This Valentine’s Day, 21 of poets from the SADC region will come together for the release of the #SADCLovePoetryMixtape. The project is a collection of poems in English, IsiZulu, IsiXhosa, Siswati, Sesotho, Sepedi, SeTswana, Shona, Fresh, and Portuguese.
We caught up with Vus’muzi Phakathi, the man behind the project and this is what he had to say.
How did the idea for the #SADCLovePoetryMixtape come about?
The focus of The Current State of Poetry (CSP) in 2015 is to explore and unify the various poetry scenes in the African continent as part of the mammoth task of creating a stable and sustainable poetry industry. This is made possible through strong relationships between the numerous scenes. This, coupled with the idea of taking a break from all the negativity gnawing at our continent and shifting our focus to spreading love, the idea of a “love mixtape” then came up. Valentine’s Day seemed best as the day of release.
We aim to put poetry on radio in as many regions as possible to broaden our market; this is our first step towards achieving that.
How did the selection of poets work? What were you looking for in the artists you included?
CSP went in search of poets who are both skilled and have established themselves as brands in their regions. Every region has a prominent poetry house that hosts events and thus knows the hardest working poets in that particular region. For the most part, these are the people we approached, asking for three poets, and from that three, we made our selection based on the quality of the work relative to the nature of this particular project.
You have been asked about the lack of women in the project. Why are so few women featured on the album? Should balancing gender representation be a priority for curators of projects like this and even shows and festivals?
Mh…the aim of this project was not to balance out the genders, but to feature poets that stand out the most in each region. In a vocation such as this one, I don’t believe that gender should matter; a poet is a poet, period.
What are the first 3 poems we should download and why?
Lol! Uhm…My answer on this one is quite bias. My favorite poems are Matete Motsoaledi’s ‘Ga ke Dumeli’, The Last Man’s ‘Inhlitiyo Ngumholi’ and Gontse Wa Chaane’s ‘Moratuwa’.
These are well writ and beautifully delivered poems in the poets’ native languages. They are beautiful. Kodwa ke, all the poems in the mixtape are beautiful J, it’s an awe-filled project.
What can we expect from The Current State Of Poetry next?
CSP will be releasing bi-monthly mixtapes of this kind with the aim of covering every country in the African continent. Other projects include The One-on-One Slam Championship, a Poetry Compilation Album featuring Koleka Putuma, Siyabonga Njica, Nomashenge Dlamini, Page Ngwenya, Gratitude Fisher and Modise Sekgothe, due on April 25, a few poetry-in-performance theatre productions, and a few tours.
The Mixtape will be available on Bozza.mobi for free download from 00:00 February 14 2015.