Part of the programme is usually the poetry slam competition, which is what I got the opportunity to attend this last Saturday. This year’s theme was vernacular poetry. In a colourful Fugard Theatre studio, I was part of the audience with my camera and recorder in hand. Ears were wide open, excited to receive food for the soul from the wordsmiths.
Different poetry houses from around Cape Town were represented on the line up by two poets each. Allison-Claire Hoskins and Sipho Kotoba Ndebele were there to represent the InZync Poetry Sessions in Stellenbosch. Representing Lingua Franca from Langa was Sinazo Black-Chick Peter and Siyabonga Wilson. Representing Poetica was Kyle Louw and Shirmoney Rhode.
The one hour thirty minutes duration seemed very short for me. Soul claps were the order of the night as the contestants delivered eloquent quotable after another. After the battle of the six finalists, judges made their decision about the top three to go to the final round.
The high standards brought by the poets must have made it hard for the judges to choose a winner. Besides, how do you judge poetry? The art is based on sharing one’s feelings and the way they personally view things. Then someone now has to say that what one poured from their heart is not good enough.
What the judges were looking for from the poets were stage presence, voice projection, and of course great poetry. The poets all had those traits but, like in any other competition, there had to be one winner.
Sinazo Black Chick, Kyle Louw, and Allison-Claire Hoskins were the finalists. Sinazo kicked it off with her Xhosa love story that had the guys grumbling along. You could practically relate to her sweet and touchy poem, especially if you understood the language. Kyle dissed women clothing brands. Dolce & Gabbana and Louis Vuitton had it hard from Kyle who recited lines like: “Isn’t it funny [how] we try so hard and stand on queues to swipe our cards only to bring plastics home anyway?”
The winner for the evening was Sinazo Peter. She said she had always wanted just to be part of the Open Book Poetry Slam. Winning the competition was a bonus.
“I am sure you have never heard a poet saying they have no words, but right now, that is how I feel,” she said.
An evening teeming with inspiration, fun and emotion thanks to the Cape Town poets who delivered on stage, the Open Book Poetry Slam was a success. I’m looking forward to next year’s installment of the event.
Follow me on Twitter: @ChrisGilili
All images by Sine Ndlela (@Bubu_Ndlela)