In a piece entitled The Shifting Fortunes of a Performance Poet (published in the Chimurenga Chronic), Vonani Bila writes: “As the 1990s gave way to the 2000s, South African poetry became increasingly commodified. Themes and content became less political, more individual, and the form deregulated – not opened to experiment so much as abandoned.”
Bila may as well be talking about Cape Town-based poet Kyle Louw, one of the performers to be featured at this year’s Speak the Mind poetry and music festival.
Louw, a relatively new entrant to the world of performance poetry, is the current voice of a Cape Town tourism video with about 15 000 youtube views. Louw’s brand of poetry also eschews broad political themes, preferring to deal with the microscopic emotional details of human relationships.
Louw first began publicly performing after encountering a video by UK slam champion Suli Brakes. “You have that moment in life when something inspires you so much you just have to get your hands dirty and try it out,” he says from Cape Town.