How did you feel when you were announced as the winner of the Athol E Williams Award?
I was overcome with excitement and a sense of pride because I had met and exceeded the goals I set for myself in 2016 and winning the Athol E. Williams Award served as affirmation that all my hard work was not in vain.
If you could ask Uncle Athol anything, what would it be?
I would ask Uncle Athol for the secret to his longevity in the poetry industry because the man is a living legend, I believe.
— Athol Williams (@Athol_Williams) February 15, 2017
Many people feel frustrated when they don’t make it to the Top 5, how did you keep focussed on growing and improving with each month?
The one thing I took to heart when I started slamming on the WNS stage was “leave your ego at the door”, making the top 5 is great, but my main focus for 2016 was to grow as a writer and performer, to push my own boundaries and to absorb and learn as much as I possibly could from all the amazing people I came across every month.
In what ways would you say you have grown as in artist due to the year spent on the slam stage?
I have grown in so many ways as an artist thanks to the platform WNS afforded me. I am more at home on stage, I now appreciate critique rather than dreading it, I have learned to immerse myself so much more in my poetry. Mandisa Vundla, my mentor for the finale, told me that I should not limit myself as a writer, I should use all my senses to build the poem and that is something I have embraced and it keeps pushing me to be better, to find the better metaphors, to meditate on the words so that the work is so much more honest and resonates more with the audience, but most importantly, that it resonates with me as the writer first.
What advice can you share with poets who want to slam but feel intimidated by the stage?
The best advice I could give to anyone who wants to get on a slam stage, do not overthink it, just get on the stage and do it, you will feel so much better for it. And also, if the stage intimidates you, it means you respect it, arrogance has been the downfall of so many poets who were part of the slam last year. To grow, to learn and to flourish, you need to respect the stage and the audience, never lose that sense of intimidation, it will keep you focused.
What did last Season teach you about yourself?
Last season taught me that I possessed a tenacity and perseverance far beyond what I believed I did. The fighter in me was awakened, impossible is nothing now.
What can we expect from you this Saturday?
My showcase will focus on showing my growth as a performer. I will be featuring a young poet who excites me to no end, Siwongiwe Mata, remember that name, she is magic in the making. I will also collaborate with my favourite vocalist in life and a great friend of mine, Sphiwe Spivdeep Phakathi, together we form a duo known as Deep n Floe. So, exciting things should be expected in fact.