Xabiso Vili is an experimental poet who set out to do an incredible poetical which almost set the whole stage on fire, however that is just to prove that the maker of Black Boi Be has no limits. This is what he had to say to get your votes for the Perfect Poem Nomination…
1. What sort of investment/effort, emotionally and physically, went into this body of work?
This poem is part of the “Boi Be” series I have been working on. This series has been one of the hardest to write because of the vulnerability and honesty I was searching for. I tried to switch off my “what makes a good poem” voice and focussed on honesty in the stories I was telling. “Black Boi Be” was especially trying because it wasn’t only a personal experience but so closely intertwined to how others relate to my blackness as opposed to how I relate to my blackness.
2. What message does your poem carry? What sort of feedback do you usually receive from your audience in regards to this poem?
In Langston Hughe’s “Not Without Laughter”, he talks about this black family in the 50’s sitting around a dinner table. How they spoke about the daily atrocities of living as black bodies in a denigrating space. Spoke of white bosses and being harassed by cops and all the rest. But whatever they spoke about, it was not without laughter. They made these conditions humorous because lord knows we wouldn’t be able to survive the times without them. This is what this piece searches to accomplish, what it invokes in the audience. A conversation around the black male body’s pain and its accountability in causing pain but not without laughter.
3. If you win the Perfect Poem award, what would that mean to you?
It would show how the hard work and investment of not only myself but all my reading and sounding boards have paid off. Last year was a time for me for stepping away from performance and focussing on writing. I’m nowhere near where I want to be but this nomination and this award proves that I’m getting closer. It’s a motivator, there’s no way I can stop writing now. To win it, would mean, on the days when writing is most difficult, when nothing comes, there will be a physical reminder that something will come, that my voice is important.
4. Any words to your fans on why they should vote for you?
I got nothing but love for the people that enjoy my work, that share it and engage. I’m so blessed to have such amazing fans. I work hard for them and make sure that my work is always of a quality to respect them. It’s an exercise in love, right. And it’s not every day that we get to show these poems that reveal themselves and love us and leave us vulnerable that we love them back. SO, please, do the thing and show “Black Boi Be” some love. Lord knows Black Bois need loving too.
Black Boi Be – Xabiso Vili
Voting closes at 20:00 on Sun 5 Feb. You can vote once every hour. The 5th Word N Sound Awards will take place on Sat 11 Feb at the Market Theatre Lab in Newtown. Get all your event info here.