion that female protagonists are always more interesting in literature, films and life. Women are phenomenal.

What better poem to recite than Maya Angelou’s Phenomenal Woman? So that was my choice alongside the other poems I had. I was die-hard nervous, as if it was my first performance and perhaps it was because it was a huge task take on, I mean, its Maya Angelou for goodness sakes! Perhaps I was ill-rehearsed, perhaps it was all that, but as the wonderful Lingua Franca band played and I swayed to the music as I started reciting, the words just left me. If you’ve ever met me, you’d know that my poetry and basically my life is visible on my face. I cannot feign comfortably, but somehow I managed to push through, repeating lines and well resigning myself to the fact that I had blundered Phenomenal Woman in front of a huge crowd. Somehow I made it through, and luckily I had the band to save me.

The other two poems went off much better and I was comforted by the fact that the crowd was supportive and of course that I had fantastic friends who helped me to nurse my wounds. The best advice I can give to any performer that this happens too, is just to breathe. I forgot to do that and I could not center myself. Despite what I deemed a disaster, the audience would have been oblivious had I not said “Oh shit” slap bam in the middle of the poem. Keep composure, start again and if all else fails crack a joke about it, the audience always appreciates the fact that you are after all just a human being.

The show proved fantastic, some great poets, fantastic bands and it was indeed a celebration of consciousness, of different perspectives of women and of talent. Dejavu Tafari was set to perform at the gig too, and I would never miss the opportunity to see this ball of wisdom on stage, so I stayed while waiting patiently for her to recite her wisdom. Then something happened that through major zap signs at Women’s Day and used the most vulgar language as an attack on it.

A female rapper/singer, I don’t know her name (I’m not in the business of shaming people either, but this shouldbetold), pranced on stage wearing next to nothing. I get it, stage persona and all that, but what offended me was the fact that stereotypes were being perpetuated in front of my eyes. Miss rapper was on stage bouncing around in her tiny outfit in the most distasteful fashion. Additionally she had a sidekick who came onto stage and started twerking. I’ve heard the term twerk, but honest to God, I was just to lazy to Google this latest dance/internet craze even though the term sparked interest as the two male journalists from FHM got canned when they used the term in their racist/ sexist remarks on Facebook. When I however saw I live, while little miss back up dancer grinded on the floor of the stage for no good reason I just sat there in shock.

I was too sober for all of it. The singer was actually good and the production of her music was really good, but what she brought on stage just offended me. I have a poem titled Premium Poes, about the sanctity of women’s bodies and choices and the need for respect for those things, but those two ladies on stage negated everything I had delivered earlier in the day by sexualizing females in the way they had. At an event under the banner Women in Art, it just put a damper on everything.

I’m not even a prude. I will admit that when I go dancing with my girlfriends a tangible amount of bumping and grinding happens. I am not the virgin Mary either, and sexual guilt has been nullified in my book, but what I witnessed on stage yesterday was too much. I shouldn’t judge women, but some of those dancers in the accompanying sexist rap videos just irk me to the core. It’s hard to draw the line on what should be deemed acceptable, because one might argue that women are in control of their own bodies and what they choose to do with it. But what happened yesterday happened at the wrong place and at the wrong time.

I’m in agreement with Helen though. Fuck Women’s Day if we are unable to learn how to make things better.


Something is not right in the Republic of South Africa.

Reversing the legacy exibition

Reversing the Legacy Exhibition 2013

This is obvious. I’m sure if all South African’s were given free range to complain, there would be no end to the array of what exactly is wrong with our country. Seldom concrete solutions are implemented to remedy our issues. What the Reversing the Legacy exhibition at the Cape Town International Convention Centre (CTICC) tries to illuminate that although progress takes time, it is possible .
Upon arrival at the exhibition, you are issued with a pass, or a dompas as it was referred to during Apartheid. Then you are met with a security guard, who scrutinizes you as if you are a terrorist and after a substantial silence asks you what your name is and where you reside.

Thereafter you are greeted by a man, who looks like he could have run the ABW and who coincidently had the old South African flag looming proudly above his head. Accompanying Mr ABW were his too sidekicks, one dressed in uniform and the other in a suit. The male in uniform, asked for my pass and then sized me up just as suspiciously as the initial security guard. He then asked the same questions: “What is your name”, “Where do you live” and I answered him earnestly. When he asked “Why are you here” and I replied innocently with a “To see the exhibition”, I knew I had crossed some line when he asked “What is an exhibition”. Immediately I had to change my story and said I was visiting a friend (which was in fact true), he seemed quite satisfied with this answer and eventually I encountered Mr AWB.

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The same questions followed, my name , place of residence, what I did for a living. I wondered if it would help if I said that I worked for an Afrikaans Publishing company, instead of just a publishing company, to perhaps win some favour with this guy, in retrospect , I’m glad I didn’t. He then asked if I was planning to visit the shebeen. Given the seriousness of the situation, I replied with a cheeky “maybe”. Yes, this was to be reflection of Apartheid, and yes I was supposed to be made to feel that I was doing something wrong by existing, and yes, these actors were REALLY good, but I am a free woman. This is 2013 and I would not dehumanize myself by complying with his every whim and intention of making me feel sub-human. Plus, I really like beer so chances are if there was a shebeen, I would definitely visit it.

All the dramatics aside, after being warned that I would be incarcerated for six months if I was found without my pass, I engaged with the exhibition. There were illuminate fixtures all around the room relating historical information, The first one specifically being about the 1913 Native land act, which was cause for the exhibition as this year herald the centenary since the law was instituted.

To be honest, I had no idea that laws as harsh as these were into place as far back as 1913, so for my fellow ignorant readers ,the 1913 Natives land act ensured that natives, or what we would refer to as people of colour, were only allowed a 7% ownership of designated land in South Africa, and furthermore that they were not allowed to regulate livestock and it also regulated who could live on “white farms” and who could stay on white farms, thereby lessening any “natives” ability to be fully empowered themselves and to be self-sufficient.

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The Natives Land Act , 1913

This happened as far back as 1913? It almost shocked the native out of me! I then snapped a shot with my camera with Mr AWB and his sidekicks and was told that they were watching me. The man in uniform uttered that I looked like a trouble maker.

Turning the corner is what really tore this native’s heart to pieces. There we pillars, almost ceiling high, all displaying the laws that were instated after 1913: The Group Areas Act, The Population registration Act, The Separate Amenities Act. You’d wonder why this moved me to tears. But seeing these laws suspended against that concrete was too much to bear. To me, those laws fixed on those concrete pillars, represented the permanency of its effects on our country.  Imbedded, irreversible and done, now elevated, almost boastfully.

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After I composed myself, I encountered a group of marching protesters holding up signs objecting these unjust laws. The marched in unison, singing songs of freedom, and I was almost trampled as they marched in full force as I approached with my camera.

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Then there was the shebeen ( unfortunately there was no beer), and  people were playing cards , dominoes , empty bottle’s positioned on the table, the occupants all dressed in  attire from the fifties, sixties and seventies.

What caught my attention was a white woman sitting on her stoep and behind her the sign read:

“A resident in Triomf, the white working class suburb, built on the ruins of Sophia Town” .

Positioned directly across her were two black women, who appeared to be impoverished and desolate. At point the two parties argued to and from their respective “areas”.

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Further along the exhibition a casper is seen and various posters heralding historical events in South Africa. There were also television screens which streamed videos of marches, protests, burning townships and Apartheid leaders spewing their well constructed rhetoric of injustice.

Jethro Louw

Jethro Louw

As you turn the corner you approach the poetry corner. I had the pleasure of catching the end of Jethro Louw’s set and I finally got to see the friend I told the security about, Ms Dejavu Tafari. It took me some time to find the section designated for the posts/storytellers to perform and eventually when I was directed to it, Dejavu informed me that she had already performed about three times to be exact. I opted for a picture instead and then she hopped onto stage to get a picture behind the mic and the onlookers were now intrigued an edged her on. She performed a poem I had requested and I was thrilled.

Dejavu Tafari

Dejavu Tafari

Dejavu is a ball of fire, wit and wisdom. She has the type of stage presence that makes it impossible to fix your eyes anywhere else. She is the real deal and if you ever see that she’ll be participating in a show, do yourself a favour and go. You won’t be disappointed.

Being as crazy as she is, she announced to the audience, which was very small, that I had written a poem the previous evening and I was going to grace the stage. I had no choice I had to get up there. After that we spoke a bit about poetry the workings of it in Cape Town. We both were in agreement that poetry in Cape Town seemed rather fragile at this point in time.

A few weeks prior to the exhibition, I saw the call for twenty poets who were to perform for twenty minutes, each day of the exhibition. I considered responding to the call, but I was not in a “stage” space at the time. I was exceptionally happy that poets were invited to the event, but let’s get it right people. Dejavu let me know she had performed at least thrice throughout the day, even though she was only scheduled for twenty-minutes. The whole affair seemed to be rather disorganised.

Additionally a jazz band played through the duration of the exhibition beyond the partition where the poetry was staged. Don’t get me wrong, I love jazz and it was a good idea to place the musician at the space designated for the shebeen, to add to the ambience of that setting, but what about the poets who had to compete with that distraction throughout the day? This injustice was quite fitting with the rest of the exhibition. During our conversation we did manage to psyche ourselves up and came to the conclusion that if things were to change, well as Gandhi put it, we had to be that change.

After parting from Dejavu, a woman asked if I wanted to sign the pledge. I read this pledge carefully before I put my name on it. It read as follows:

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Quite a hefty promise to make, but I do believe in what it said and was glad to sign it. My hope would be that whomever else signed the pledge would understand the responsibly of what it meant.

Overall the exhibition was a rather emotional experience and I was taxed when I left. The aim of the exhibition was to show how since Apartheid, steps have been taken to combat the wrongs of the past. On most of the pillars relaying the horrendous legislation of the past, a sort of disclaimer was posted about how steps had been taken by the current administration to reverse the effects of these laws, which I respect. Progress takes time but the hard truth is, is that in terms of land in this country, it will never be equal. Too much damage was done. The trauma of this land lies in its geography. Perhaps the percentage of black owned land will increase, perhaps more people will receive housing, but the townships and the Capeflats will always exist. People of colour will always be living there, that won’t change.

Was the aim of the exhibition met? I don’t know, but I’m glad that it is on display. It provides a minute view of what it was like and perhaps it will help people realise what kind of trauma this land experienced. Perhaps it will spark patience for the healing process, or perhaps the visitors to the exhibition will realise that there will always be a struggle to combat our past and perhaps they will join that struggle?

The exhibition has been extended to June 29th. It is free and I is a must see, for many reasons.

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Jam That Session 07 April- Review

Andy Mkosi &Obie Mavuso

Andy Mkosi &Obie Mavuso

Last month DJ Ruth Pearl Molteno played at Jam that session. A few mutual friends and I decided to check her out. When we got there however, the venue had reached its capacity we and couldn’t get in. This sucked.I love seeing Ruth play. I watched one of Ruth’s very first performances at a gig I had a hand in hosting called, Soul School, where  Gary Arsenic played too.

Roché Kester, Gary Arscenic, Ruth Pearl Molteno

Roché Kester, Gary Arscenic, Ruth Pearl Molteno

Being shunned from the gig,  left me with a weird feeling. Like there was an exclusivity to it, and it kind of made me wonder  “what’s all the fuss about and why the hell can’t I get in?”. Now however,  I can totally attest why there should be a fuss about Jam that Session.

While doing Love Psalms at the Baxter I met an array of artists. Mfundo Ntobongwana was one of them. While talking to him backstage found, I found  out that he was involved in the production of Jam that Session. I then said (‘cause I’m forward like that) “put me on the list to perform” ( I might have threatened him too, I can’t recall, it’s such a blur) .   As the universe works, if you ask,  it is given, so I was confirmed to performed at Jam that Session on the 7TH of April

The sound check was scheduled for 11:00 am. It took me a while to find the venue, I had only been to Ragazzi when it was in Long street, but now the venue  has moved to 7 Loop street. It was great though, walking through the city, I felt very poetry Cape Town. I had decided to channel poet/ performer Natasha Tafari that day.  Natasha ran this gig in Cape Town called Words worth saying, which was really a great platform for artists .I was immediately  intrigued by her. Not only was her poetry brilliant, but this was a woman with guts. She was soooo hip hop and managed to be a boss in high heels and a long skirt. I won’t ever forget how cool she looked, so when thinking about what to wear, my ensemble was immediately a throwback to Natasha.

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Bukiwe Zinganto and The Unity Band

The sound check never really happened, but I was there and this gave me time to mingle. I met the owners of the brand Jam that Session, Andy Mkosi and Obie Mavuso. On their production team is Mfundo Ntobongwana , Mawetu Matyila, Sam Lehoko and Ntsika Bradaki.

To start the Jam, The Unity band , consisting of Lumanyano Mzi, Brandon Hendrix  and Gideon Gidz accompanied Nyanga singer Bukiwe Zinganto. They really got the crowd going. Additionally the band invited Mfundo on stage and he recited a poem  ,that I’m totally in love with, called “Dear Future Wife”. Mfundo seduces with his words , and in the most gentlemanly manner too.  I’m sure most of those ladies in the audience were riling to be his future wife with poetry like that.

Up next was Nique-Floe Sithole. Nique also performed with me at Love Psalms. He has the ability to paint the most beautiful images with his words. Nique recited two poems and he was absolutely amazing.

Nique-Floe Sithole

Nique-Floe Sithole

The audience was then blessed by the wonderful Lebogang Nova Masango. Lebogang hails from Jozi and literally just pulled through to do one poem. This woman is powerful. The title of her poem A love Supreme : A lesson to poetry women and Jazz men” which was quite apt considering it was the International Jazz Festival in Cape Town that weekend as well. Lebogang had the audience sipping on her words as if it was a good glass of wine. The purrs and murmurs that resounded from the audience spoke to the depth and insight she conveyed.Lebogang was also part of the renowned Word N Sound Poetry and Live Music Festival in Jozi (2011).

Lebogang Nova Masango

Lebogang Nova Masango

Kneo  Mokgopa then stepped to the stage. I find Kneo very interesting. He has the calmest demur before show time, I’m the total opposite-completely hyper. As soon as he steps on the stage though, he completely transforms. He becomes this ball of energy that gets you mesmerized. He performed the extended version of his poem “I dare you to love me”. Kneo will be representing South Africa as part of the Vocal Revolutions team that will that will be touring to Chicago in August.

Kneo Mokgopa

Kneo Mokgopa

Roché Kester

Roché Kester

I then performed two pieces and that  stage immediately felt like home. I was apprehensive about performing at Jam that session, given the array of acts and considering I couldn’t get in last month made me think it was a party vibe, not   conducive to poetry, but my fears were totally irrational. It felt like everyone actually listened and internalized what had been said. I’ll state without an inkling of a doubt that Jam that Session is an amazing platform for poets.I totally endorse it.

Comic Book: 15 April, Little Theatre, 8PM

Comic Book: 15 April, Little Theatre, 8PM

Koleka Putuma

Koleka Putuma

Reeling from stage high, a phenomenon that will be explained in a later blog, I fixed my eyes to the stage where the remarkable Koleka Putuma worked it out. I sometimes make the joke that Koleka is the artist formally known as Coco. When Koleka started doing poetry she was dubbed  Coco, but then one day she plainly stated on Facebook that she would like to be known as Koleka. I don’t blame this sister, she can call herself whatever she wants ‘cause when it comes down to it, she can irrefutably back it up.

What I love most about Coco is that she is a real writer.She is a skilled, concise writer , whose words mask so many meanings and metaphors and you are actually left in awe by how layered her work is.  It doesn’t hurt that she’s easy on the eyes and a great performer. Coco IS theatre and coincidentally, she is training at UCT in this art form. Please go check out the play she’ll be in soon called Comic Book. I’ll definitely be writing more about Coco in the future, she’s someone to watch.

Flo'Mantric Yabo & Nasiphi Orla Matoni

Flo’Mantric Yabo & Nasiphi Orla Matoni

Flo’Mantric Yabo & Nasiphi Orla Matoni then hit the stage with lots of finesse and a no holds barred kind of style.

Mfundo Ntobongwana, Jacqui ThePoet Dichabe,Kgothatso Motshele

Mfundo Ntobongwana,Kgothatso Motshele Jacqui ThePoet Dichabe.

To conclude the poetry section of the event Jaqui ThePoet Dichabe, Mfundo Ntobongwana  and Kgothasto Motshele graced the stage. As mentioned, Mfundo performed with me at Love Psalms and Kgothatso was also part of that show. Mfundo will be joining the Vocal Revolution team in America, playing  mentoring role for the participating contestants .

Kgothatso  is definitely something  magnificent . She has the softest  nature and she is so in tune with who she is, that it permeates so effortlessly through her work. She has the same ability that Mbali Vilikazi has with regard to storytelling. She states what she has to say plainly , but it touches because it’s so true, it is wonderful to watch her.

The three poets performed a piece simultaneously and props has to be given to them for being innovative.  After their performance Mfundo stated that he was really privileged to share the stage with Jaqui The Poet. Jaqui has been performing in Cape Town for ten years. This was the first time I witnessed her on stage. She also acts as mentor to both Mfundo and Kgothatso and if the work of these poets is testament to her work, she must be a brilliant mentor.

Loyiso Mkize

Loyiso Mkize

As the theme for this month was visual arts , the guest speaker was talented Loyiso Mkize . I have seen his art posted on Facebook and immediately liked it.Actually meeting him and speaking to him  was  rather something.

Loyiso spoke about two of his artworks, and let me tell you, this brother is for real. There is so much detail in his art and the symbolism in it , that I’m left to agree with him when he said  that just as these poets create with their words “I paint poetry”.

Loyiso is brilliant and he is also still in awe of how his art has influenced people. He said the best feeling is when younger artists deem him as inspiration. Loyiso spoke on freedom and how our generation of artists have the ability to redefine who want to be. He also has the utmost respect for women and spoke of them as queens- my kind of brother.

Jam that Session provided some magic- literally. Meet Jason, who managed to swop a card from my mouth to his, it was very crazy.

A performance by Selwalesizwe, a perscussion group, with a lead singer that pierces the soul.

 Jason Lamy.

Jason Lamy.

Sonwabile Mhlonyane, Nthabeleng Nthabie Jafta, Vuyani Lesiea

Selwalesiwe :Sonwabile Mhlonyane, Nthabeleng Nthabie Jafta, Vuyani Lesiea

I met the members of Green Grass Grow. The performed with Mongz Baritone are they are fantastic. This group, who are a  kaleidoscope of cultures,  translates music through a  unique  sound .

I also managed to experience The Fam before they hit the stage. These gents are MC’s of the highest order. I was sitting outside with my friends and they just started spitting rhymes about us sitting there.I have mad respect for MC’s their ability and talent are true manifestations of God, they are insane.

Mc's spitting timeless rhymes.

Mc’s spitting timeless rhymes.

The Fam: Kuthula Magubane, Silo Sithole , Thokozani Khoza, Lungelo Dlamini

The Fam: Kuthula Magubane, Silo Sithole , Thokozani Khoza, Lungelo Dlamini

I have to give a shout out to the Dj’s that held it down. Your jams had the jammers going! Apologies to the acts I never got to see, I had to slip even though the party was still in full force when I left. Apologies to those that are not mentioned.

It was great being able to meet everyone and talk art . My last blog post

https://shouldbetold.wordpress.com/2013/04/05/this-is-not-hollywood-or-the-uk-or-or-or/ I made some  tongue-in-cheek  comments with regard to being paid for one’s art form.

I however, omitted that it is not that easy as I made it out to be. Obie informed me that the entry fee just about covers the venue, the bouncers and the sound engineer for the event.  If you’ve ever organized a gig, you know that this in itself is a pretty penny.

We did discuss that by getting your event to be reputable, then allowing you to  apply for various sponsorships, which would hopefully lighten the load. Sponsorships also you the prospect of then paying your artists. Obie let me know that they are in talks for sponsorship and that paying the artists   performing at Jam that Session,   is something they are working toward.

Given that I was a performer at the gig, I do have a few tips for the organizers.  Clear communication is imperative, so with regard to sound checks, whoever is organizing the event should set the sound check closer to the time of the gig, in that way not having your artists mill around unnecessarily.

This is a tough one,  but my advice to organizers is to start on time, or at least an half-hour after the scheduled time of the event.   I understand the logic in waiting longer to pull a bigger crowd for the performers, but, one can’t  neglect the audience members who were punctual.

Sending  the set list to your performers before the event also helps so that you create a line of communication and  give your artists and idea of what to expect before hand.

If possible, only have the equipment needed on stage  for a specific performance. Too many electronics and instruments on the stage create an eyesore for your audience and may also hinder the artist’s performances.

Further than that, I would say I thoroughly enjoyed the gig. It reminded me of a mixture of  Nicole Biondi’s (nee Moody) monthly  Verses  that took place at the old Zula bar  and it also showed resemblances to Toni Stuart and Kent Lingeveldt’s   Expression Sessions, that occurred at the former   Ragazzi.

Jam that Session is cool, l because it allows for all art forms and contrary to my initial perception, this event is not exclusive, but evidently  inclusive.

Check them out here : Jam that Session to support their monthly show.


This is not Hollywood. Or the UK or, or, or.

Jam that session, Ragazzi Live Bar , 2PM, R30

Jam that session, Ragazzi Live Bar , 2PM, R30

I had an interesting conversation with a fellow artist on Monday. He is rather fortunate in the sense that he is able to just do art and use his skills as an DJ to produce and engineer music for other artists and thereby, make a living through his art.

This is not the case for me. My primary love is writing poetry, then only the other forms of literature, so in order to maintain this lavish ( not really) lifestyle of mine, I have a day job. Fortunately my job is a hub of producing literature and art, but to cut to the chase, I can’t leave my job and decide to just be a poet. I am not Shakespeare, there is no one commissioning me to write anything. Truth be told, I’ve only been paid once for a gig relating to poetry, and that was at the Design Indaba 2012, where through the help of Roxanne Blaise, I secured a gig where I typed my poetry on a monitor which was projected on the walls where a concert of various musical acts performed at Cape Town city hall.

I was not the focus,anyone could have done that job by getting a few poems and typing them, the advantage I had is that most of my poetry is committed to memory, so I suppose I was the shoe in, in this capitalist society, I was the one that was able to produce, produce produce.

Point is, when talking to said artist, I asked him, what am I doing wrong? Surely given that I’ve always had positive reception to what I’ve done, how is it that no funds are generated from my art? It’s obvious I suppose..who in heavens name do I think I am?! I am not famous (yet) , I do not have the elaborate curriculum vitae’s of the artists I mentioned in my previous post-

https://shouldbetold.wordpress.com/2013/04/03/a-picture-is-worth-more-than-a-thousand-words/.

But as with anyone there is some self-regard and belief that I am good at what I do. I believe in what I have to say and I keep working at it in the hope of…..well, change, I suppose. Societal change, and perhaps also to play a hand in art appreciation in this city and over all this country ( very ambitious , I know).

As much as I am opposed to certain aspects of capitalism, the truth is ‘everybody’s got to make a living’. In 2009, during the Cape Town Book fair , I had the great luck of meeting and attending a workshop by Zena Edwards,  a poet from the UK. She informed us that she was able to make a living solely off her poetry. Imagine! And although I’m not the biggest fan of American culture, you have to admit, somehow how they have done right by their artists.They have created the biggest industry for people who perform, act and entertain. People in arts are celebrated, and this gives a fresh perspective on the word celebrity, whose etymology stems from celebration.

I would not want us to be Hollywood, but structure, acknowledgement and celebration wouldn’t be the worst thing for South African artists.

Right, so now we are back into this investigation of what I was doing wrong, nothing I suppose, it actually comes down to what need to do right. Said artist, suggested documenting what I’ve done ( I suppose, this is part of what this blog is too), but he said ‘get someone to take pictures at your gigs, compile a list of what you’ve done and when the opportunity arises, bust out that packaging and you already have an advantage”.

Good idea, it’s in the marketing, you basically have to submit to being a commodity. My reaction was “bleh, do I really have to?”. He then he asked me “Roché if nobody ever pays you for a single poem or piece of writing, would you stop writing and performing?” and my answer was “No”. I love writing, I love performing, that’s the truth. Even if I’d only ever be the poet who is asked by family members and friends to write anything ( this has happened, I am the official wedding/21st/ 50th birthday/anniversary poet amoungst my family and friends), I would do it in a heartbeat, and hopefully forever.

When I started writing poetry it was just a means of expression.An outlet.I would have never thought of sharing or turning my poetry into a commodity. I am that girl who had a whole relationship where we communicated solely in poetry , and it was normal,just something we done to share our love.

At present , I know how powerful a tool poetry is and perhaps that is why I’d like to think that I can use it for the betterment of something.

So yes, this is not Hollywood or the UK or, or ,or. Point is if you’re doing art in Cape Town ( more so than Johannesburg), you better know why you’re doing it.What is the point of your art? You better think long and hard about what personal sustenance your art brings you, ‘cos honey child, this ain’t Hollywood. Know your cause , know what you stand for, try to embody it too, be the preacher-teacher you were always meant to be. Know what you’re fighting for. In my experience, Cape Town artists/spoken word poets are driven by love and change, if you want to be in any sort of game, that’s the game to choose-consciousness and change.

Blaq Pearl ( Cape Town, singer song writer , poet and performer)  put’s it aptly in her song A peoples worth. Know it and breathe why you do what you do. That said, this is me being a shameless commodity, ‘cos it’s another gig without a dollar for me, but there is still a dream.

So, this Sunday at Ragazzi Live bar in Loop Street I’ll be performing at Jam that Session. Doors open at 2PM and the entry fee is R30. Show a sister a little love. Dankie!


For Adam, and Smaller things to love

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About two weeks ago (it seems this remembrance style has become my signature), I received a phone call from my manageress at 7am. If you are in the working world, phone calls at that hour come with a sense of foreboding. Little did I know that it was good news! I had been given the day off. This was not unwarranted. That week was hectic. It was the Woordfees in Stellenbosch and the nature of my work required me to be up 5am every morning, then to jet through to Stellenbosch and work until that usual 16:30 mark hit. Needless to say I was exhausted, so the off day was very welcome. Of course there was a catch, I had to work on the Saturday again at the Woordfees, but I thought the trade was adequate, so I agreed.

Saturday morning comes and regret seeps in. It’s the weekend and I’m suddenly reminded just how much I loathe working on weekends. I arrive at the office, unload the weeks stock from my managers  car, restock it with the new material,and since she broke her arm that week ( note: Woordfees week may result in injury) it was a solo job. Additionally I had to drive , and granted that I don’t have my license yet ( I have my learners, I’m in the process, so I’m not entirely illegal), it was a rather taxing experience zooming through to Matieland in her green Peugeot convertible with the clock ticking.

Once we arrived where De Vette Mossel had set up that day, De Vette Mossel being a mobile seafood restaurant that creates a beach feel while cooking sea food on open fires, I swarmed with Afrikaans educators wanting to buy our product. It was a day catered for them by a subsection of the Woordfees called WOW – Woorde open wêrelde or Words open worlds. WOW aims to boost literacy in the Western Cape by creating reading and literacy projects at schools. They do amazing work.

The educators were seated and enjoyed a talk on technology in the classroom;an ideal opportunity for me to take out a book and to read. But as luck had it , the work started. Arrangements: over the phone, via sms, yes it turned out to be a normal working day. I needed the program of the day to ensure that all other things that had to done that day, would be done. I searched for a timetable of the days proceedings and the lady at reception offered me one. When glancing over the program, I read it. That was the moment my attitude changed. It read: Gedigte Vi’ Adam Small ( Poems for Adam Small). I had hit the jackpot.

Adam Small is a noted Afrikaans poet and playwright. His poetry and plays include a dialect called Kaaps spoken by the “coloured” working class of Cape Town. He has also been dubbed an activist , given that his writing reflected and contested the past political views of South Africa.

Imagine then, how elated I was! The anthology to be launched that day is titled Gedigte Vi’ Adam Small  and it pays homage to the Adam.  Writers were asked to write a poem for Mr. Small and 23 of these poems were selected and compiled to produce the anthology. Additionally the anthology includes a CD with recordings of some of Small’s poems and excerpts from his plays. The submitted poems from the included poets are also recited on the CD.

The panel discussion and presentation was led by Iris Bester, who had months before mentioned her involvement in the anthology upon a visit to our offices. Alongside Iris sat Magdeleen Krüger, Fanie Olivier, Pieter Odendaal, Willem Fransman Jnr. nd Randall Wicomb. Rosalie Small, Adams wife was also present at the launch and the welcome was done by the coordinator of the Woordfees Dorethea van Zyl.

Iris played some of the recordings from the CD and I was amazed at the respect offered by the educators as the listened attentively, laughed appropriately and internalized sincerely.  Randall Wicomb dispersed two songs, in Afrikaans but most noted to me, was Pieter Odendaal. Pieter’s reputation precedes him; he is Stellenbosch University student and plays a big role in the running of the InZync poetry sessions in Stellenbosch. I shared a stage with him once, at an event called The Distance between Page to Stage at the 2012 Open Book Festival. He was captivating; in the same way he was at this launch. He wrote a poem which explained to Mr Small that his father was a good man. Pieter’s writing is twofold, as it is simple and layered at the same time. He is emotive and recites his work in true spoken word style.

I decided to write my own Ode to Adam Small entitled Kaapse Vader. The translation can be found underneath.

Kaapse vader,

dankie vir die taal
dat vertaal is.
 
‘n kultuur vasgevang
In algemene woorde
deur uitdrukkings
wat ons stories oordra
In net U manier.
 
Waardeering , respek
herkenning gee ons oor
want U pogings
het ons werklikhede onbedek
in verhale van alledaagse lewe
wat gedokumenteered is deur U werk.
 
Kaapse vader,
dankie vir die vergunning
om gerus te wees in ons herkoms
vir die stem van trots en aanvaarding
van die afgeskeepte mensdom.
 
Vir die drome van die kinders
wat op die vlaktes woon
wat in  selfvertroue staan
sonder berperkings van tyd
want hulle is ook opgeneem in geskiedenis
met U kuns.
 
‘n baanbreker in alle opsigte
dat ons net in verenigde verwondering staan
aan die werk van U lewe , hande en gedagtes
sodat Kaaps ontstaan.
 
Cape father,
thank you 
for the decoded tongue
a culture captured
in simple terms
expressing our
stories
in it’s unique way.
 
We offer appreciation, respect
and recognition
for through your efforts
our realities are made known
telling tales of everyday living
focalised.
Cape father,
thank you for assurance
of being  seated in our heritage.
For the proud voice and validation
of a marginalized community.
 
For the dreams of children
living on the flats
who stand self-assured
without
the restrictions of time
by inclusiveness in history
through your art.
 
A pioneer on all fronts
united we stand  in awe
at the work of your life,
hands and mind
only from there could Kaaps arise.
 
All honour and glory
Cape father.

Adam Small manages to convey his story and not negate his truth. Through his writing he has also reflected the “coloured “culture, which many may argue is not existent. This is why I respect him.

Of course, even in his seventies, he still managed to stir up some controversy. Adam won the Hertzog prize in 2012 for his contribution to Afrikaans drama. However opinions were raised that the Academy broke and overstepped their own rules which states that :in order to qualify for the prize, a write should have produced material in the preceding three years. This was not the case with Adam Small. His last work was written in 1983. Many have said the award was long overdue, considering the strong affiliation the academy had with Afrikaans nationalism, which marginalized many authors of colour within Afrikaans literature. Controversial indeed, and definitely a man who managed to transcend boundaries.

That one working Saturday turned into such blessing and issued me a story that just had to be told.