Poetry evokes many feelings, sometimes heart-warming and soothing, at times painful and melancholic, in the hearts of many. For many poetry enthusiasts, poetry is magical because it holds a certain degree of intimacy that keeps them captivated and enthralled.
Many of us remember those intimate moments during a poetry session when there is so much intensity of emotion that the mind seems to drift away and gives way to the sub-conscious.
When the outside world just ceases to exist and is shut out, leaving you in an intimate and intense encounter with the beauty that is poetry.
That is what many experienced on Wednesday night at the first ever annual Gaborone International Music Festival (GIMC). The festival got off to an incredible start with a well-attended poetry session at Botswana Craft. Sunday Standard Lifestyle was a bit sceptical about whether an outdoor poetry session would be successful.
But it turned out perfectly. The moderately cool evening breeze, the round table set up, and the dim lighting all conspired to arouse a feeling of intimacy among the audience. Benson Phuthego, himself a renowned poet, was the MC for the night and he was the perfect host.
As for the poets, you just had to be there to appreciate the talents of TJ Dema, Mandisa Mabuthoe, Boleng Bolokwe, Leungo, Poet Circle and others. If you weren’t there, don’t despair because all is not lost. Below, Lifestyle shares literary snippets of some of the poems recited on that oh so beautiful night.
TJ Dema: Neon Poem
(After Amiri Baraka’s Black Art, Published in her book ‘Mandible’)
Poems are bullshit, unless they teach.
Poems serve no purpose, unless they reach the audience they are written for, the ears they are meant for.
You could write the perfect love poem, tell us how you teased her till she let you touch her, but if she cannot remember you, then, sir, your poetry didn’t do what it was supposed to.
I’ve heard war poems that hid behind fancy syllables and metaphors, quietly comfortable with the thought of coming to blows over why they should fight for anything at all.
Once I wrote a hope poem, one of those there is a future type poems, but it never spoke till what few wishes we had left broke.
I’ve even seen live poems that wait till the audience is gone, then begin humming softly as a song, murdering any sense of rhythm they might have had at all.
I’m thinking of a it’s too late poem.
I’ll build it up till it sounds like metal bats against tin cans, loud and outrageous, still too little too late.
We want fast poems that can out race us, out face us, maybe even take us to where we’ve never been, quick as sin.
A look at me poem that screams out to the world
Open up your eyes and see, you can t even speak your mind, yet you still believe that you, and you, and we are free from something or someone.
Anyone give me a neon poem:
A black, red, white, yellow, purple, pink even lime poem, that will teach all other wannabe poems how to grow up and become real type poems,
Because poems are bullshit unless they teach;
They serve absolutely no purpose unless they reach someone
Mandisa Mabuthoe: Dreaming
Bring the blues to me in a raspy voice, riding on a golden horn or tearing through my wildest dreams,
I’ll hear Coltrane telling Miles to breathe, and I will breathe on his behalf, in some kind of symphony that feels like home.
Dreaming is a gift for me
Tell my fortune from the sweetness in my lemon tea, and then repossess the promise morning made to me,
I wouldn’t mind.
I’ve not philosophised the colour of my honey coated haven,
I’ve learned to wash my paint brushes and watch them grow, watch them wade inside my madness in my rush to beat the traffic before sunset, seeking peace because I ache for it.
They know that dreaming is a gift for me.
I sing the truth from ancient harmonies because learning can be hard,
I only listen when the record skips,
I hear the anthems that aren’t written yet, because sometimes I’m a rebel,
Burning boundaries to build extraordinary fires round the contexts of my common sense,
Where change is constant and hypnotic, sweeps the grime off all the shiny things so this remains a thrill for me,
No fear, no dirt on my hands,
But not too aesthetic to touch or to change anything,
Piece by piece in swift conversation I sow and reap and mow the lawn,
Then gather enough to feed the chickens and keep them warm,
Then package then in basic pastels that ease my soul, coz dreaming is a gift for me.
Don’t say too much shimmer lines this masterpiece,
When golden things are tangible,
I spend my wisdom seeking more,
Careful not to pull too hard the strings that keep the skin tight on my favourite drum,
While dreaming saves a seat for me at the orchestra my seed will lead.
So swing those blues my way, in a raspy voice, riding on a golden horn, or strolling through my mildest dream,
I’ll give them back to you as khum bah yas your children hum, while you have picnics with them underneath the sun.