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Spoken Word Poetry Blantyre Movement: One year on

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The Spoken Word Poetry Blantyre Movement, an initiative that has been established in order to create a platform for English spoken word poetry in Malawi, clocked one year on Sunday, August 6.

Brian Kalinde, on stage at KwaHaraba Art Gallery & Cafe Brian Kalinde, on stage at KwaHaraba Art Gallery & Cafe

The movement which is said to have been created to grant spoken word poets the ability to share their skills in poetry creation and performance equally seeks to expose as much poetry talent as possible from within Malawi and beyond.

Paul Sezzie, Co- founder and current treasurer of the movement said the movement wanted to build an audience for poets who recite or perform poetry in English, where the general observation is that poets reciting in vernacular have already established their audience that is not very willing to accept those reciting in English.

“Later on, we hope to merge the audiences and have poets originating from both vernacular and English tradition reciting on one stage,” explained Sezzie.

Sezzie added that in just a year, the movement has so far been productive, managing to bring on stage at Kwaharaba Art Gallery and Café, poets from around Blantyre, across Malawi, South Africa, Germany and the Bahamas.

Added the acting treasurer: “we have had our own legends, Q Malawezi and Marumbo Sichinga from the Living Room poetry space in Lilongwe, Xholisa from South Africa, Tolle from Germany and the legendary Obediah Michael Smith from the Bahamas under one year. We have also been lucky to have had readings from the literary greats like Alfred Msadala.”

According to Co- founder, Sezzie, the movement seems to have caught the eye of different stakeholders as they were requested to train students in poetry at St. Andrews International High School in Blantyre, succeeding in training over 300 students from years 7 to 11.

The movement was equally involved with Age Africa to train Secondary School girls from different schools during their annual retreat in Blantyre where 75 girls were trained in poetry creation and performance, most of which are now being hired on individual basis to perform.

Apart from according poets space to express themselves to the public and to contribute to the development of their country through spoken word, the movemement encourages poets to act upon the issues they address through their works and not simply talk about them.

“ If we are against drug and substance abuse, we should be exemplary, if we are against the deplorable standards of education we should first ask ourselves what role we are playing,” Sezzie told MBC.

The movement is currently involved in a Nyali Iwale Pa Tunga Project, a project that aimed at raising about K3 million inorder to source 200 solar lamps which will sustain all teachers and learners in Standard 7 and 8 at Thunga Primary School in Thyolo. The lamps are said to assist in lesson planning and increase study time for pupils.

“We cannot just write poems about blackouts or sneer at the fact that 90% of Malawians do not access electricity, we must equally do something about it,” concluded Sezzie.




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