Saturday, 14 April 2012

#FindOutFriday with POETIKA


I was first introduced to Poetika roughly a year ago now, at a (then) new live music night where ESP's own Lekhem was performing. Like the rest of the audience during his performance, I recall being transfixed by his powerful wordplay and skill at commanding the room with Spoken Word on some pretty heavy topics that you would expect to lose a crowd in that environment.

Take a trip into the world of an overlooked artform this week as we #FindOut more about what's coming straight outta East London!

Introducing Poetika...

1. Welcome to #FindOutFriday! Let's start by getting to know you, the 'Poet' part is self-explanatory, but what inspired the rest of your name?

Thank you for having me! 'Poetica' means 'Poetry' in Greek; but I didn't get it directly from that. There are a few ancient principles that I like; one of them is called 'Hermetica' - ancient teachings and principles that people used to go by. Originally from Egypt, I thought I'd change it and add the 'k' for a twist. It was supposed to be an online Spoken Word magazine but I performed one day and ever since then it became my name. It just means that I'll have to name the magazine something else when I bring it out later.

2. Words quite obviously have a firm grip on you; with a Creative Writing BA and a career in Journalism. Tell us about the first thing you wrote; what ignited the 'Buzz'?

I used to read a lot of plays in college and I've always liked poetry. What did I first write...I don't know if you remember when you used to get those text messages...there's one that I will always remember:

'If dreams weren't dreams and dreams came true;
I wouldn't be here I'd be next to you.
Distance is one thing that keeps us apart,
But you''ll always remain in my heart.'

When people used to send out those generic messages to their friends or their girlfriends, I thought 'I could write that'; and this is when I was young, still in school. I always used to attempt to write them but I couldn't do it because it didn't come from the heart. Reading is what really got me started with writing because I think they go hand-in-hand with each other. I  never studied Sociology, but I loved reading about society, civilisation, poverty, racism...I first started with poverty; I used to write so much about it and it wasn't poetry to begin with, it was just anger. I used to write about racism but that wasn't poetry; it wasn't articulate. To begin with, I didn't know Journalism was what I wanted to do; when I studied Creative Writing, we'd learn about novels, poetry, prose...everything in terms of Literature. I started reading up on different Poets that I never knew about; Poets I used to hear about but never really paid attention to, like Maya Angelou. Then I started writing really heartfelt stuff and thought 'This is Me'. The only problem was that I didn't know how to perform it, or say it. Because I always used to look at it as performance and I could never do it. But after awhile, I realised this is stuff that I actually speak about with a passion, so why don't I do that with my poetry? Then I heard Gil Scott Heron. When I first heard him, I realised I could do this. I can't sing, but the things he talks about and the way he expresses himself in his poetry and music, made me realise I can really do this. 

3. So Literature has clearly had a huge impact on what you do; can you talk about some of the works that resonated with you the most?

'1984' by George Orwell; 'The Art of War' by Sun Tzu, 'A Brave New World' by Aldous Huxley; Sister Souljah - 'The Coldest Winter Ever'...after awhile I thought, I don't want to read novels any more because they all sound the same; they were all about coming up from struggles to success, back to struggling, back to successes...I started to ask myself where does the whole thing come from? Especially within Black communities and families. Then I started reading up on Black History; when I say Black History, I don't mean Slavery; I mean Black History before Slavery. That is when it opened up a lot more doors for me. I was no longer confining to a 'London-state of Mind'. I started reading books on Egyptian Mythology, Greek Mythology , Chinese principles and teachings and more.

4. Politics and World Affairs are quite heavy topics for a young man of your age to focus solely on. What is it about them that inspires your work?

The word Revolution comes to mind. I think it's so cliché; but when I say 'Revolution', I don't mean the (London) Riots because I feel that it means 'Mind before Action'; if we retrained our way of thinking, then that's a revolution in itself. The world at the moment, the way it's shaped, it's such a cycle - there's no Peace. I think there's no profit in peace because it's far too expensive for there to be World Peace - War employs too many people. Stuff like that is what intrigues me and I feel if I can write about it and just one person reads about it, then that's ok. It's our duty to address things like that because we feed into it if we do nothing about it.

5. You're not all about the heavy-handed topics though - what makes you smile?

Seeing people do well...Sports...Anything Social, where people are together. If I didn't play football, I wouldn't know as many people as I do now. There's teamwork in Sports and I think that brings people together.

6. You have a website launching next week; what can we expect to find on there?
The website is launching next Friday. With my poetry, I'm trying to collaborate with more Musicians and do some more videos. I want to advertise and promote poetry. Over this next year, I plan to popularise Spoken Word. It will have articles by me and others; it 's going to have Arts in collaboration, I worked with Dee Sinke, a Lithuanian artist who drew pictures and did paintings for poems that I've done; then I wrote poetry to certain things that they've done as well. I wanted to do something different. In Renaissance times all the creative artists would merge everything together, whereas I feel that now everyone's on this "I'm doing my own thing" attitude. I really like Art; whenever someone says 'A picture tells 1000 words', I want to write those 1000 words...If someone can read my words and gets a different interpretation - I want an Artist to get a different interpretation and paint a picture. That's exactly what we did. I try to only collaborate with people who share the same vision that I do. 

7. You've told me previously that Journalism is your main goal, which surprised me because you're so comfortable performing - how did you end up on the stage?

That's because I used to do Performing Arts when I was in college. When I'm on stage, the reason I'm comfortable is because the majority of stuff that I talk about, I'm really feeling. That's why I don't even feel like I'm 'performing'; I feel like I'm just having a conversation with you behind closed doors, but I promote it, kind of like a one-way conversation. A few people have asked me how I go about poetry, they write but don't know how to go about performing. I've always said that if it's something that they write and something that they really feel, then they should have no problems having a conversation about it. We don't realise that every time we speak, it's Poetry. When we've got a sense of humour - it's Poetry. When we're laughing about things, telling jokes and doing things we don't even realise we're doing - it's Poetry...

8. You mentioned Gil Scott Heron earlier. Who else inspires you and in what way?

There's not really many people, it's more books that I've read. The Prince by Machiavelli inspired me a lot. Sun Tzu wrote The Art of War; The Prince is kind of like 'The Art of Power'. It tells you how to manipulate people and get them on your side. It's helped me a lot. Just in the way that it was written, it's very poetic.

9. So we now know about your Poetry and your Journalistic aspirations, but there was almost another career path...Tell us about your International Pro-Football exploits:

When I was younger I played for Leyton Orient; I played semi-pro for Clapton then after Uni, I  went to play in Portugal - that's when I had my knee injury. I had an operation out there, then when I came back to England my friend told me about trials in America; that was for Chicago Fire. My knee problems carried on though. They were 2-day trials and I got through the first day but I was in doubt for the second. They could  see I wasn't doing well because of my knee problems so I didn't make it through. Another trial came up for Colerado and I went through to the final stages of the trials. I really enjoyed that one even though I didn't get a contract. I came back here and played Semi-Pro up until about 5 months ago when I had another injury and I just said forget it. I've played District League football from then on.

10. Can you tell us one of your own favourite quotes?

"A wise man uses his mind to create the environment around him."

As always, a massive Thank You to Poetika for braving this week's hotseat - it was another fun one! Do make sure you STAY TUNED to the exploits of this extremely talented Artist, by connecting via his Social Media:

And don't forget - Poetika's earlier-mentioned website launch:

Hope you enjoyed this week's feature folks! Whether you like it or you don't - Speak your Words!

ES ;)