Every month, I’ll be featuring a Malawian creative/entrepreneur that I appreciate and love what they do. The featured creative of the month of May is a good friend of mine, but that is not why he is featured here. He is a Poet and entrepreneur, he released his debut poetry project titled Broken Keys EP in 2016 and has shared his poetry on stages such as the Lake of Stars Festival and Tumaini Festival. I got to sit down and talk to him about his poetry, Malawian poetry and the creative scene in Malawi. Here is what we talked about:
Who is Marumbo the poet?
Marumbo is a young guy trying to put into words the things that I experience. My poetry is based on some of my feelings, emotions and the things that I observe, and how that relates to me. It’s also my audio diary, when I go through something, sometimes I write about it or when I think of something that would be really cool to express. There are some poems that I would never share because they are for my diary, but some that I share because I think someone else can relate to it.
What has been your journey to poetry? How did you discover that you can actually write? And what made you fall in love with poetry?
I used to always enjoy poetry, and growing up I enjoyed reading a lot. For me, the poems that actually stand out are the ones that express a story and it’s funny because I don’t usually write that sort of poetry. I also enjoy the way people can express different things that you and I see, that can incite an emotion in you just from the things that we see. I also love how the words are put together, and how they are thoughtfully put together, but I never actually used to write. I would go to Mibawa Poetry Club every week and watch my friends write and perform, and sometimes I would even recite my friend’s poems when he didn’t want to recite lol. But I never actually wrote my own.
Over time, one of my friends encouraged me to write and I wrote my poem titled “we forged on”, I shared it at the club and people liked it and the rest is history.
What has made you become a better writer?
When I started writing I would just write for fun, but I realised that this is a gift and I should take better care of it. Some of the things that made me a better writer was hanging out with poets that I looked up to and were better than me. I also started reading more, I would read up on the different types of poetry and the skills and sets that you need for poetry as well as the difference between written poetry and spoken word and the history of poetry.
I also started to watch more poetry like Def Jam poetry, Brave New voices and poets such as George the poet from the UK. The fact that I loved made it easier to watch poetry, but the only difference was now I was writing to learn so that made me a better writer.
Do you do writing exercises or slam other poets for practice?
I do. I give myself challenges, and I write with my friend George Kalukusha, who is a singer/songwriter and he is also a poet and we give each other challenges where we can say let’s write 30 poems in 30 days. I also actively go to places where poets meet and share the whichever city I am in, when I am in Lilongwe I go to Living Room Poetry and in Blantyre, I got to Kwaharaba Arts. I go there to sit and listen and also share, as well as do writing sessions with fewer groups of poets where we share what we are reading and learning.
How does the fact that you are a Christian affect your poetry? Would you say your poetry is explicitly Christian? Does your faith play a part in your poetry?
I am of the opinion that my faith plays a part in all of my life if affects everything; what I wear, what I eat and what I write. The things with poetry it’s an expression of what’s happening in your heart, and not everything you express is Godly all the time and there are times where I have to filter my thoughts. But I trust God enough to say, he has saved me and is sanctifying me enough, so that whatever I express should be in line with his will. But I wouldn’t say I am an explicitly “gospel poet” or Christian poet per se, but I do think about the faith. So even when you read my poems you will see an element of that because they are things I naturally think about, I think about God and theology quite a lot so they naturally come out.
And there are seasons where I have some sort of aggression towards God and I’m penning that down but everything else is not actively trying to write “Christian poetry” or expounding a verse of the bible in poetry. But you will see elements of theology, and verses quoted different way, and I believe that God gave us entertainment and when we experience poetry and it makes us happy we are experiencing God because he wants us to be joyous.I am of the opinion that my faith plays a part in all of my life if affects… Click To Tweet
Tell me about the broken Keys EP?
Would you believe me if I said it took me 2 years to write and record?
Yes, I would actually hahaha!
Broken keys is a journey of what kind of poet I wanted to be. I love the fact that finish the EP off with a poem called misfit and misfit is basically a discourse of me finding an identity. In certain places where I didn’t fit in being in situations where you just don’t fit in. The struggle of finding an identity and every person goes through a journey where you are trying to find out who you really are. So with the whole EP, it’s me expressing different things that I go through and finding myself.
I noticed that every poem on Broken Key Is named after a song? Was that intentional?
I have maybe tomorrow and stay, that was not intentional. It just happened lol! It actually just clicked now!
What was your favourite poem to write?
My favourite to write was when it rains because I was trying something that I hadn’t done in a while because as a young poet you always want to have Quotables and punchlines. But with when it rains I wanted to write a poem that tells a story and incite an emotion, it’s something that I hadn’t done and something I had to actively think about and work towards. It took a lot of effort and thought to paint the picture.
So, what’s your favourite poem?
I like them all for different reasons, but I think misfit because it was the most personal one. Because at the end of the journey of trying to find myself I make the confession that “I am no God and no ruler of my own sheep, I am just a mere vessel of clay” and I enjoy that submission because my whole life is a submission that I am nothing without God.
What has the response been to the Broken Keys EP?
It’s been good, I tried not to set a too high expectation. I’ve had positive feedback and negative feedback, but the general feedback has been that it has been a good project. I’ve done a couple of radio interview and blogs and I am here with you lol!
What should WE as your fans be expecting an album this year?
No album this year but I am working on my next EP which is going to be a poetry meets acoustic set. Which I am working on now, but I am working on having it out November or December.
What do you see that is very positive in the Malawian poetry scene?
There are more people taking note of the art scene in Malawi and actively helping other people to explore their art. There are more people coming to poetry events and more poets who are being invited to perform at events being paid for it.
Do you think there is a divide between the Malawian Chichewa poetry and English poetry scene?
As a Christian, I have, to be honest, lol. So yeah there is a divide, and as an English Poet, I know there are certain places where it’s a Chichewa scene and your response won’t be the same because it’s a different scene. But in the same way, it’s because there is a divide in people, people like different things and how people react to certain things.
Do you think poets should try to bridge that gap?
I personally don’t think we need to. Because people like and enjoy different things and that’s okay. But one side should not look down on the other side, but we should be able to enjoy and celebrate one another.
Who is your favourite Malawian Poet?
My favourite Malawian poet is Q, and not just because of his poetry which I enjoy but also his brand. He has managed to work hard to build a name for himself to the point that he is the go-to name for Malawian poetry.
My other favourite poet is Jedidiah/ Chisomo because he is creative and insane!My favourite Malawian poet is @qmalewezi, and not just because of his poetry… Click To Tweet
Since this is a feature for the Malawian Creative Scene, what is your perception of it?
My personal opinion is that we have a lot of dope creative people. But Malawian Art doesn’t automatically pay, I think a lot of Malawian artists get impatient and set the expectations that are too high for our scene. We need to set our places where people can enjoy their art and make a living off it but won’t happen now or overnight, and people need to stick to their art and trust their art.
But at the same time, we need to be realistic, we live in a third world country and arguably the poorest country in the world, you need a day job to earn a living. But don’t let that kill your dream, there are few who are able to make a living off it and sustain themselves, but that’s not going to be all of us.
And the other thing is that we are lazy sometimes because we don’t always put in the kind of work that allows the art in Malawi to be at a place where it’s respected and people are making a living off it, so we need to put in more work. The things the fruit of our labour will not come immediately especially here where it is hard to do anything, so we need to be patient to wait for that fruit.
The positive thing is that more people are working hard, building brands and pursuing their dreams. There are movements happening where more people are getting on radio, TV and shows.
Who are your favourite creatives from Malawi that people should know?
Theo Thomson (Musician), Mandela Mwanza (Rapper, Entrepreneur, Philanthropist), Patience Namadingo (Musician), Gome Saka (photographer), David and Debbie from HomeGrown (Fashion Designers), Zeeya Photography (photographer), George Kalukusha (singer, songwriter, poet). There are so many!
Last Words? Things we should look out for?
A video for my poem misfit, shooting a lot of videos with gypsy TV where we shoot at unexplored hidden gems locations in Blantyre and a whole lot of poetry videos.
Where can people find you?
Check out this fun 1 MINUTE video I did with Marumbo after our interview
This is the end of the interview, but before you go! I am giving away a signed and personally delivered copy of the Broken Keys EP by Marumbo, all you have to do is answer this question in the comments section”What is the title of the poetry video Marumbo released on 29 April 2017?” The first person to answer wins!!
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