"The whole world needs healing and art has that"
Drawing from the Prince Claus Fund’s network, YCreate explores the human palette of dreams, fears, and motivations with one key question: why do you create? This time, we are happy to present you with a short Q&A with Vanessa Chisakula — Poet and Curator of the Word Smash Poetry — a platform for free expression through spoken word and poetry were the best of spoken word artists of southern Africa can meet.
Vanessa, why create?
My team and I are at a point where our creativity is like a drug. We cannot go for days without creating and hence it now became a second nature to us. Whatever we feel or whatever goes on around us we respond to it through our art.
Who inspires you in your work?
Life generally. There is so much going on and life has these daily surprises ready for us — a source of multiple ideas.
What’s it like to be an artist in Southern Africa? I would like to narrow it down to my country Zambia, where art, in my opinion, is appreciated, while the artist is not. So half the time a Zambian artist lives a life of sacrifice — always entertaining people who have literally failed to accept that there can be value in what you give to them. On the other hand, we are the owners of a diversified culture leaving us with many untold stories which for us, as creatives, is a good place to start.
How are you dealing with the Covid-19 situation?
The team has embarked on an Art-It project which involves southern African poets doing short videos amidst the crisis. Crafting messages of hope for anyone who is lost and also educating people who need to learn what to do in these trying times.
You can find out more about Art-It and discover the videos here:
Word Smash Poetry
Word Smash Poetry. 8K likes. A Platform Where The Best of Spoken Word Artists Of Southern Africa Meet . The Platform…
What role do you think creators have in such times of crisis?
This is the time we put to use the intrinsic benefits of art. The whole world needs healing and art has that, this is when we need to produce more because as more people spend time at home, they are indulging in books, movies, poems, and other means of entertainment to escape the sad reality since the virus has shut us all down.
What do you want to achieve with the Word Smash Poetry project?
I want it to become a go-to platform for southern African art.
What advice would you give your 16-year-old self?
Don't be afraid to become a poet.
Art is at the heart of what makes us human. That’s why, in an era of building walls and blaming ‘the other’, it’s essential that cultural expression is free and valued. Every story counts, but not every story gets the attention it deserves.
The Prince Claus Fund aims for change with YCreate — a platform to connect the next generation with the extraordinary stories and diverse perspectives of creative people from all over the world. Discover more stories on our Instagram page!