By Kalungi Kabuye
The sound system didn’t work well, so they did without it. And the inside of the Margaret Trowell School of Fine art gallery was small and hot.
So the show was moved to the outside. But all that just made the Echo Minds poets show just how they are determined to fight against adversity and patriarchy.
So lousy sound and a cramped place were not going to stop them, and we’re glad it didn’t.
Spoken word poetry is slowly but surely taking its rightful place among performing artists, and these eight women showed us why.
The show was titled Unchained, and it took place on International Women’s Day, after the launch of the Njabala Foundation’s eight-women exhibition This is Not How. But it was not the traditional ‘men bashing’ that many of us expected. Instead, they took us on a journey of how women actually feel in this male-dominated world.
There was Pinkie, and Agatha; then there was Brandy and Aimar. Next was Afroetry, Desiteny and the passionate Ray-Lioness. There was also a guest poet, soft spoken Mcnrietta.
These were powerful performances, and they came on relentlessly one after another, fast and furious. We saw angry women, and strong women. There were docile women, and combative women. There were also tired women, sad women, and joyful women. But they were all determined women.
There were no introductions (those came at the end when it had fallen dark), and the traditional ‘this poem is named this and I wrote for that one’ was not there. The women just came out and did their thing, and then walked off.
Maybe it would have been preferable to read and study each poem before it was performed, or even afterwards; but then that would have spoiled the ‘I’m talking to you so listen’ approach that worked very well. It was like sitting with this group of women, and each one of them talks to you about what’s on her heart. You don’t stop them and ask to study what they are saying.
And the fact that they didn’t use any sound system made it more intimate, and one can imagine siting around a bonfire, and listen to the Echo Minds poets do their thing. This was my first time to watch a spoken word poetry show, and it was gratifying that it was more spoken than performed, which has always been a pet beef of mine. I can’t wait for their next show.