Every story is valid, it’s our responsibility to tell them – Linda Masilela

Why did you decide to join the Word N Sound Poetry League this season and did it meet your expectations?
At first, I wasn’t that keen on slamming this year because I had done it last year and wanted to take a break and focus on school. But on the morning of the first slam, I got a call from Soetry and convinced me to come through. I did that and the rest is history. But as the season progressed I realised that I could do more with this, I could write and perform my work on the biggest platform.

It had far exceeded my expectations. Personally, and of course I am biased, this season we have seen growth in the quality of work produced on stage. We have seen teenagers killing the mic, new poets breaking into the scene, some memorable performances and most importantly a safe space for all kinds of poetry.

How would you describe your journey on the Word N Sound stage this year?

It’s been a marathon. A test of character. At times the poems didn’t come through but most of the time it was amazing. In addition to all the blood, sweat and tears this journey has allowed me to make new friends and beyond the stage we show up for one another. That’s epic on its own.

Which two of your performances have stood out for you and why?
The poems that stood out for me didn’t even make it to the top five, crazy! It was for the month of June I think. I performed a poem about me existing in two spaces (hospitals and poetry stages) that poem was personal because at that point I was writing from a space of burn out and both these spaces offered limited help. But performing that was somehow therapeutic.

The second one was poem performed in August its called Retrograde Mercury. I love that piece because it’s super ambitious. I mean I tried telling a story backward. That technique was super hard to pull. But later on I’ll visit that poem and do some editing, it deserves some justice. But all in all I was brave I wrote and performed it.

What has been the biggest challenge you have had to overcome?
Trusting myself. Confidence is something else. But at times I undermine my work, I do sleep on myself. But it’s because of the deep-seated insecurities. But I’m glad the stage allowed me to be me and address those issues.

The Poetry League can at times be tough, who has helped you along the journey and kept you coming back each month?
The list is long. The Squad held me down (Dineo, Siya, Mutondi and Shawty). My beautiful sister (Onica Masilela), Wits Poets Corner, Tshepo Molefe, Bongani, Soetry, Mj, Mukundi, Melissa and lastly, Linda Masilela.

Going into the finale, who would you say is your toughest competitor and why?
This is a tough one. I think all poets are great. All of them.

What have you learnt from the other competitors this season?
I’ve learned that every story is valid and it’s our responsibility as poets to tell those stories. It is more than an exercise in vocabulary but a transcription of feelings. The one thing I liked about this season is how poets where able to press certain keys in order to articulate a certain emotion. The poets did that very well.

Who has been your favourite poet to watch this season?
Let me mention some few individuals. Soetry had amazing metaphors, his performances always left me in awe. Masai is such an amazing writer, he literally writes for gods. Clear is so creative. Always cooking something in the kitchen. Mjele has the presence, the voice and the words. There is also Jonathan who blew me away with every performance. Keneilwe and how she merges multiple stories and later show you that all these things exist in one reality. Sabelo, Melissa, Zan, Zandile, Belita, Bugsy, Lyriq, Versy, Menzi, Noah, Yonela, the list is endless. This season has been nothing short of bliss.

Season 8 of the Poetry League will come to an end on Sat 6 Oct at the finale. Find out more about the event and get your tickets here. The 8th Word N Sound International Youth Poetry Festival runs from 3 – 7 Oct 20018, find out more here.

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