I’ve always been an avid lover of spoken poetry. There is something about the immediacy of the form, and the true intention of the author that demands the hearer’s attention; regardless of performance aesthetic. There is something transcendental about words that swim, move, and articulate the author’s unique life story. It is very human, very earthy, very African.
May 25th was Africa Day, and I’d committed myself to attending the most recent Inzync Poetry event; which took place at Cafe Art in Stellenbosch. I’d been promising my rapper/poet friend Adrian Different (or Diff, as he is known to most) that I’d attend the sessions since its inception last year, but each time something like a gig or previous engagement would come up. I wasn’t prepared to bail out on this one.
Upon arrival I noted a tangible and deep sense of African pride in the air; even as the rest of the country frantically tried to stay ahead of the Zuma/Murray “the Spear” debacle, and the questions it had raised about art’s unremitting ability to start or douse a fire (depending on how you prefer to look at it). For the most part, it seemed that this form of spoken art with its inflections, bold articulations, and rugged pronunciation had for the better; chosen to adhere to a celebratory aesthetic.
After Diff’s initial ‘call and response’ type of crowd warmer-up, the evening got off to a hearty start with featured poets from South Africa and various other African nations delivering everything from poignant political satire to the type of praise poetry synonymous with age-old African tradition.
I particularly enjoyed Allison-Claire Hoskins’ “I Do, Do You Remember?” – a playful and nostalgic piece about remembering the beginnings of love. Her underhanded self-confidence and pride was reassuring and her delivery was lovely.
Once again, Pieter Odendaal’s cynical Afrikaans poetry was brilliant and reminded me of Breyten Breytenbach, whom I’d studied during my undergrad. Pieter’s poems were relevant, richly textured, and well-executed (and I’ve been an appreciator since I first saw him do an erotic poem he’d written for a girl I almost dated). 🙂
Another stand-out performance was that of San Records, a young hip hop trio from the Northern Cape who; under the tutelage of Antjie Krog, rap in their home language !Xun .
The highlight of the evening though, was Desiree Bailey – an extremely gifted wordsmith from Trinidad and Tobago; whose pieces about life in the Caribbean were loaded with pathos and mystique. Not only were her poems skilfully written and crafted, but her execution was impeccable. It was almost as if she’d been performing poetry for years, with little care for much else.
All in all, the vibe was great and there was such a positive energy about the event. This type of thing has for the longest time been so ‘under the radar’ in Stellenbosch – that anyone outside of the scene would feel abit out of their depth. It’s good to know that things are changing for the better, and that some of the more fringe forms are emerging rapidly in our conservative little town. Biggup to the Inzync Poetry Sessions!