A Poem is Never Finished only Abandoned ~Paul Valery
a door always open… remember my first time. my first time at a poetry session. a sunday afternoon poetry session hosted by Timbila at a spot called Yard O’ Ale in Braamfontein. Yard O’Ale is long gone, the building is now part of a school.
Timbila, a Polokwane based organisation, no longer does Johannesburg poetry sessions, as far as I know. those sessions were grown up. i say grown up because they were not about the glitter and the hype of performance but they were about the poetry, the words and the energy focused on the craft.
the poets here were seasoned poets, from Myesha Jenkins to Botsotso Jesters (Allan Kolski Horwitz, Sphiwe Ngwenya and Ike Muila) to Vonani Bila to Mbongeni Khumalo. prolific writers with a great experience. that’s when i learnt there’s more to poetry than just the dead society of white poets.
this was over ten years ago.
when i started Poetry Potion in 2007, i was looking to create a platform that honours past poetry publications like Staffrider, the Classic, Izwi and others which by the time I really fell for poetry were legend.
by then i was already feeling wary of the performance scene. i’m not trying to take away anything form the performance scene because i love it dearly and every thing has it’s place.
performance poetry can make it seem like poetry is only for a certain kind of poet. it can leave poets feeling rejected by poetry when they no longer fit in to the performance space. at least that’s how i felt a few years back when i decided to quit performing.
because of feeling those limitations, it has taken me years to actually consider performing again or even going near a poetry session. but there is growth and more and more i’m finding truly inspired spaces for poets to perform or recite their work.
this past sunday, i finally made it to Jozi House of Poetry. this is a space created by Myesha Jenkins and Philippa Yaa De Villiers. a more mature space of performance and reflection. i felt welcome. after years of not reciting i felt scared even doubtful but when i finally read my poem i felt happy. like i did the first time i shared my poetry all those ears ago.
i was reminded that the door is always open. poetry never shuts its door on its loved ones.
many avoid poetry because they think it’s difficult to understand but for me that’s what freedom is. poetry sets you free to find your own way around poetry.
poetry has always welcomed poets and those trying to be poets. it has an open door policy – which is what Poetry Potion is about.
poetry never forgets you.