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Visit the active LitNet platform at www.litnet.co.za


 
Nuwe skryfwerk | New writing > Poësie | Poetry > English > Published poets

Before poetry was hip


Khanyisile Magubane - 2011-04-26

Before poetry was hip
we were not gracing stages,
we were going through stages
scribbling on pages
trying to understand these words
that haunted our minds.

Before poetry was hip,
sometimes, sometimes we were too scared
to tell people we were poets,
we did not trust in these words.

Before poetry was hip
we were told to focus on science and accounting,
because words don’t put food on the table.
Oh, but they do give peace of mind!

Before poetry was hip
we were an underground people
exchanging words and phrases
stored in files tearing away at the punched holes.

Before poetry was hip
we understood words before we understood love
and the meaning of some of these words.
Sometimes we cut out words and phrases from magazines
and pasted them next to our own written words and
drew funny pictures next to the poems.
Sometimes it was a love poem at 14 – puppy love:
“I love you like the fish loves water, needs water.”
“You are to me what the sun is to a sunflower.”

Before poetry was hip,
sometimes, sometimes we were too scared
to tell people we were wordsmiths,
we did not trust these words.

Before poetry was hip
we could not share these words publicly on a platform.
Voices of criticism are now ears eager to listen –
now we can take ourselves seriously,
now we can just be, just be, just be.
Hip is not bad, indeed hip is not bad.

But long after poetry has lost its shine, has lost its glamour,
we will still be an underground people,
exchanging words and phrases in motions similar to mazes;
but now, we will trust these words,
love these words.

From Basadzi Voices (2006). Rose Mokhosi (ed). University of KwaZulu-Natal.