SIPHOKAZI JONAS GOES TO LA
About This Project
SIPHOKAZI JONAS GOES TO LA
In 2014 I met and shared the stage with US poets Ezekiel Azonwu and Janette…ikz at the Cape Town leg of their South African tour. They are part of an internationally renowned movement, Passion for Christ Movement (P4CM), which hosts the WORLD’S LARGEST SPOKEN WORD EVENT, Rhetoric. Here they encouraged me to audition for the annual event, noting that the US is ready to hear what South African spoken word has to offer. Two years later, I have been accepted as one of five open mic acts to perform at Rhetoric 2016. This makes me the first South African and African poet ever to perform on the stage. The event hosts a 3500-strong audience and 3000-5000 online viewers.
First meeting with USA poets Ezekiel Azonwu and Janette…ikz. Cape Town, South Africa
Who am I?
As a writer, performer and poet, my passion has always been the South African story and the relevance of hope. Along with numerous performances around the country, I have written, produced, and performed in three one-woman poetry shows, “Poetry Under the Stars,” “Wrestling with Dawn,” and “Conspiracy Theory,” in Cape Town and Johannesburg. In 2016 we staged my first professional, multi-genre theatre production, “Around the Fire,” at the Artscape Spiritual Festival. All of these productions have been driven by stories of oppressed, and sidelined members of society. My work seeks to restore both faith and hope, while countering problematic narratives. The work I have done alongside social responsibility organisations such as Project 021, Jelly Beanz Inc., and The Real Village, has seen me engage with young people through writing, reading and performance. In my own capacity, I run workshops for schools and faith and community groups. I would like to contribute not only to the South African and global poetry industry, but also to use this art form as a way of connecting our stories with the world. Going to Rhetoric 2016 will have a definite and positive impact on that goal.
Performing with legendary musician, Sipho “Hotstix” Mabuse in Sea Point. Cape Town, South Africa.
Why this event?
To attend this event would not only be life-changing, but it would also present the chance for a cultural and artistic exchange; an opportunity to represent South African poetry on an international scale. By strengthening ties with P4CM, the way will be open for other African poets that may want to be part of Rhetoric in the future. I will also be taking time to observe and learn the behind-the-scenes production elements of this event. The P4CM YouTube channel has over 20 million views and a very high production standard. I would like to learn how we might implement some of their successes for multimedia poetry productions in Cape Town.
Growing up in the small town of Queenstown, in the Eastern Cape, this is the kind of dream that I would never have dared to attempt. Although I have spent 11 years writing and performing here and there, I have only had the courage to do poetry professionally in the last two and a half years. As one of many young people who spent most of their twenties trying to figure out their purpose, I hope that my trip will inspire other young and not so young South Africans to dream outrageously. My driving philosophy as a poet is “Changing Lives With Words.” Let’s make this a reality.
Tipping point: R15000 ($1000) would ensure that I do not walk/swim to the US, by securing a return flight from Cape Town to Los Angeles.
Dream goal: R20000 ($1350) food, transport, expenses – this would prevent me from starving and walking everywhere, on the wrong side of the road.
UCT graduate, Siphokazi Jonas, holds a Masters degree in English literature, as well as a Bachelor of Arts degree in Drama and English. As a poet, she has been a featured act in the Inzync Poetry Sessions, Expression Session Kuilsriver, Grounding Sessions, Artsemble and the Joburg Theatre CSP Open Sessions. SHe has performed alongside South African musicians such as Sipho “Hotstix” Mabuse, Pops Mohamed, and many others. Jonas was the 2015 curator of Poetica, the poetry programme of the annual Open Book Festival. She has been an opening act for UK Hip Hop artist S.O. and American poets Alysia Harris, Janette Ikz and Ezekiel Azonwu. She is the reigning Home of Poetry slam champion, crowned at the Cape Town Ultimate Slam in 2015. Jonas founded storytelling poetry, music and theatre band, 12 Years a Band.