Kori Strange breaks down his wordplay

He’s our current Word N Sound Poet Of The Year and this Saturday we’ll be treated to a showcase of wordplay when Kori Strange steps on stage. Mutle Mothibe caught up with him to find out more about this rising star in the local poetry scene.

Mutle: What are your favourite son lyrics and why that particular one? 
From ‘business – Eminem’

‘You ’bout to witness hip-hop
in it’s most purest,
more rawest form,
flow almost flawless,
most hardest,
most honest known artist,
chip off the old block,
but ol’ Doc is {back},
looks like Batman brought his own Robin,
oh God,
Sadam’s got his own Laden,
with his own private plane,
his own pilot,
set to blow college dorm rooms doors off the hinges,
oranges, peach, pears, plums, syringes,
yeah here I come,
I’m inches, away from you,
dear fear none,
hip-hop is in a state of 911, so…’

Where do I even begin? This is the famous song where Eminem rhymes with orange. Everyone knows there’s no rhyme for orange. But those English rules didn’t apply to him so I imagine perhaps they shouldn’t apply to me too.

Mutle: Which of your poems is your favourite and why?
“Viva La Vulva”, because it’s the only poem of mine that practically wrote itself and the freest I’ve ever felt writing anything. Rules definitely did not apply with this one.

Mutle: Take any favourite line from your poems and break down the word play in it and also explain what you are saying in layman’s terms.
‘Behind these bars is a free man…
He makes the riot decisions
His walks of life go in circles
… King of clubs like cards trapped in spokes as he treads by cycles
He treasures his halos
He loves his ex’s and hoes’

The ‘word play’ is in the MULTIPLE devices used in this stanza to give it different meanings.

Rhyme scheme – circles.. Cycles.. Halos.. Hoes..

Pun, Similie, metaphor and imagery – king of clubs like cards..
(he is compared to the king of clubs in a set of cards.. And also is said to be king when he’s at the club)

Extended metaphor and imagery – Like cards trapped in spokes as he treads by cycles (the imagery of playing cards in the spokes of a bicycle going in circles)

Double entendre – free man (black man who was recently freed from slavery/ a man whose actually free)
he treasures his halos
(loves good girls/collects them like money)
he loves his ex’s and hoes (past girlfriends and loose women/ ‘x’ marking the spot for treasure, ‘o’ marking his halo)

Quadruple entendre (possibly quintuple)
– behind these bars
(alcohol bars/ jail bars/ bicycle bars/ literary bars – of the poem/ poet) (literary bars in poetry/hip-hop are things like puns and entendres)

Few more that I don’t know by name.
(hape I took too long answering this question)

Mutle: Do you remember your first poem and what was it about?
TOO EMBARRASSING, NEXT! (something about being a teenager and opening up some happiness…without coke…as in cocaine)
(I tried a bit)

(not cocaine….word play)

Mutle: How long does it take you to write a poem?
Vivalavulva took me 2 hours
Pacman took me a 8 months
Negromancer took me 3 years.

So anything between a few minutes and the rest of time

Mutle: What do you intend to do with your poetry in the next five years?
I wanna release an EP and a book. The rest is a secret.

Mutle: Name two poets from the now generation and two poets from the older generation who’s work you enjoy?
Now: Keitu Tlhako & Thobani Mntambo

Old: Mutle Mothibe and Modise Sekgothe

Mutle: Do you have any stage or pre-performance rituals and would you feel something is missing if you were to perform without a hat?
I have a ritual with Mwamba Chileshe. It’s a secret
*’the hat’ #putSomeRespekOntheHat
Yes. I would be missing. I’m not ‘koristange’ without the hat…I’m just some guy I imagine.

Mutle: Name and describe the one performance where you felt you’d performed your heart out?
Tshwane Speak Out Loud Finale.. #beGreat

Mutle: If you had a spirit animal what do you think it would be?

Mutle: Current poetry stages are very competitive… so much so people end up feeling as though they write for the audience and less about that feels genuine their current space. Do you ever feel that you have that internal conflict?
I used to, but then I told myself not to perform for judges or anyone else but myself and the people who resonate with my poetry. That drives me. It gave me the motto #beGreat


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