Poetry, like many other things, is different in Africa than in other parts of the world. Thumelo, a South African poet, performs today at the Sophiatown Bar & Lounge in Melville. African poets — at least the majority of the African poets I’ve seen perform around here — don’t “read” or “recite” their poetry. They express it. The words pour/tumble/erupt/spit straight from their souls into the air around them, flooding their audiences with emotion. We do our best to catch and savor every word, but they come at us too fast. So instead of listening, we just feel.
Last night I attended the Melville Photographic and Poetry Exhibition at the Melville Visitors Centre. The exhibition featured about half a dozen photographers and half a dozen poets. The artists vary widely in their subject matter, professional backgrounds, and ethnic heritage, but share one thing in common — they live and/or work in Melville. I’m not sure I’ve ever experienced this much creativity in a single building before. That is indeed a clown in the middle of the room. The writing on the clown’s chest is a poem by poet/photographer Pierre du Toit, who lives two houses down from Joe and me. Sorry clown fans — this act is not for sale.