PLEASE NOTE:

MyNews24 is a user-generated section of News24.com. The stories here come from users.

 
GakwiMashego
 
Comments: 0
Article views: 284
 
 
Latest Badges:

 
View all GakwiMashego's badges.
 

20 years of poetry - a comparative study

14 July 2014, 14:57

Some years ago I listened to poet/academic Kgafela oa Magogodi as he recited his famous poem Varara from his no-holds-barred installment Thy Condom Come. I listened with intensity as he hammered in every word with the precision of a coffin-maker. I swear if that poem was the Messiah I would have blindly Simoned it to the torture stake. It has an attraction, almost a halo that invites the listener to follow it to Gehenna. Its content makes for a medium that would cross every barrier, including the one dividing the hetero and homosexual orientations.

It opened another front for debate about poetry being a means of communication as opposed to it being a platform of expression. Here lies the rub; because the purpose of communication is to make sense to A and B while expression is just a relief, very often orgasmic nonsense. Poet Mzwakhe Mbuli did quite both with his works.

Remember it was him who conscientised many people to the hardships of apartheid. It was also Mbuli who came with all empty chants of being innocent while he was doing time. As South Africa celebrates twenty years of democracy it makes perfect sense to check the pulse of the country's thinkers. 

 Ten years ago Sandile Ngidi wrote in his birthday tribute to the late poet-laureate Mazisi Kunene that, "Kunene is largely forgotten in South Africa- a country that too often reduces greatness to political heroes. Surely the toyi-toyi was not the only response in creative self-expression when we were oppressed?"

 It was struggle poet, the late Bra Sipho Sepamla, not a politician, who satirised the brutality of apartheid with these lines, "the blues is the shadow of a cop/ dancing the Immorality Act jitterbug/ the blues is the Group Areas Act and all its jive/ the blues is the Bantu Education Act and its improvisations/ the blues is you in me/ I never knew the blues/ until I met you"

 Is today's poetry making any sense or just nonsense? Or are poets so obsessed with their own feelings that they left the role of mass communication to social media, journalists and indeed post liberation toyi-toying unionists? Is poetry really a form of communication or just mere expression? Can EFF's Julius Malema and NUMSA's Irvin Jim make for brilliant poets?

English poet John Donne used a format that flirted with being nonsense while at the same time it made sense. "Death be not proud, though some have called thee/ mighty and dreadful, for thou art not so". This is a confrontational style very few poets today ever come close to emulating. They rather write from an estranged, yet not grieving position than to be caught dead next to their own lines. Donne closed his confrontation, "one short sleep past, we wake eternally/ and death shall be no more; death thou shalt die". Note that he writes we, indicating that he's writing for himself and other people.

Donne's poem obviously shows he was writing for an audience. It is not on a senseless ego trip but on an intellectual-educational journey; for all mankind. Wordsmiths today are infatuated with being abstract since being abstract is associated with being complicated which in some circles is considered a sign of high IQ. Poets today need not be drunks or junkies to be considered genius, but just to shout a lot of nonsense qualifies them. Take actor Masello Motana and her poem Anoracia, "identity oppressed/ BLK girl Dpressed/ Blonde hair obsessed/ Suicide thoughts Xpressed/ Nobody impressed/ with her, her life, her X/ a number 2 B tipXd/ With the rest/ of the less/ seen race yet blessed". Now, this is as trivial as Motana can get. Maybe if this poem could be touched or molded into an object it would look like the hairstyle she used to spot many years ago while she still presented junk on TV. The question is, who is her audience?

 Then peruse to page 69 of Timbila 2002 and let Buhle Khumalo annoy you. "Disgusting/ it stinks, shit stench/ what type of people are they; / people that shit and stay in it," Now, hers is straight talk, the one that leaves a bitter taste in your mouth. Khumalo' speaks for all the people of Orange Farm Extension II in her poem of the same title. It is a love it or hate it report. She's unashamedly a messenger of bad news, the one who does not deserve death. It's also indictive of society, "I wonder if they think normally/ do they have a brain between their so-called ears/ they whine and complain…/ we are deserted". Aluta Continua. And two years ago the government slaughtered miners at Marikana. Trivial hey?

 "Gather ye Rosebuds while ye may, / Old time is still a-flying/ and this same flower that smiles today/ to-morrow will be dying". Another English, Robert Herrick must have been disillusioned by the youth of his era when he wrote, To the Virgins, to make much of time. By its very content the poem must have made sense and contributed to the moral degeneration of Herrick's era. He went on to make sense, "and while ye may, go marry/ for having lost but once your prime/ you may forever tarry"

 Mzi Mahola does not come out to make things better or add a new understanding to the already tense situation. I tend to think he risks bad reviews, "countrymen! / Elect me your president/ and you'll learn/ the art of groveling/ make me your president". This sounds like self-proclamation, but Bra Mzi should know better as he is the author of two poetry anthologies. But do his lines here make any sense? These lines could have been uttered by President Jacob Zuma since his presidency has been characterised by groveling.

 Swedish poet Mauritz Tistelo once asked, "if poetry is about love, jelousy (sic), anger… all our feelings- can we with words and rhythm face our structures and smash them (and in longer distance the capitalistic system) so that we can grow like flowers with ten eyes and fourhundred (sic) hands. What is our interest- to catch and build beautiful jails or deliberate and go into an unknown space?"

 The paradox of poetry's inertia can be best fathomed in its demarcated two streams; commercial-by-prescription and disgruntled-activists. The commercial-by-prescription stream is a narrow peri-elite camp that only accommodates a few poet-politicians and their close associates who can be invited to exclusive functions and award ceremonies to recite for SASOL and powerbrokers. While the disgruntled-activist is populated by mostly outspoken leftists and liberals who don't find ceremony in having a four course meal while people of Limpopo and Eastern Cape still worry about where their next batch of textbooks will come from. How poets, who occupied the same trenches during the liberation war ever allowed money to divide them is itself a paradox. It's no longer about urban and rural, spoken and written but whom do you know. Contemporary poets deliberately ignore the rot in their communities for the benefit of an opportunity to recite about how intelligent the South African president is and how the SABC COO is a model for corporate governance.

 Afrikaans poet Breytenbach, whose 1984 anthology Buffalo Bill arguably influenced Matthew Phosa's Deur die Oog van n Naald had this gagged lines which if they were not out to make him enemies, were out to de/create his poetic Afrikaans, yet English colonised spirit. "I wish I kent the physical basis/ o' a' life's seemin' airs and graces/ it's queer the thochts a kitted cull/ can lowse or splairgin' glit annul". Breytenbach's rant defeats the whole point of using words. If a well-shot picture can speak Arabic to Zulu without uttering a word, then his poem comes gagged. If one had to review Buffalo Bill, he would be forgiven for calling it "a fart in the face of art", which it's not. If he was deliberately throttling the Queen's language then Paul Kruger was smiling in his grave.

 Actress Magi Nozinzi Williams, who most will remember as Khensani's mother in Generations once wrote this simple, straight forward and senseful poem titled Bring Back my Calabash, "I want to seize it -/ I want to claim it -/ it is mine -/ it belongs to me, the children, the mothers and/ the fathers of Africa…/ please bring back my calabash". How much sense can Willians make before she gets her creds? I think this poem deserves an award.

 Jo'burg based poet-activist and now filmmaker Righteous The Common Man (Motho-feela), whose poem Remember me was accused of condoning crime and criminality has this silent lines in They Have Landed, "the landless have landed/ where/ in the land of the landless/ except for those who have stacks/ of cash in their pockets". Common Man's poetry has always had an element of activism, same as this one is indicted of giving support to the Landless People's Movement and the occupation of a white farm as happened in Bredell many years ago.

 Now imagine an icon and veteran like Lesego Rampolokeng going all out to lose his audience. Methinks it is futile to be a blind Pied Piper. "high art low fart you blow me apart/ wiley crows Abrahams' sons of sam/ you pork me ham why're you eating me/ not about melody ill-rhythm/ these maladies diss-harmony". This sounds like gibberish, but New Coin editor Alan Finlay saw beyond the obvious.

 Also interesting is what one publisher said. He says that when he gave an influential book reviewer a copy of Mbongeni Khumalo's anthology Apocrypha to review, the critic said, "let's see if I'll find a book between these pages". Well, that was the shortest verbal obituary for Apocrypha. Or was it its last rites? But Apocrypha made lots of sense.

 "I share my life with you…/1995, I de-sided to be a poet/ that is why I'm telling/ this story to you/ I share my life…/ with you/ 1996, Moulin Rouge International Hotel/ a prostitute broke my virginity/ yes, I share/ my life with you", Khumalo writes in his ongoing journey to the dark end of the cave. He says it's a confession. His confession makes a serious but failed attempt at being abstract.

 "You/ my love, my beginning my end/ I have nothing/ I can offer at this moment/ this you must know…/ I was born of so little/ with ordinary love, / chasing for tomorrow/ my distant future", Ayanda Billie wrote in his painful heartwarming poem, Someday - My Love.

 His whining makes for an excellent read primarily because it speaks to every person who has loved and been loved. They often say that don't cry over a relationship that ended, focus on the future, because "there's always something left to love".

 Zimbabwean author and poet Memory Chirere had this formula to writing poetry. "Poetry comes from calculated, cultivated, measured and allowed 'habits of a poet'. The habits of writing poems (bad or good ones) is human and if you do not have them, there could be a thread you are missing in your fast waning writing career"

 Maybe after all the loss what is left is a poem dying to be written, not just for you but for mankind as well.

Disclaimer: All articles and letters published on MyNews24 have been independently written by members of News24's community. The views of users published on News24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of News24. News24 editors also reserve the right to edit or delete any and all comments received.
 

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
0 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining

Read more from our Users

Submitted by
Merry Martin
Theists, please stop explaining!

SilverBack wrote a series of rebuttal articles recently, and one of the issues he raised was the scene where God instructs Abraham to sacrifice Isaac, only to rescind that instruction at the last minute.  Read more...

235 comments 1763 views
Submitted by
MyNews24 delay

We have been receiving your photos and stories but at the moment we're experiencing technical difficulties and are unable to publish them. But there is a way to get heard. Read more.  Read more...

0 comments 313 views
Submitted by
Luthando Taitai
Let's appreciate them while they ...

There is a tendency of only showing appreciation of someone when they are gone, how many people go to bed everyday deprived this important token. Read more...

1 comments 481 views
Submitted by
Joe Johnson789
Celebrity deaths bring violent cr...

The eyes of the world were on South Africa for about ten months the trial of Oscar Pistorius lasted. It was reported as one of the most watched media events in recent history. Read more...

9 comments 966 views
Submitted by
Manny Obi-Wan Meyer
The pleasure of finding things ou...

I have often wondered how the events of my past have structured my life in the present, my various skills and propensities, my way of reflecting upon the world at large. Read more...

12 comments 694 views
Submitted by
capetowndoll
God is tangible

I am writing this to let every atheist know what happened to me when I was deeply concerned about my mother. Read more...

423 comments 4954 views

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Magical Massinga

Spend 5 nights at the gorgeous Massinga Beach Lodge in Mozambique and only pay for 4 from R13 220 per person sharing. Includes return flights, accommodation, transfers and romantic turndown. Book now!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

Save up to R2100 on electronics! – As seen in the catalogue

Wishing for tech gadgets this festive? Save up to R2100 on hot tech products at kalahari.com. While stocks last. Shop now!

Toys 4 for the price of 3

Buy 4 toys and get the cheapest FREE! Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Seen something you like in our catalogue?

Find the perfect gift and save up to R5000 – As seen on the catalogue. Hurry and shop now!

Mind blowing deals on electronics!

Save up to 35% on electronics. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Hot offer: Up to 50% off irons

Save up to 50% on all Philips irons. While stocks last. Shop now!

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

 

services

E-mail Alerts The latest headlines in your inbox

RSS feeds News delivered really simply.

Mobile News24 on your mobile or PDA

E-mail Newsletters You choose what you want

News24 on your iPhone Get News24 headlines on your iPhone.

SMS Alerts Get breaking news stories via SMS.

Blogs Your opinion on you, me and everyone.

Calais Website keywords automated by OpenCalais.

 
Interactive Advertising Bureau
 
© 2014 24.com. All rights reserved.
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.