Interview with NONSTIE I.AM.POETRY

When and how did poetry become your passion and exert of artistic expression? (History behind the music/artifice.)
I was studying English (doing Robert Frost’s poetry which I fell absolutely inlove with) when ‘iampoetry’ was birthed, 4 years ago. It was not so pleasant but the outcome was o of course beautiful. It was when I became overwhelmed by so much negative emotion that I just picked up my maths book, flipped to the back page and angered on paper. It was that simple but very angry. And I was much younger you know still looking for my identity, so finding something I could use to vent and identify my being with was a total breakthrough for me. It was only with time that I learnt to channel negative energy into creative composition and really understand what and how much poetry meant to my existence.

How are you feeling this year, any big plans for 2009?
Definitely excited about my self-published book.
It’s been a long journey but it’s been worth the wait. Funny thing I just received the first copy today and ohh gosh the beauty of that poetic baby of mine (giggles). It’s a weird feeling though…seeing the past 3years of your life on paper all together. It hits you, makes you realize how far you have actually come. In this now world we often forget to stop and just soak in our efforts, you know enjoy the fruits of our labour. Well today was that day for me…even though the still moments were disturbed by the numerous phone calls (I was at work lol)

Could you talk a little more about your poetry?
I dreaded this question because you can imagine it’s the first question I get every time I meet people and I have not once come up with a good answer –if there is such a thing (giggles) other than my poetry is my feelings, as if that’s not the obvious lol. On a serious and more thought out note my poetry I think is almost like a diary meant to be read. So I write about me but you too can relate in your own personal context. So it’s pretty much about my moments of emotional imbalance i.e very happy/very sad/very inlove etc. I am stirred when the equilibrium is disturbed, that’s what brings about the creativity and the surge. It’s my beautiful form of release if you must. I think the feel of my poems varies with each one, sometimes very chic, sometimes very intellectual, sometimes very imposing…everyday is a different day.

So what is the motivation behind your whole movement?
To start with I was simply trying to heal my own wounds, heal my soul and find myself. It was a somewhat selfish act to begin with because it was all about getting myself straight first, which was necessary before I ventured out into the world. And then with time, through poetic growth…that just wasn’t enough anymore…I knew I had a destiny to fulfil. My dream had always been to make a difference, to inspire somehow. It took me a while to realize that I was destined to do this with the art of words, the art of poetry, and in turn my collection of poetry (book) POETIC ENSEMBLE evolved. I know that when I’m alone with my words dancing on the white A4 sheet, when I’m alone breaking the virginity of each white page by ball point, when I’m alone while the parched sheets gently suck the black blood… I’m really not alone. Because somewhere out there someone can relate to my feelings and there is sense of reassurance that comes with realizing its not just you going through such and such… and so it only feels right to share my heart with others because we are really not as alone as we think.

Who are some people you would like to work with?
I wouldn’t really want to work with any other poets simply because I can’t write in front of people and besides, the pressure of writing specifically to collaborate with someone else’s work will completely throw me off. But there’s definitely some poets I would like to meet and have long conversations with. I talk a lot and ask so many questions we would need days! The first would be Mayda De Valle (you might have seen her on Def Jam Poetry), whenever I need inspiration I turn to her perfomances and Lebo Mashile (a South African poet to say the very least). I actually have met and spoke to her. Up to this day no one has shaken my soul that much poetically. I even wrote a poem about her…yes she is that amazing!

What are your thoughts about the relationship between poetry and Hip Hop?
There is definitely a clear relationship there. I’m talking real hip hop though not the get rich quickhip hop we have nowadays. Hip hop and poetry share intellect, personal emotions, the audience, the concept of a hidden meaning, the passion behind the art, the habit of breaking boundaries, and most importantly the power to unite people because they are both universal.

How is the Internet changing your craft?
In terms of actually writing it, not much because I still prefer pen on paper as opposed to fingers on keyboard but in terms of sharing it, it doesn’t change my craft per say but definitely allows me to reach out to a lot more people via social sites etc and also being able to self publish via the web, now that’s revolutionary! I would say now the internet plays a great deal in getting my name and word out even if it’s as simple as an email.

Are you down with the whole twitter thing? How is this an important outlet for you and others?
I’m not even on twitter. No offence but I think I have better things to do than literally follow people’s daily or even hourly updates! Once you know then what?
Facebook is more than enough for me. Twitter and all social sites really are such an easy way to fall into this trap of exposing your entire life…I’d rather not thanks. I think blogs are the way forward! (I’m yet to start one though lol)

Who are some people you want to be interacting with this year?
Not anyone in particular. But this year I am looking to give back. I want to do a bit of child and youth care work as a volunteer in Africa, inspire underprivileged kids… give them hope. I have wanted to do that since I could think. I am ready now. Also I am looking to get into the performance scene…I write a lot but don’t perform as much so I want to challenge myself as a poet and tap into that.

Could you talk about any long-term goals you have in mind?
Something involving working with children through the arts, definitely…

Do you feel like what you are doing is important and in what way beneficial to you sector?
Poetry has become my total existence and without it Lord knows how and where I would be so yes it’s definitely important. It has helped me evolve into a better person, I have found inner peace and let go of all the strongholds that once chained my freedom. I found my identity and destiny…once you have that you have everything.

When you started out did you think it would be a serious business?
Believe me I had no clue! I did always ask myself though if I had a passion or talent, I would worry about not having one a lot. But God had a serious plan… I wasn’t ready yet till that period of heavy emotion (that would have been dangerous to my inner self had poetry not come along). I never called myself a poet until a while later, my first poems were ridiculous gosh! They were cute like ‘aww she is begging it’ but hey from a girl that had hated poetry until 6 form to actually writing one that was huge for me lol. Even when I got better I never imagined performing let alone publishing a book. It’s all happened so quick yet very smooth too… I’m that kind of person that takes it one step at a time so it doesn’t get to my head. What’s most weird for me is I was a girl that did not even care about poetry whatsoever like there were no clues in any stages of my life to say that I would be this person that lives on poetic blood now. From nothing to something so dominant – its awesome!

How do you separate yourself from others?
I do not write to please others, get the most praise or to seek validation from the world; my work is very raw, very real and not butter-coated. I write in response to the emotional surge inside of me and not just because I can – it’s a healing process for me. And just because I am not known on a large scale, doesn’t make me any less of a poet. Many have told me that my humility and lack of recognition of how much potential I have is what sets me aside from others.

Where is your Favorite place to create art?
In my room, in bed when all is still and quiet… when the world is asleep

The art and party scene have come together in recent years, why do you think this has happened?
To use an example, you have poets and you have poet lovers. The merge of the art and party scene have been great for both participants because our work is now more accessible to a wider audience. Because I think sometimes we arts people exclude ourselves from the world. So this merge allows a wider audience to understand and appreciate what we do because of the exposure…the awkward gap has been bridged. The world wanted to hear us, find us and feel us…it just did not know where to find us until now.

How do you describe your poetry to people?
Raw and Pure.

What have you stolen/learned from another artist lately?
When perfoming, perform a piece you really feel (like a song) so that it just flows out of you naturally…effortlessly

Must art have a relationship to the rest of the world?
It must have a relationship with the owner first before it can reach out to the world. Focus on yourself and what your art does for you, the rest follows. But do allow yourself to be inspired by the world always

Describe who a fan of your poetry is:
I have many lol …. But my favourite one is my mother :o)

Describe your art as if we were deaf and dumb?
(Hand Gesture); points at eyes, self and heart … “See My Heart”

Poet’s message:

Peace (within the self)
Passion (for all that surrounds your existence)
(will bring) Progress

My book now available from
Love Nontsie I-amPoetry