Chat with Mihlali

Firstly, tell us a bit about yourself.

My name is Mihlali Songcaka, I’ll be 25 in September. I was born in Mthatha, Eastern Cape. I speak IsiXhosa as well as English, Sesotho/Setswana and Afrikaans. I used to play rugby and I started writing poetry in 2012.

What were you like at school?

I had a mild temper but my kindness overshadowed it. I was always respectful towards fellow students and teachers.

Since you write in English, were you good at it in school?

Honestly, I wasn’t good at it and the subject gave me a hard time.

What are your ambitions for your writing career?

I would like to have a book published in 2019. I would really like for my poems to be well-known and to build my brand. I would also like to become a good performer and a better writer; and to have my work being used in theatre, film and television series.

Which writers inspire you and why?

Honestly, I have not been inspired by any writers and I don’t know many writers but hat inspires me are real-life events and the lives of others.

What are you working on at the moment?

I’m working on a few poems that I would like to get published this year.

Why do you write? As in, what made you sit down and start writing?

If I could remember, I would tell you but unfortunately, I don’t remember why I started. I do remember that I wrote a long rap verse for a friend and he told me that it rhymed well. What initiated the poetry is something that I’m still trying to figure out and oddly, since I don’t remember why poetry feels so special to me.

What do you use to write?

I use my laptop and sometimes I write with pen and paper. Most of the time, I feel that the poem I want to write at that specific moment would be better written by hand than on the laptop and it would come out better.

Where do your ideas come from?

Real-life events from people, sometimes from a sog or my own emotions and feelings or just even random words in my head.

What is the hardest thing about writing?

Firstly, writer’s block and trying to show others that my style is completely different from the usual stuff they read/hear.

Do you get writer’s block? If so, how do you get through it?

Yes, I do. I just don’t write or think about a poem in my head. So, I just leave that poem ad do something else.

Do you read much? If so, who are your favourite authors?

No, actually I only started reading this year, but so far, the book I’m enjoying is Unf*ck Yourself by Gary John Bishop

Which celebrated person, living or dead, would you most like to meet and why?

Well, I have a list but I recently met Sipho Nkosi on Freedom Day. He’s on my list right along with President Cyril Ramaposa and Patrice Motsepe.

Favourite book.

Screw It, Let’s Do It by Richard Branson

Favourite film.

Transformer sequels

Favourite song.

Drake – Look What You’ve Done

Connect with Mihlali on his Facebook page, Pieces by Mihlali Songcaka

 

 

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Imbokodo (Winnie Mandela)

You saved us,
You fought for us,
Inspired our mothers and sisters
around Africa and the world.

Showed man and woman,
and embodied,
Strength,
Courage,
Vision.

Showing us as the nation,
Never to back down
and to keep fighting,
You left us
and into dark holes,
Our hearts fell,
Mama Imbokodo,
To the nation,
The world,
You are a hero.

Mother and daughter,
Strong and courageous,
Never say die,
Imbokodo.

From mother to daughter,
Your teachings, your words,
Your songs, your voice,
Echoed through the generations,
Imbokodo.

Your spirit remains,
In the black clothes and doeks,
Mothers and sisters,
Pay their respects,
Imbokodo.

Imbokodo,
Long live,
Long live,
Madikizela,
Mama wethu.

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Kansas City Shuffle: Valentines Edition

Whoever said that nothing good nor contrustuve could come from a WhatsApp group clearly hasn’t been me for the past few days.

Were it not for our girl’s group, I truly would not have realised that yesterday was Valentine’s day, wasn’t it?16584865_243305366126884_2291765510871711744_n

No…. I mean, there wasn’t much red, white and pink around, and lest we forget the big news; but it was pretty much just another day, right? Well, apart from the textual calamity, it was pretty much another day.

See, I happen to be dating a person who happens to be a valentinophobe. Valentine’s day is the zenith of his fear.

He made me look to the right, while he went left and had me thinking that perhaps I should pull an Eternal Sunshine – you know, wipe my memory? I was angry for a myriad of contrived reasons at the level of asininity that he exhibited; but then I figured that I should rather get to the bottom of his sudden angst.

It all started two days ago with an unexpected text message that read “WHY WOULD YOU SAY THAT?”, to which I responded with “where?” Of which the subsequent conversation was a passive-aggressive exchange about something that I did not say!

So, why are some people so afraid of Valentine’s day? Is it the expectations? Or is it a deeper fear or love? Maybe it’s just the commercial and material side to it that’s made people more unperturbed by the brouhaha behind this greeting card holiday. Whichever way, my boyfriend should have known that I was one of them and it would have saved us a lot of data.

Whichever way, waking up to messages that Valentine’s day plans were cut short because the big announcement was consolation enough for that little part of me that still wishes it could get a heart-shaped box of chocolates, just once.

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ABOUT: Lebogang Mashishi

“We all need someone to hold our hand,
tell us it will be alright, we could all do with a bit of motivation”

Lebogang Mashishi’s love for reading and writing started when he was in high school. Over the years, he observed the life around him and with the hopes of making a difference in society through his writing; he started sharing the particular narratives around him. He is currently writing a book on finance.

Lebogang is a co-founder of a production company, Fat Brain Ideas, and dabbles in script-writing, directing and producing. The company’s current projects include a short film and two documentaries

Apart from writing, Lebogang runs a charity foundation that collects and distributes presents to children in hospitals.

Lebogang’s creative essay “Everybody Needs Motivation” is inspired by the township, a place of poverty in South Africa.  He writes that it is rich in undiscovered talent as there are no systems in place to nurture and develop the youth and that positive influences can turn the township into a factory rich in talent.

Lebogang’s creative essay is featured in The #Coinage Book One – on sale here.

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I know

pen

I know you’re going to want to see this letter
Wishing for comfort
Feeling misunderstood
Feeling confused because they said they love you
Feeling used
Feeling like you have everything to say
but no one has asked you,
Or you’ve run out of people to tell,
Or people to call,
Or people to take calls from…

I know you’re going to come out of this
And go into it again
And ask yourself
If you are,
And who you are,
And how you came to be
And what it all means…

I know it feels like
They all eventually leave
(Keep a door open)
I know you have to get up
And sit down without
Witnesses and enquiry

I know you look for affection
I know it feels unfair

I know you’re looking for this letter

Well then write to yourself
Write for yourself
And find out you’re enough just the way you are
And soon,
To your pain,
They’ll come back,
And you’ll wonder why they do this all the time

You stay
Let them be as they may.

I know what you want to hear
You go too long a time without the words
You go too long a time not saying them
(Who would you say them to? Would they be worth the yolk?)
I know you wish the one phone call
Would come and never cease coming

I know

And while its not, and the hours go by
And so does your life
And you ask yourself your value and your position
And your relevance and your worth
And a new haircut and polished shoes
And a new week by the sound of the alarm
But the words or the phone call
Or the misery or the doubt
Or the consequent self-loathing that go along with it

I know.

There are no answers but to answer yourself
I would rather you run without looking back
To a place of fresh start but you’ll always be running
I’d rather you beg but you’ll always be begging
I’d rather you end it all but it will always be over

I know you’re stuck in-between,
in-betwixt,
encrusted and enveloped,
Wrapped tight and chained
And when you say “help” they ask “come again?”

Its funny

But I know if you overcome and survive
You’ll not only live but you’ll know what its like to be alive.

– Thibedi Mokgokong | 2015

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On Booze and Being a Writer

Lord Bryon said that “Man being reasonable must get drunk; The best of life is but intoxication”. The regulars at clubs as well as authors seem to concur, so maybe I lost some memo along the way. Literature is peppered with heavy drinkers. From the Fitzgeralds to the quieter, lonelier drinkers like Charles Bukowski, there has always been a need to intoxicate in order to create. Is it because, as Lord Bryon would have us think, that truth and the best is only attainable when drunk? Being uninhibited and less self-critical sounds wonderful to me. Having some grand confidence and believing my laptop will be the birthplace of the next South African novel is not too shabby either. Should I pick out my poison of choice now? Two glasses, please.

So, what is it about the writing community and booze. Having read a few articles on the subject I think I have found the truth. Then again I was perfectly sober when writing this so can I be trusted? Writers write for an invisible audience. We create without really knowing who for, and that makes us anxious. We become self-critical and in questioning our talent, we land up questioning a lot more. We curse the human condition and never believe that anything we write will be good enough for the ghosts. Alcohol is that quick fix, it makes us little arrogant creatures that can scale that wall, hook up with Timothy’s brother or prove that there is no human endeavor we cannot overcome. But, I am not convinced that ghosts are the answer.

Do writers drink because they are so conscious of the human condition that to be away from it, distanced by a foul breath and a hangover makes writing about it easier? Do we have to ‘forget’ in order to write and in that forgetting find ourselves? I recently took a course on writing for children and what took me by surprise the most was the notion that the modern writer is a lawyer, a doctor, a kindergarten teacher with time on her hands. The idea of what ‘a writer’ is is morphing and with it are their drinking habits. I am not suggesting that there are not drunken authors, just that what an author ‘ought’ to be like is changing. Writers can be people who write for 2h a night and then cook and finish their statistics work before bed. Too often do we paint this somewhat glamorized picture in our heads about what it means to be an ‘artist’. We imagine that we, like Hemingway, we must be tortured and drunk in order to write. That the apartment in Paris and the empty gin bottles are welcomed signs of greatness. That in being drunk we are ‘most free’ and what we write will be most fine. I have never written drunk, and there is nothing about the looseness that comes with the state that I enjoy. I am a writer of notebooks, of keeping the margins clean and my water bottle full. Call me prudish but I don’t think that drink is the answer; I think reading is. By reading, we engage with others troubles, their small hopes, and their voice. We can find ourselves in the pages of other books or write ourselves into ones. Drinking may make us more confident, more self-assured but does it make us more talented. I don’t think it does. Confidence should not be in the bottle for if we look hard enough we can find that our confidence is sprinkled across the literature that came before us.

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