Following the launch of Home Is Where the Mic Is, an international anthology featuring 24 poets this month, we caught up with Mandisa Vundla, co-editor of the book, to get a little insight.
How did the book come about?
I was literally helping Alan out, he had said he wanted to feature young poets in some anthology and I was just like, “Ok cool. I’ll help you out where I can”, and before I knew it I was in way over my head. So it was never a plan. This was not part of my plan, honestly. But I got on board, connected him with a few poets, and before I knew it, he was like, “When you send that email, why don’t you write co-editor by your name”, and I was just like, “Uhm, ok. Cool”.
Who are your favourite authors in the book?
I have favourite poems from most of them. There’s Azania by Mpho, there’s 21 poem salute by Afurakan, there is Modise’s Travelers, there is Vuyelwa Maluleke’s Big school… my gosh! I feel like that book features most of my favourite poems and work, which is absolutely amazing because I can read them and if they forget them, I can get on stage, like today, and help them.
To people who say poetry doesn’t sell, you would say to them…?
Get on stage with a good poem, and then afterwards, tell me if poetry doesn’t sell.
And publishers who say poetry doesn’t sell?
Do publishers think about the performance aspect of it, or do they want to just put books on shelves and hope that they can sell? It’s what I always wonder; if they have the performance aspect, if they think, “Ok, let’s organise a tour for this artist so that they can sell books after performing”, because that’s the best time to actually sell books. You don’t even have to say anything, the books sell themselves after a great performance. So I think publishers need to start adjusting to performance as well, you know?
The book is basically about poets who perform – performance poets coming onto the page. So if you’re going to sell the book, you’re going to organise a space where they can perform.
I feel like we need to be innovative about this. We are evolving, we don’t live on bookshelves only. We live everywhere.
What are things that you learned going through the publishing process of this book?
So it’s 24 poets, and each of them submitted 4 to 6 of their poems. So patience … I don’t have patience. But fortunately, because I was so involved in the process – I know most of them, I know most of their work – I could at least isolate the poems I know, I read through them very easily. So it taught me patience, and endurance. That book took almost two years to put together. The whole process was a learning curve for me.
Tell us about the cover
Literally in a heartbeat I thought about the title Home Is Where the Mic Is, and then we worked with Chimurenga. Graeme from Chimurenga designed the cover; it also went through its own phases where it had to go through different designs up until you can eventually be happy. For me, the book on its own … it’s energy. And it’s the kind of young, influential, pro-active energy that the cover needed to represent. So that’s where we were trying to go with the cover. And eventually, I think he got that – that this book has to scream. It has to say, “LOOK AT ME …. NOW! And if you’re looking at any other book, it’s not going to work. Look at me now!”
That’s what we wanted it to say because that’s what the poets and the poems are saying.
… Shoutout to Chimurenga!
Here’s how you can also get yourself a copy of the book:
Come to a Word N Sound event