EL poet’s healing use of spoken word reaches US
An East London-born poet is breaking international borders with her spoken word performances.
Zizipho Bam has been named as one of the four beneficiaries across the country to receive the Hear My Voice Mobility Fund.
The fund encourages international literary festivals and events to book South African poets by covering up to 50% of the fees incurred when booking local talent.
Due to the outbreak of the coronavirus, which brought a halt to live performances in the creative industry, Bam used the virtual space to perform on a Washington DC based platform called Busboys and Poets last month.
The Hear My Voice mobility fund has opened up an opportunity that hasn't been around for poets and spoken word artists
“The Hear My Voice mobility fund has opened up an opportunity that hasn't been around for poets and spoken word artists. It has promoted international exposure for South African poets,” Bam said.
Bam has taken her poetry across the country, performing from Pietermaritzburg to Johannesburg's Market Theatre.
Bam said themes in her poetry include the spoken word, mental illness, love, loss and physical trauma.
She said the art of spoken word allowed for a “cathartic experience and feeling” to those consuming the poetry.
“Spoken word is poetry that allows expression in a soft and calm way. Its words and utterances are the art form. I write about my truth as a young black South African woman navigating through life.
“I speak about experiences of physical trauma and depression and anxiety.
Poetry allows us to find beauty in the pain we experience. Poetry is a piece of art that hopefully resonates with the people who are watching
“Poetry allows us to find beauty in the pain we experience. Poetry is a piece of art that hopefully resonates with the people who are watching.
“Poetry can be a place of healing as it allows us to feel,” Bam said.
She said the outbreak of the coronavirus had given her the will to fully implement her career onto the digital space.
“The use of the virtual space has allowed me to picture what the future of my work will look like,” Bam said.
She has also set her sights on other creative projects in the near future.
“I'm currently working on a book and have been in constant communication with my editor,” said Bam.
She said she was “open for publishers” to collaborate with on the project.
Bam was born in East London but moved to KwaZulu-Natal. She pursued a dramatic arts degree at Wits University's school of arts.
Bam recalled one of the most recent trying times in her life while in university: “I was enrolled in university at the peak of the #FeesMustFall movement.”
#FeesMustFall was a student-led protest movement that began in mid-October 2015 across the country.
The goals of the movement were to stop increases in student fees and increase government funding of universities.
Thousands of students in South Africa took to their university grounds to protest in the fight for equal education.
Readers wanting to follow Bam's performances and work can visit her Instagram page on: @Zizipho_Bam and her blog: BamZizipho.wordpress.com.
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