In addition to Vili’s showcase at the WordNSound Poetry League, Xabiso is also set to blaze The Last Word Festival in the UK. We catch up with this talented dinosaur fanatic to find out what makes him tick.
It’s interesting to know that you’re not just a slam poet but you’ve also worked as an assistant teacher:
Yeah, I love teaching. It’s one of my many passions. Before I came to Gauteng, I was assisting in teaching English, History, Music, Xhosa and Drama in Cape Town. I love interacting with people and this is definitely one of my more enjoyable jobs.
Given the opportunity, how would you utilize poetry in the classroom?
Poetry and its performance allows for a dynamic way of interacting with the world around you. Personally, I know many of the techniques I utilize pre-performance, post-performance, during performance, even when writing a poem help me in everyday life.
So in the classroom, I think it would be important to focus on breath,
this allows you to center yourself and focus.
I would use post performance warm down and calming techniques to help students deal with stresses they might not be equipped to deal with. I think using various poetry techniques and exercises (especially at the beginning of class) would allow for deeper thinking and greater student interaction.
How do you think poetry can improve S.A’S shocking literacy statistics?
From what I’ve seen in my own workshops, what’s required is a constant interest in writing and reading. That is how literacy improves, with everyday practice. What is required from my workshops is a daily writing routine with themes inspired by other writers.
But before that, one has to spark an interest in writing and I think showcasing to students, that they have a story to tell and the ability to do so and then providing tools for accomplishing that and giving them a platform to share said stories really allows for and brings about a change in the way which literacy is perceived and understood.
You were a speaker at ‘HELLO AMBASSADOR’, a creative conference run in Pretoria.How did this platform impact your performance?
It was a really enjoyable conference, I was able to speak and engage with so many other creatives such as, Kagiso Lediga, Kojo Baffoe and Timothy Horwood, about working and producing creatively. And where these arts can take you and with the right kind of work, where they should take you.
In terms of my performance, it was an interesting experience in trying to amalgamate a general conversation about art and still keep the poetry format on stage.
I took away a lot from it and I hope my audience did too. I think it goes to show how many people crave poetry but don’t realize it as not that many people came for the poetry on the day but couldn’t stop speaking about it afterward.
You have an unusual fetish for dragons, why?
Hhehehehe. I love Dragons. There is something about their beauty, grace and magical qualities mixed in with their ferociousness, their ability to destroy, and their absolute chaos that really makes them the epitome of poetry for me.
These are creatures that can allow you to feel powerful for a moment when they are under your control but can turn around and destroy you the next. When I write, I’m always searching for that dragon in every line. I think, we as humans, do this thing where we worship the things we fear most. If anything, I worship the dragon in me, in those around me and in everything and every moment.
What valuable advice have you received as an artist?
Every day I ask myself the question, “am I an artist”. I answer that question by asking another, “Have I created today”. That really is the end all for me. I think from most artists I have ever received advice from, that is it. Create, every day, even if it kills you. The rest comes afterwards.
It is said that you don’t believe in monogamy, why?
Hahahaha!!! “It is said”, like its some legend. Um… right now, for me at this point in my life, monogamy doesn’t make sense. It hasn’t made sense for a while and I don’t know how much longer it will continue not to make sense. I have been researching polyamory (poly = many. Amory = love. Many loves) and I think this idea of love not being exclusive really appeals to me. I think just because I am with one person, that doesn’t inhibit my capacity to love another and I personally am unable from prohibiting that love or infatuation to occur.
And I don’t understand why we must do something so unnatural as to try quell our emotions. Now, I am not condoning cheating, that is a breach of loyalty and trust. There must be agreement between the partners. And really, just because polyamory exists doesn’t mean monogamy must not exist – and this is not polygamy either – everybody in the relationship is allowed to have as many partners as they like.
This type of relationship takes a bit more work and a lot more trust and a little focus on the technicalities. But I was recently in a 3 way relationship where we were all dating each other and it was the most fulfilling relationship I have ever been in, in the time that it lasted.
I am polyamorous in the same way I am vegetarian, it is my choice and you really don’t need to stop eating meat because I think my diet is healthier for me.
Which poet are you dying to collaborate with? One poet?
Out of all the poets in the world?! I’m going to choose someone far away because there are too many in South Africa. I really want to focus on collaboration work, especially starting here in Gauteng and then branching off to other provinces. So if anybody is down to collab, I’m ready.
But to work with Anis Mojgani or Jon Sands would be a dream.
How did you get involved with in the Last Word Festival?
Last year we collaborated with Roundhouse and ConnectZA on their Talking Doorsteps project through WordNSound. It was a three day workshop where a group of us created and recorded poems around the theme of home. Deanna Rodger was the facilitator and Pippa Riddick filmed. Deanna put my name forward at the Roundhouse and WordNSound informed me that I have been invited to take part in The Last Word festival in London.
I’m going to be in London from 25 May til 1 June, performing, collaborating and building connections with two other poets from Cape Town. I am so excited and think this will be a valuable opportunity to not only showcase my art but also the high standard of South African art.
Also, one last thing, I’m going to London at the end of May to perform in the last word festival. I’m taking an extra bag, in this bag I am packing any material that artists are willing to contribute. I will try either swap your material for work from London or for pounds.
Please contact Vili on 0712943364 if you have anything to contribute.
THE LAST WORD FESTIVAL
Is the first event of its kind to hit the capital, marking it as a very special occasion indeed and one that spoken word fans should not miss.
This festival of spoken word, live performance and storytelling is hosted by the Round House.
It’s set to run in London from the 16th – 31st of May 2015.
“This year’s programme includes new work from some of the UK spoken word scene’s most exciting artists, including Polarbear, Mark Grist, Talia Randall, Inua Ellams, Deanna Rodger, John Hegley, Tongue Fu, Sophie Rose, the Deaf & Hearing Ensemble, plus opportunities to get involved with masterclasses and panel discussions, free events and much more.”
If you’re in London, be sure to peep this spectacular event!!