At the 6th Annual Word N Sound International Festival, we held the Poetry League finale. After three nail-biting rounds, we crowned B-Lyrical, Queen of the Mic for 2016.
We had a quick chat with our new Queen, B-Lyrical.
KG: Who is Bella Cox and what is one little known fact about you?
BELLA: Who I am is still a question I am asking myself. I am becoming.
But a little known fact about me is that I am not South African. It always seems to surprise the people I meet here, but I have only been here for 4 years! There are still some South African customs and slang that I don’t understand and words that my accent has not adapted to – to the great amusement of my friends! So don’t be surprised if some of my words sound strange!
KG: How does it feel being yet another Queen of the Mic?
BELLA: It feels fantastic to be this years’ Queen of the Mic! It’s a goal I’ve had since I properly began slamming at Word n Sound in 2014 and I am just beyond excited and proud to have achieved it!
KG: How do you feel about the slammers you were up against?
BELLA: The other slammers are all worthy competitors who care about the art form and I was intrigued to hear about what and how they performed on the day. I would like to think I have a good relationship with all four of them 🙂
KG: Which one of the poems that you performed were you most happy about performing?
BELLA: I think I was most excited to perform my poem #NotAllMen with Emmah because we had been rehearsing it for SO long and I was just really keen to see the audience reaction to the new format and setting of it. It went really well and I’m so glad that we did put so much energy into it because it ended up being so worth it.
KG: If you hadn’t won, who do you think would have taken it?
BELLA: Honestly, I was so surprised by the top 3 at the end of the third round that even I was shocked that I took it!
It was such a roller coaster ride of a day and because we slammers were unfortunately not able to watch our competitors performances during the show none of us really had any idea how it was all going. I still don’t know exactly which poems everyone else performed! So I couldn’t tell you.
KG: What was one of your highlights during the slam?
BELLA: I think for me, it’s always that moment that writer Shonda Rhimes calls “The Hum” that I love the most. When everything is in motion and working the way you want it to and your words, the energy, the lights, the sound and the audience are all in sync and you are at the center of it doing exactly what you love and have worked for.
During these finals I felt that “Hum” most clearly after my round one performance when I could feel just how invested I was in the piece and everyone and everything was there with me. That was (one of) my highlight(s).
KG: Some say that slamming is emotionally and physically taxing. How do you overcome that ‘fatigue’?
BELLA: Those ‘some’ would be right!
It is incredibly draining in many many ways and although it is rewarding too and it is my passion, it can indeed become very taxing.
I make sure that as much as possible I am able to give myself a full day off after a big performance like this one. I need at least one day to be fully by myself, to eat yummy health foods and drink tea and regroup before I even begin judging and critiquing my performance.
That’s a thing I think we poets do a lot of too soon; critiquing ourselves straight afterwards. I think it is important to basque in the glory for a while before fishing for the faults. So I give myself time to come back to myself gently… and once I feel secure I then get critiquing and writing and rehearsing for the next big thing!
KG: What tips do you have for those who will be going for the title in 2017?
BELLA: Hmm. Good question. Well.
a) Remember that if you’ve made it to the festival, that proves that you have been growing and succeeding ALL YEAR and that is a huge accomplishment in itself!!!
b) Remember that spoken word poetry can be a very elusive art form and that the judges scores from a slam, no matter how fair, are always going to be subjective so do not judge yourself by any numbers given to your work be they positive or negative(!!) but rather by how much you feel you have improved since your last piece.
Remember to BREATHE and center yourself before and after every performance. If you look nervous or unsure of yourself the audience will question your validity and if you don’t take care of yourself when coming off stage your performance will become more pain than joy. And last but not least, get Lwazi as your coach! Haha!