“Freedom? You’re asking me about freedom? I can tell you about what freedom isn’t…”
…Assata Shakur speaks at the end of the song that Common dedicated to her Song for Assata.
What do we know about what freedom is?
We sure know what it isn’t. This is the challenge I set out for my fellow poets. And I suppose while anticipating what kind of poems would come out of poets ruminating on freedom, I figured what we know of freedom is only what we can dream of. Out of knowing what freedom isn’t and from glimpsing, through various struggles for freedom around the world, we may begin to imagine what freedom is.
But is freedom one thing? No, Maya Angelou spoke a freedom in Still I Rise when she wrote,
“You may shoot me with your words,
You may cut me with your eyes,
You may kill me with your hatefulness,
But still, like air, I’ll rise.”
And Sipho Sepamla wrote,
“At the dawn of another day
some people were trudging frantic
The poem, At the Dawn of Another Day, goes on capturing the battle against the unfreedom that the youth of ‘76 exploded against.
Even Basho, expressed a freedom that many of us fear in this haiku
“Sick on my journey,
only my dreams will wander
these desolate moors”
So in this edition, the poets I interviewed, the poems published all discuss, explore freedom in an interesting way. Even just the act of writing and perform is a kind of freedom that some can’t enjoy. I profiled, Naledi “Deigh Poetic” Raba, a young poet from Cape Town who won the 2013 Drama For Life Lover + Another. Naledi’s gentle yet confrontational poetry explores identity, love, humanity through the gender and sexuality lens.
Also featured is Vuyelwa Maluleke recently shortlisted for the second University of Brunel African Poetry Prize. She talks about how poetry lets her take control of the story that she wants to tell.
And then award winning poet, David Maahlamela discusses the politics of language and how they impact on culture an the freedom of expressing ones cultural identity.
The poems featured here, respond to the theme of Poems for Freedom in interesting and diverse ways. I hope that you enjoy them as I have. We have written, now you reader, take control of this story.
this article was published in our print quarterly number six, Poems For Freedom.
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