No stranger to the Word N Sound stage, Carlos NoLIFE Ncube is a poet, actor, graffiti artist, soon-to-be editor and journalist. Quite the charismatic performer and passionate about his craft, we had a quick q&a with him ahead of his #PoetryLeague Showcase at Episode 6 of the Word N Sound Series on Sat, 04 July 2015.
KG: What is your current occupation and what do you aspire to be one day?
NoLIFE: I am currently a student at Wits University and I work as a Journalist for Verbal Streams Online Magazine. I already am what I aspire to be. I just need to take my skills beyond what I am doing now. Maybe get into the business of media.
KG: Please tell us more about The Infinite Faces of NoLife, how and why this came about.
NoLIFE: The Infinite Faces of NoLIFE have always been there. My work is grounded in understanding human experiences, and experience of the self from different perspectives. All of which are relative to each other. I find better understanding, of peoples situations by being them or using their stories to recreate myself in the circumstances. In personal poems, I just try to find myself by isolating my personality traits and habits into individual characters. It is cathartic.
KG: How do you choose your names?
NoLIFE: They are contextual. I don’t choose them, they usually just come entangled in the story I am trying to tell. The name Smile Richards is my late uncles name. So you could say I spoke through him, to speak to him.
KG: I read on your Facebook page that there seems to be a misunderstanding about your many faces and stage names. What aren’t people understanding?
NoLIFE: People aren’t understanding that performance based artists are faceless, matter of fact, everybody is faceless, we just choose masks according to the situations we are in, to ensure that the most effective communication takes place because our social orientation is different to different people (in other words … there are levels to this). A role always comes with a name, you never have to ask an actor why they have a different name every time their on stage for a different production. One thing to always keep in mind, is that we all wear masks. So NoLIFE is anybody and everybody. I’m like Keyser Soze.
KG: Can you give us a sneak peak into your showcase this week?
NoLIFE: We all wear masks and that’s what makes us equal.
KG: I see you will be adding the title of editor to your resume. Please tell us more about how that came about and what your vision for this book is?
NoLIFE: I approached Allan Kolski Horwitz founding member and Editor of Botsotso Publishers after the release of Home Is Where The Mic Is to ask if anybody had come forward with a proposal for a new anthology and he said no. So, I took advantage of that. What I discussed with Allan was the ancientness of the English that we are being taught in schools and how, instead of being taught “English” we are being taught the history of English. Shakespeare is not relevant to a person like me, Dante was not an English writer, Arther Miller wrote about a familiar concept in a foreign context (the Crucible). So, the vision is to produce a literary text that is relevant to young South Africans who are still making sense of their world. It is possible to reach them because occasionally I perform for high school students, who appreciate the poetry for its relevance and aesthetics. Would you rather have your kids reading Alexander Pope or NoLIFE, see what I am getting at? We’re looking for 40 of South Africa’s wordsmiths.
KG: You made a “comeback” to the WNS stage this year, the last of which got you the longest standing ovation from the audience. That performance was also our first disqualification of the year. Tell me a little more about that poem you performed, which stage name you used then, and how it felt that you were disqualified.
NoLIFE: It was the first disqualification ever on the WNS stage. Ever. I didn’t really care for being disqualified because my performance was brilliant and the audience was entertained, and my message was received. I stopped investing my energy in competing to focus more on performance and getting my message across. A lot of poets forget themselves and their purpose when they invest a lot of time in wanting to champion the WNS stage and find acceptance from that one audience. We don’t talk about these things, we focus so much on platform but we never consider what it does to younger poets. I say this not as somebody who is bitter, but rather as somebody who has experienced this. On the day I recited the poem group therapy under the name Maxwell Keeble.
I didn’t make a come back (lol). You make it sound like I fell from grace. I just wanted to perform.