Vuyelwa Maluleke: Black Girl Plotting

Vuyelwa Maluleke is working on a showcase never seen before on the Word N Sound stage. “BlackGirlPlotting” is a collaborative project she’s working on with her partner Andisiwe Mpinda. We had a chat with Vuyelwa, and this is what she had to say about her upcoming showcase and some other interesting facts like what she thinks about Blessers.

Listening to some of your poems, one could say there’s a lot of references on the lived experience of women. Could you please explain why your poems are so heavily influenced by women?

I’m extremely apprehensive of such questions because I wonder if men are asked the same, or if it’s the result of my assertion that my work is interested in archiving Black womanhood, however I write about other things. The ‘we and you’ in poems like ‘THIS COUNTRY IS A LIAR’ and 1978.

To answer your question is to say whilst the performance of my writing is a public and communal experience it begins first as a personal articulation of questions and observations I may have. I have said many times that I write from a particular location (this is an unnecessary assertion because we all do, however it is not the only position we are capable of speaking from). I cannot in my writing put down my Blackness or my Womanness, I cannot ignore my mothers and how it has survived and triumphed. I do not inhabit a society that does not judge me by looking at me, my race and gender influence how I navigate society. The world reacts to me on the basis of what I present physically, society has included and excluded me on the basis of my intersecting position, I am interested in poetry’s ability to ask why, how, and when it might stop.

You’ve performed on the Word N Sound stage before, what makes this coming performance any different from the rest?
I have a creative partner now, Andisiwe Mpinda and together we are BLACKGIRLPLOTTING. I am interested and excited in that collaboration and the work we are together. She adds an amazing voice and perspective in the work, she also challenges me a lot, I hate it and I enjoy it because it moves me out of my comfort.

Poets are known to reflect the reality within a society, with that said what’s your take on Blessers, the current phenomenon in our society?
I can say that the growing phenomenon of blessers is the result of a systematic problem of economic disenfranchisement of black bodies, in particular Black girl/woman bodies (not negating that Blessers could also be women). Blessers would be unnecessary if people were able to financially emancipate themselves from poverty and class exclusion.

Whilst there is on one hand an attraction to blessers because it is necessary for someone’s survival. there is also, between both parties, a materialistic attraction and transaction. Alternatively one could say people like nice things, if they are of age, how they go about procuring them is also their choice.

What are the challenges of being a full time poet?
People expect you to do things for free, the problem of procuring consistent work, and being part of what people describe as an ‘obscure’ art

Congratulations on being part of the crew who went to Berlin for the poetry and music collaboration. After your trip, could you now say that poetry in South Africa is getting the recognition it deserves?

Recognition is subjective and fleeting, so I don’t care, I do my work regardless.

Catch Vuyelwa live this Saturday at the Word N Sound Poetry League at the Market Theatre Lab, Bus Factory | 3 Helen Joseph Str, Newtown.


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