All hail the Queen, Vuyelwa Maluleke

After an intense finale at the Soweto Theatre, writer, scriptwriter, voice over artist, and poet, Vuyelwa Maluleke was crowned Queen of the Mic for 2015 at our 5th Annual Festival earlier this month. We sat down with our new Queen to see how she feels.


KG: This is not the first time you compete in the poetry League. What made this year different?
V: Yea, I keep being asked that and the question is always did I have a point to prove? Does winning the slam heighten me in this space now? I think the answer to these questions is that I had a different intention with my poems, they belonged to me, but were not always about me, I was writing of black womanhood, of experiences that were mine and my friend and my sister. I was purposeful in how simple I was with the language because I want my mother and my aunt to on first hearing see themselves in these poems or recognize me simply. I wanted to be accessible, I think it’s cool to fuck with language, to use whatever word you choose, however you should be mindful in choosing your words how they operate in further alienating people from the experience of emotions, people and places you describe. Because I swear when I hear ‘big words’ in spoken word, you lose me every time. I’m not taking that poem home, I can’t figure it out, this is not an English test, do you want me to get it or not?
And that’s my bias right, but it exists for others too. I had an audience member say to me once ‘the problem is that you poets are trying to show us how smart you are and that’s not what I’m here for’ She was right.

KG: Who did you think would win?
V: No bullshit, I thought anyone could shine that day, and it was true. On the day I thought Thobani would win because he had the audience eating out of his palm. That’s a relief to witness because after that you’re like well then fuck it, I’m going to do my poems and I’m going to do them so well so I can go to sleep after this, I can grab a drink and know that I did me.

KG: Poetry isn’t the only kind of literature you write. What makes it different from the rest?
V: It is mine, the criticisms of it feel like criticisms of me, I do it even when it does not pay me.

KG: How does it feel being the winner?
V: Lol, I keep waiting to wake up feeling like ‘the winner’ but nah, it hasn’t activated yet,also there was a three point difference. I’m lucky

KG: What inspired your response to Kagiso Tshepe’s Manufacturing Kings?
V: I responded to the poem and not the poet, because for myself I needed to answer ‘how are we manufacturing kings in this country? What is making it difficult?’

KG: Which poem that you performed are you most chuffed with?
V: I love love performing 16 Scenes For Compassion because there are so many people in it. The fact that people come to me and say ‘I’m 13 or I’m 3’.

KG: What advise do you have for anyone who wants to win Poetry League next year?
V: What is your intention with your work and this moment? Answer that first.

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