Friday, February 15, 2008

Who's Hustling Right? Interview with Nicole from Verses

By Jermaine Stallenberg

In our second edition of “Who’s Hustling Right?” we cast a spotlight on an inspiring Cape Town-based lady whose poetry evenings have magnetized and brought together CT’s creative fraternity. Nicole, founder of Verses, is a driven woman whose sole objective is to illuminate the talent of cultural expressionists i.e. poets, MCees & singers. Encore tracked her down and got insight into the mind and spirit of this young impresario.

What's fresh Nicole? Well done and a huge congratulations from the
Encore family on Verses 4 year anniversary. Is there anything in particular that this 4th year anniversary makes you think of saying to the readers, some of whom have loyal patriots of your movement?

Thank you! It seems that these four years have passed in the blink
of an eye, a clearing of a throat, a verse of a poem. More than 1500
artists have shared this platform and more than 7000 audience members
have been inspired by Verses during these 4 years. What can I say...My
baby has grown and I feel like a proud mother!!

What was the initial reason behind Verses when you kicked it off four years ago, and what motivated you to pursue it?

I, myself, am first a spoken word artist and then, the organizer of
Verses. Four years ago there were just no consistent platforms for
spoken word artists to gather to express themselves, so I decided to
create one, and so Verses was born. The reason I decided to combine
spoken word with a live music element, is because I've always felt that
there is a natural cross over between lyric writing and poetry. I also
knew that for the event to be sustainable, the audience needed some

What has kept you going for four years and what challenges have met along the road?
Eish...passion, passion, passion! My biggest challenge so far...I have a
very demanding 9 to 5, doing marketing for Cape Town Tourism and I am a
single mother of a beautiful 8 year old daughter and in the beginning,
it was really hard trying to juggle the organizing and marketing of the
event, my 9 to 5, mothering and finding the time to just breathe. Now,
I've learnt that it's entirely possible to do it all...just don't forget
to breathe!!

What's been your biggest achievement with Verses thus far?

There is no single event that stands out in my mind and I think that's
the beauty of Verses. Every single session has at least one performance
that has you going...Oh my...!!! And I've always maintained, both with
my performances and with Verses, that if it touches just one person in
the audience, or in the case of Verses, also makes the difference to one
person stepping up to that mic...I have done what I set out to do!

I attended your 4th year anniversary show at Zula and you featured a guy called Omekongo wa Dibinga, who in my opinion was quite a refreshing addition to the usual Verses bunny-chow. I am compelled to hear your take on his strong words about there being a scarcity of real 'poets'. Did you at that point feel that he was referring to Mzansi poets including yourself?

Verses bunny-chow...hmmm?! Anyway...that piece BLEW ME AWAY! It is
everything I have always wanted to say at the beginning of every Verses
Session! I definitely did not take it personally and am well aware that
the tendency towards the type of 'poetry' he was condemning is
universal! There is nothing worse than someone behind the mic who
strings together phrases that make no sense in the hope that they will
sound profound!

Which poet would you currently regard as the hottest property in
Cape Town?

There is no one poet that I can single out, probably because
poetry/spoken word is so subjective. However, there are a couple of
names who are consistently growing their craft...including Jitsvinger,
Perspektif, J7 and Za.

What is your opinion on the current state of poetry locally and abroad? And do you think poets now command the same respect as MCees?

Oooh...don't get me started on this whole debate! Ok, for the 1st part
of your question...poets internationally definitely have many more
opportunities for making a living through their craft than we do in SA.
If we take out the making money thing and focus on just pure talent and
tenacity...SA is right up there with the best of them and our poets are
in hot demand in the international arena.

What is your take on the music industry and how can poetry become a
a notable contributor to Mzansi's stifled music 'biz'?

Poetry can only really become a contributor when stores are actually
willing to take the risk and stock it! I released a spoken word album
last year where most of the tracks are spoken word and music, but none
of the music stores wanna stock it...because they don't understand it!
So, just like with so many other things, there needs to be education,
education, education aimed at the broader public who will then create
the demand and stores will have to stock our stuff!

What are your plans for the next years of your bizzy calendar?

I like to keep things hush hush, building anticipation, but I will whisper that plans are afoot to take Verses national...

Sister, thank you very much for taking time to chat to us, we look forward to hearing a lot more provoking, spirit-replenishing poetry in 2008. Is there perhaps a verse that you can leave the Encore fam with?

Here's an excerpt from one of my pieces...

The beginning of love is like time wearing slip slops and dragging its
heels along the sand/
To the sounds of Herbie Hancock, The Blue Note Bands and definitely some
Sun-kissed skin waiting in anticipation for the loving to begin/
Even with love in other seasons you still feel the flow, the glow of
blood warming skin against skin/
Mmmm...nothing beats the beginning of love

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I feel Nicole and that other bra on the "so-called poets" just splicing big words together for a nonsensical watered down version of poetry. Thanks Encore for including verse in your mag! arsum