17 May 2018

Namibia: Spoken Word Namibia Closed for 2018

THERE'S no denying the impact of Spoken Word Namibia.

Founded almost 12 years ago and home to such celebrated performance poets as Ashwyn Mberi, Playshis the Poet, Metamorph, Truth, Keith, Miss Anne, Melody, D and Patrick Sam while paving the way for fellow creative monthlies Free Your Mind, Song Night and The Gathering, Spoken Word has come a long way but has not been without the kind of challenges that have culminated in the need to take a creative break.

"The organisation has really helped shape a big part of the artscape in the country," says Spoken Word organising member, Nesindano Namises. "It has played a big role in helping young poets and artists from many other disciplines to explore how they express themselves as practitioners, but it has also been a space where many different people come together to share, learn and enjoy themselves."

Essentially closed for the year in terms of their regular showcases featuring a revolving door of poets, Spoken Word is set to return in 2019 after assessing issues of organisation, creativity, funding and dwindling attendance.

"The organisation has always been run on a voluntary basis by individuals passionate about the arts and specifically performance poetry. Unfortunately, many have moved their focus toward more personal goals and so our collective vision is shaking a bit, so to say," says Namises.

"While struggling to re-strengthen our organisational structure and creative map, we also realised that many other platforms have been providing alternate approaches while this has been one of our struggles. We would like to see how we can coexist while still focusing on being a space for learning and sharing."

Though both patrons and poets may be disappointed by the lack of the platform in the coming months, Namises believes creative breaks are necessary.

"The process of reinvention is not an unfamiliar one. Perhaps not even reinvention. Perhaps just a rest and a reflection period," she says. "As much as it was not an easy decision, it felt as though this would help us to look at our past challenges and success and see how we can use that to contribute to create a Spoken Word that continues to contribute to the growth of poetry and artists and larger spaces in these spaces."

Eager and welcoming of suggestions from those who have been a part of the community or would like to contribute to the development of the platform, Namises adds that while Spoken Word will not be accommodating poets on their own stage, they may very well find space at The Gathering, Lyricists Lounge, The Cypher and Song Night.

"In order for these platforms to exist and create expressive spaces for artists, we must also do our part in directing our support and artists/enthusiasts to other spaces," she says "Support plays a big role in creating awareness for art events and projects happening in the country."

As for the future of Spoken Word, it is being written and fans of the movement can count on it.

"I think there is space for growth for Spoken Word, perhaps we have become the wise auntie who must now sit around the fire with youngsters to tell old stories," says Namises.

"Your favourite poets will not disappear. We would like to thank all those who have supported the platform. We will return in 2019."

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