Mandi Vundla: The Poetician
Tell us a little bit about how you go into writing poetry and what inspired you to be a poet?
I remember how I’d mix and match words to suite a particular rhyme scheme. I just enjoyed playing with words at a time when I never even understood their power the only thing I knew was I felt better every time I wrote. I performed a piece at a community theatre I was a part of and next thing I know, I’m asked to write poems for plays. That really played a major role in shaping me as a poet
Who are some of the authors and books that have influenced you the most personally and why?
Honestly, I was never the conscious individual when it came to books until recently and the most influential book I’ve read is the one I’m reading now “How can man die better”- the life of Robert Mangaliso Sobukwe. It has really plucked the wool from over my eyes; it motivates any love brewing in my soul for AFRICA and her children. Slowly but surely I am unlearning the sugar coated history we have been fed one day at a time. His biography reminds me of how powerful we are as individuals. “We are the ones we have been waiting for,” unknown
You are a very prolific performer why do you perform so often?
That’s like me asking, why do you eat so often? Poetry is a lifestyle, it’s the one craft I’ve mastered on the streets
where my worst performance has inspired my greatest piece. I am in my most humble and honest phase when I write to myself. No one or thing on this earth can ever bring me closer to myself than poetry. Performing a piece, simply means I have accepted whatever it is that I am writing about and that I finally understand it.
Some of your poetry touches on very sensitive subject matter and imagery, how do you go about tackling such subjects?
I’m a visual writer, I see it before I write it and I write what I see and how I see it. If it hurts or touches me enough, it’s a matter for poetry to deal with. I simply dissect it the way I experience it leaving no emotion unturned
Are you ever afraid of alienating audience member that might not share the same opinions as you through your poetry?
NEVER-Remember, this is my story
You are part of the top 10 at Word N Sound this year, tell us what this means to you personally as a writer?
As a writer, it means my scars over the past months were not in vain. There is still plenty to learn , but I understand my craft better and I’m willing to go to great lengths to see it through, whatever impediments I may encounter
Why did you choose to enter the slam this year?
ya neh initially I thought Mandi you can kick ass, let’s do this. It was just about ego, my mmhhh is bigger than yours so why not? Little did I know, there are dynamics and I lost myself in competition only to find myself again. I continued to slam this year to challenge myself to grow it was as though I just woke up and realized the importance of poetry in my life and suddenly, I wanted nothing more than to master it. The WNS platform is cut throat, so I knew if I could crack it on this stage then I could handle any platform
As a poet I am sure many strange things have happened to you, tell us a little bit about some of the experiences you have had as performer?
WOW, uuhhm, I featured a beatboxer in my poem and he was wack and I was no better I wanted to die on stage, like literally I was hoping the floor would crack open and swallow the entire audience during my performance then bring them up again when I’m done (laughs)
Your have performed with a lot of heavyweights within the poetry circle, tell us about how you as an emerging poet claim your space and distinguish yourself from all of them?
Claim my space? wow (laughs) I practically get on stage and pretend like I’m the only one that exists. I really don’t worry about other performers, I don’t care who you are when it’s my turn I do me. I have this unique energy I can’t explain, you’d have to be there to understand.
Writing and performing are obviously two different platforms how do you go about writing work that is able to work well on stage?
Performance for me is the tangible art of writing the page simply extends onto the stage where any poems
stored in memory are good to go. All my poems have their own voice, I just perform the loudest ones
Tell us about your writing style, what informs it?
Shoooo. The subjects I feel strongly about develop their own rhythm in my head. I may not even desire to pursue the topic but it naturally pursues me. I just let the rhythm guide me. I don’t determine my writing patterns, they choose me. I succumb
As a young writer and performer what role do you think poetry has in the South African socio political context?
Our socio-political status is deteriorating by the day, from education to poverty to unemployment, health facilities, crime and violence, etc. We’re undergoing a period of desperation. Poetry is an alarm system triggered by ignorance it has the ability to broaden perspectives and open minds and influence the masses to unlearn and openly rebuke what is unjust. We live amidst a hopeless society of people that are content with the current system, because they don’t know that there is a possibility for better or that they deserve better, so they have endorsed whatever detrimental future they have in the hands of the government. Poetry is a tool to awaken people from slumber. We just have to get them to listen
What are some of the projects and initiatives you are working on for the future?
POETICIANS-This year was a clustered year for all the members, we were focused on ourselves and growing individually but definitely next year, Poeticians is on the move and a Poefficient Compilation of my work