Episode 6 of The Word N Sound #PoetryLeague Season 8 is nigh, and this month we have the amazing Anga Mamfanya showcasing on our stage.
Anga Mamfanya is a poet and educator based in Pretoria. He made his performance debut in 2016 at the Tshwane Speak Out Loud youth poetry competition, where he came 2nd place. His work has been longlisted for the 2018 Sol Plaatje EU Poetry Award and he’s released an EP titled 1 A.M. In addition to being a dope poet and writer, Anga is the founder of Blvcksuburbia, a social movement that aims to empower black communities through art.
We had a chat with this ball of fire ahead of his showcase.
KG: You made your performance debut at the Tshwane Speak Out Loud in 2016, and you came second. Tell us how that felt.
AM: Placing 2nd was a huge deal for me, an overwhelming experience to say the least. I was still reeling from all the emotion a couple of days after the finals had taken place. I had caught a few glimpses of the final round of the competition in 2015, which had sparked my interest in competing the following year. And so to have done as well as I did as a newcomer amongst some of the finest poets in Tshwane, completely blew my mind.
KG: Please tell us more about your EP, 1 A.M.
AM: 1 A.M. is a 4 track spoken word EP, which came about after my oldest brother (who is a rapper, among other things) happened to mention me being a ‘dope’ poet to a producer friend of his. I was then invited to his studio to read my poems over some jazzy samples that he had made. 1 A.M. was very organic in the way it was birthed. I didn’t anticipate that it would be a (relatively) complete project. It basically took on a life of its own. The themes and the links between each poem and how they kind of synced with the music were all planned by the universe, I guess. About 2 months after the finals had taken place, the EP was ready and complete with a really cool visual. Fernaux produced and mastered the EP and the visuals were shot by Tope and Co- Produced by Gin Daily. The current bulk of my poems were written on late nights and early hours of the morning. I’ve had many sleepless nights pondering the world around me and 1 A.M. is a reflection of those thoughts.
KG: Why’d you decide to release an EP and not a book?
AM: The EP was experimental and also just easier to create and push and so it just made more sense to run with that. I also wasn’t as big on reading back then so the idea of releasing a book was very daunting. I’ve since developed a healthy interest in reading. I want to be an avid reader before trying to offer myself in writing like that. With that being said, I’m actually working on a collective anthology with some close friends of mine called ‘if flowers’ which has been an interesting journey in itself. Busisiwe Mahlangu and Masai Sepuru are some of the very talented young poets who have agreed to jump on board with this book.
KG: Who are your poetry/literary influences?
AM: Joshua Bennett is the sole reason I started loving and writing poetry. Rudy Francisco, Safia Elhillo, Jasmine Mans, Miles Hodges, Alysia Harris, Shane Koyczan, Mak Manaka, Puno Selesho, Ezekiel Azonwu and Janette..ikz are all poets who indirectly influenced my own writing over the years.
KG: You’re the founder of Blvcksuburbia. Please tell us more about the social movement, when it began, why it began and what you’ve learned since its inception.
AM: Blvcksuburbia started off as a poem I wrote about my short experience living in Soweto. I felt that I needed to turn my words into action and that’s pretty much how the movement started. Right now I’m just taking some time out to rethink what its actual purpose is because it has been very unclear and scattered. All I know right now is that I have very real and strong feelings about using it as a vehicle to achieve some sort of social change or influence. What Ishmael and his team are doing with hear my voice and TSOL really has inspired me to use my poetry beyond just writing and performance. Blvcksuburbia started in 2016 after I hosted my very 1st open mic back home in Tzaneen. It began primarily as a tool I wanted to use to start conversations amongst young people around social issues. What I’ve learned since its inception is PATIENCE. Patience is of utmost importance, especially when quality and longevity are what you’re after.
KG: What do you want you and/or your work to be remembered for?
AM: I don’t quite know as of yet. At this point I’m just doing all I can to express myself in as many different ways as I can. Poetry is still something relatively new to me and I am still trying to carve out a space for myself. Every day I’m learning something new and I’m just building and growing myself. The legacy I want to leave through my work, I guess, will come at a later stage once I’ve figured a few more things out.
KG: What can we expect from your performance?
AM: Yoh…. I’d like to let my poems speak for themselves so I won’t say too much on what to expect. Although, at the very least, I guess ya’ll can just expect to be entertained.