Performing Poetry

One could just as well place "the performing poets" in the fold of performing arts, or under the heading literature. And if the poetry is set to music, there is only a short step to the rich music genre. Yet there are also reasons for according it a place as a genre in its own right.

Poetry, which is written to be performed clearly is rooted in the oral culture. Chirikure Chirikure tells us how his own poetry, written in the free verse typical of both Shona and Ndebele, was not accepted in his school, because it did not follow British standards.

Albert Nyathi derives his poetry from traditional praise poetry, but he now practices fusion between this and inspiration from elsewhere.

Performing poetry is potentially explosive as a genre for exhortation and critique, being both explicit and performed for a usually small audience listening with attention. All art is communication, but nowhere is this so obvious as here. Both interviews show vividly how the intention of the performer and factual history of a performance is one thing, the interpretation by those who listen can often be something else.

Interviews with:

Chirikure, Chirikure

Nyathi, Albert

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