Radioactive Poetry 1.0
//Featuring poetry from South Africa, Zimbabwe, Zambia, and Senegal //
Wassup fam. I'm back again, and this time we're getting the first Radioactive Poetry article off the ground. I got quite a lot to talk about once again because a lot has been happening in the poetry scene, so without wasting any more time, let's get into it.
First up, we would like to congratulate Prof Mongane Wally Serote on being honoured with the National Poet Laureate Prize at the South African Literary Awards, which were held recently in Pretoria, South Africa. His first book titled Yakhal’inkomo was published in 1972 which went on to win the Ingrid Jonker Prize for debut poetry in English (and other multiple prizes). Mongane's critically acclaimed novel "To Every Birth Its Blood (1981)" is based on the 1976 Soweto uprising and its aftermath, and his celebrated poems, including City Johannesburg and Alexandra, explore the nuances of life under apartheid. He's the author of "Rumours", "God's of our time"and "Revelations" just name a few. You can read more about him on SA History Org and Poetry International Web , (find out more about what the National Poet Laureate Programme is all about here).
Next up, we have the multi-award winning spoken-word artist, actor, playwright, vocalist and percussionist "Modise Sekgothe". He recently dropped "Meera Me" (Stream/Download) - a multimedia experience which meticulously navigates through his relationship with Lerato Mbangeni. The 9 track album was made available on online stores on the 5th of November, then a few days later, Emakhaya Theatre in Joburg witnessed Meera Me 2 (which was described as a "preview rather than a debut. It was open to a limited audience, as it is still a work in progress and perhaps still an experiment"). This took from Meera Me I and furthers the narrative, post the dynamics of its inspiration, and the main focus of this particular show was poetry. I was not able to attend the show, however, I've decided to share one of the audience member's feedback:
"Last night, I went to watch Modise Sekgothe’s Meera me ll offering. I was transported to my own life, my own memories of love, of loss, of my capacity to sit quietly with my aloness and the times I have preferred to fill my feelings of emptiness. At times I felt my own pain and other times my eyes danced at the memories of my joys as snippets flashes before me I was reminded of that which I still want to live for and how I relate to death . I reflected on the times I have not loved myself enough and allowed allowed others to take my love for granted . It was a lot....it was a lot, yet I needed to hear it all
(This is one of his poems that I managed to capture, mostly I had to be in the moment completely )
Badimo ba ga Sekgothe , rea leboga"- Keo Wa Aforika (FB post)
You can listen to the first poem which shares the same title as the album "Meera Me" on SoundCloud . For those that may not be familiar with his previous work, you can stream his first EP "DIPOKO tsa DIPOKO" here. Qhakaza Mthembu from Word n Sound managed to interview Modise and Lerato quite a while back, so you can definitely peep that article to get more depth on what the EP is all about and what inspired it (Read the interview here). My favourite poems from the album are "Our Home", "Apart", "Alchemist of Agony" and "Relationship wrecked". It's really dope how the ambient melodies perfectly compliment his Spoken word, which is something he's fond of, and made s of in his first EP. You can catch Modise at the American corner on the 29th of November, at "Last Thursday's Poetry Session" in Pretoria.
Still on the South African tip, I would like to congratulate Thuthukani Myeza (The Neo Zulu ) on making it all the way to the finals of the "Coupe d'Afrique de Slam poésie, CASP (Africa Cup of Slam Poetry)", which was hosted in CHAD. He came second to Abdourahamane Dabo (Al Faruq) from Senegal.
This was the first edition of this slam, and it hosted 20 African countries/candidates in the Chadian capital, at the Al Mouna Culture Centre and the Baba Moustapha House of Culture. Lens Ulrich Kami of Gabon took 3rd place by managing to overcome Mesko R. Tellah of Togo. A big shout goes to all the organisers such as Current State of Poetry and Mlom'wakho (just to name a few) that created platforms for poets to compete in their respective countries and therefore eventually qualify to take part in this competition after being crowned as the national poetry slam winners (in their country).
It's really great to see how poetry is continuing to grow each year, especially with the way it's also being recognised and supported by different local and international stakeholders. We still got a long way to go, but we seem to be heading in the right direction. I was quite pleased to see the South African minister of Arts and Culture show his support and congratulate Thuthukani Myeza, and the president of Senegal also congratulated Abdourahamane Dabo on Twitter.
Still in Senegal, we going to catch up with the spoken word artist "Arif" . From his real name Elhadji Cheikh Amath Niang, he calls himself on stage Arifstyle, etymologically meaning scholar who unveils his verses with a certain technicality and class. Whenever he's on stage, and the microphone is in his hands, he enters into a trance and communicates deeply with his audience his art transposes it into a universe where he rubs social well-being, religion, politics, he puts himself on his pedestal as these poets identifying with hills scrutinising the future, seeing what others can not perceive and while making a clairvoyant analysis.
Urban poetry commonly called Slam Arifstyle is one of the precursors of this art on the Dakar scene with the famous Friday Slam organized at the French Cultural Center. He will be performing in Ivory Coast at #Ecritude (Spectacle de Slam et de Poésie) which is being hosted by Ecole Des Poetes . You can check out some of his work here.
Moving on. The Shortlists for the 2018 Writer's Awards were published a few days ago by Writer's Trust. There are 4 categories: "Children's Literature", "Short Stories", "Poetry", and "Flash Fiction". The Radioactive Blog would like congratulate all the writers that made it to the shortlists, especially Philani. A Nyoni from Zimbabwe (pictured above) and Petronella Nyirenda from Zambia (pictured below) . You can access the full lists on the Writers Trust website . The awards will be presented at the 2018 AWC dinner and awards night scheduled for the first of December 1. To find out more about the 2018 African Writers Conference, Click here.
One of the comments from the judges -which I found interesting - was as follows: "Some male poets were not selected due to the poet personae they used. For a topic as sensitive as gender and in particular, the girl child, the male author cannot be seen as telling the girl child story but rather amplifying it by playing a supportive role or educating other men as to their responsibilities." – Kolabomi Adeko, Nigeria . This was in regards to the Poetry submissions that were made. You can find more comments on the website.
Philani - more popularly known as PAN - is the author of Philtrum 2.0, A poetry collection inspired by former President Robert Mugabe’s rule. He's an award-winning author, poet, actor, filmmaker and blogger, plus he holds the world record for the most Shakespearen sonnets in a manuscript. He's short story entitled 'Celestial Incest' was the piecethat was shortlisted. Petronella Nyirenda - more popualrly known as the Scarlet Knight is the author of Jemimah. "This is a book of verses for a 'baby sister', offering wise sisterly advice for the health of the body, mind and spirit. It's written in a soft language and tone, yet sharply speaking timely to vital themes of life in a way only poetry can. Themes on embracing self vis-a-vis the power of being a woman, venturing out to greatness without restrain, and the necessity of God." Her poem entitled 'Beauty'was shortlisted among the other writers.
This year has been quite a roller coaster ride for poetry, and as much as we celebrate it's growth on the African continent, we also lost a few heroes: South African poet and political activist Professor Keorapetse "Bra Willie" Kgositsile (left) ; Zimbabwean Spoken word artist Mutsa Diana Shiripinda - popularly known as "Rae Lyric" (centre) - was a media graduate and poetry coordinator; Zambian performance poet, Luka Mwango (right) was signed to Bittersweet Poetry Zambia, the author of Twisted and Perdition, and a novice screen-writer . These poets passed away this year, and I've decided to share with you some of their content/books that they published:
1. Rae Lyric - Ghetto (Watch)
2. Luka - Breathe ft. Lennox (Listen)
3. Poetry by Keorapetse Kgositsile (Watch)
4. Rae Lyric - A promotional video filmed by Tafadzwa Ranganai (Wacth)
5. Luka - Does God Exist (Watch)
6. Part 1 - Free the Word! In conversation with Keorapetse Kgositsile (Watch)
8. Luka @BitterSweet The Ultimate Slam Poetry Competition (Watch)
9. Rae Lyric - Lost (Listen)
11. Keorapetse Kgositsile - This Way I Salute You (Read)
All these 3 writers played a significant role towards promoting literature in the respective communities that they lived in. Kgositsile became South Africa’s first poet laureate in 2006, and was known for how he intertwined politics, poetry and jazz to create a unique South African literary voice. Rae Lyric resided in Harare and hosted weekly open mic sessions at the National Art Gallery, as well as performed at a number of national & international festivals. Luka was known for having an unquestionable command and poise when he was on the mic, performed on various stages in Zambia, and was also a performance coach who regularly coached slam poets around the country (plus taught theatre and performance in primary and secondary schools). May their souls continue to Rest In Peace.
You can read more about these 3 poets on the following articles:
Remembering Keorapetse Kgositsile 1938-2018 - Brand South Africa
Saying Goodbye To Zimbabwean Poet Rae Lyric - Enthuse
Zambian poet & writer Luka Mwango has passed on - James Murua's Literature Blog
I'm now going to link Keorapetse to Poetry Potion, a platform for freely accessible poetry. Their mission is to contribute to the growth and development of South African poetry as well as chronicling the best of African poetry.
"Poetry Potion was founded, in 2007, as a free access platform for all poetry lovers to discover new poetry and for poets to get published. Poetry Potion online will never be an endeavour that seeks to make profit. And Poetry Potion print is about building up enough financial resources to keep the online platform live and to build up a means to compensate and rewards poets."
The theme for their latest edition of Poetry Potion borrows itself from the collection "This way I salute you" by the late Professor Keorapetse Kgositsile. Through poetry and prose, they remember the immense contribution he has made to the arts and poetry in particular. In this edition the 25 contributors also salute the work of Black Womxn, the likes of Brenda Fassie and Maya Angelou. The Poets salute our mothers, ancestors, artists and mystics. Poetry Potion also gives a special salute to Poet and Jazz lover Myesha Jenkins. You can purchase the 14th edition of Poetry Potion here. For those looking for inspiration to write poetry, they also provide a platform for poets to submit poems based on the daily writing prompts that they share - "A poem a day submissions", so do make sure you check them out and submit.
Next topic on #RadioactivePoetry 1.0 is Les Diplomatique, all the way from Lusaka, Zambia. They are a Super duo of spoken word artists/Poets, writers and musicians (Jesse Nsofu and Amory ‘Magnifire’ Kapufi). They recently released a recording of one my favourite poems called "Made in Africa" which you can watch below. They got an album which they dropped in September this year too, so do make sure you also check it out [Good Vibes Vol 1. Stream/Download].
I believe that this is very powerful poem, and speaks to a very crucial need and problem currently faced in Africa. The poem is bound to blow you away, and as much as it might entertain you, I'm sure it will also provoke your thoughts. Don't forget to drop your feedback in the comments section. (Would love to here your views too).
We're now going to go back to South Africa to catch up with an event that took place in Joburg, as well as upcoming events that you should look out for. We're proud of Mangum Opus for hosting their event #TheCosmosTribe , which was a huge success, and we've included a couple of pics from the event of the performers. The line up was definitely exhilarating, as they featured the likes of Emmah Mabye, Nomonde Sky, Noluthando Buthelezi , Puns And Things, Mutle Mothibe, Koleka Putuma, Modise Sekgothe, Belita Andre, Nomashenge Dlamini, Wazi Kunene and a special performance by the hosts themselves. [Images below from Magnum Opus FB Page]
For those not familiar with Magnum Opus: It's a Johannesburg based poetry ensemble of three spoken word poets, Sibusiso Ndebele, Thobani Mntambo and Rabbie Wrote. The collective is published weekly in a poetry column called #PoeticLicence in the Saturday Star Newspapers print and online versions. 1 of the members, Rabbie Wrote, co-authored The Black Consciousness Reader & the collective is head of performance management at all activations for the book in collaboration with Jacana Media.
The ensemble uses multimedia to offer a cinematic poetry experience. They work with a live band called Best In The World (BITW). In June 2017 Opus released their debut EP, Kwasukasukela and they are currently recording new material to add to and remaster it with a jazz sound alongside BITW. The award-winning collaborative have won WordNSound Awards including Best showcase and Best Newcomer. The ensemble juggle 9 to 5’s and the arts. Ndebele is a Conveyancing secretary and property consultant at Hengst and McMaster. He's in his final year of studies, doing Bcom Law.
With all that being said, we've finally come to the last part of this article, where I inform you about a couple of Poetry/Literature events that are taking place around the country. There's enough to keep you preoccupied until the beginning of December
South Africa Poetry Gig Guide:
Aaaand that's about it for now. We've come to the end of our first article on the African Poetry scene (#RadioactivePoetry 1.0), and because there's still so much content that I need to share with you, I'll be publishing #RadioactivePoetry 1.1 this coming Sunday. I literally had to cut half the original article out because it was going to be too long. lol - which is a good thing, because it shows that our fellow poets are / have been very active. Anyway, One of the events that you definitely shouldn't miss is the TEWOP 1 on 1 slam featuring Koleka Putuma and Zewande BK. Bhengu on the 1st of December, because the winner will be walking away with R20000. Tickets are available here. The slam has been described as a verbal jousting; a war of literature; and a duel of vulgar poetic proportions, so it's definitely going to be hot.
I'll be introducing you to some poetry from Malawi (amongst other countries) in the next edition of #RadioactivePoetry, as well as featuring a few poets that published their anthologies this year, so make sure you subscribe to the blog so that you don't miss out. Don't forget to leave a comment and give your feedback on the content you've read/ listened to or watched. We can continue the convo on Twitter as usual @2tukani / @RPCPodcast . Keep in touch and #StayBlessed