Call to revive ‘dying’ poetry scene
PLAYERS in the poetry sector have called for more platforms for poets to showcase their talent amid fears the art form is in decline.
In separate interviews with the Weekender this week, Poetry Farm founder Peter Mahase, Poetry is Alive founder Sheila Khala and prominent poet Mpho Sefali said they were “very few” forums left for budding poets to perform and develop their craft.
According to Mahase, his relinquishing the position of director at Poetry Farm in May 2014 resulted in the stagnation of the movement.
“I stepped down from Poetry Farm to give others the opportunity to take the group forward while I pursued other interests. Unfortunately, those who took over also started focusing on personal issues to the detriment of the poetry,” he said.
“As a result, budding poets in the movement became disillusioned because they did not have anyone to give them direction.”
Mahase said the art form could regain its momentum if more platforms were created for poets to perform.
“I believe poetry can reclaim its lost glory if we could have more platforms such as we used to have previously. It is a pity that promoters are not willing to give poets a platform to perform,” he said.
Poetry is Alive founder Sheila Khala echoed similar sentiments, saying poetry was a conduit to relay various important messages to the people.
“Poetry is a gift from God. I believe poetry can be relayed through various means to make a positive impact on society. Live shows only cater for revelers and yet there are so many people in hospitals and prisons who need the spoken word,” she said.
“My wish is for budding poets to think beyond the microphone and transform from just being entertainers to artists who make a positive impact on society through poetry.”
Khala added that she was currently working on two books, The Truth and Psalms and Songs of Sheila Celeste as well as helping other writers through her Sheila The Eagle Productions publishing house.
On her part, Sefali conceded that the local poetry scene had lost its momentum.
“While poetry is alive and well, as evidenced by the shows at local restaurants such as Victory and Cloud Café, what has certainly deteriorated is the hype,” she said.
“The movements that were once popular a few years ago have fallen by the wayside. The mentorship programs and platforms catering for young people have also disappeared and those are some of the things that need to be revived. However, I am working with other poets to form a movement which will reclaim our legacy.
Sefali added: “My plan was to visit different schools around town to inspire kids to love poetry but due to other commitments I will not be able to go to most of them, I went to Maseru Preparatory School last week and it was great.”