Her words are her gift to the world and she hopes to share her own African narrative in a way that will inspire, uplift and ignite a spark in people. Not only does Puno Selesho shine on stage, her golden heart has her involved in various social entrepreneurial ventures that aim to positively impact communities. As the founder of The Cherry Blossom Project, which provides Matric Dresses (Prom Dresses) for underprivileged girls, it is clear that she is changing the world one day at a time.
Poetry and sunset stories with the law graduate, social entrepreneur and poet, Puno Selesho as she debunks all the myths we may have had about the spoken word art.
“All poets have good intentions.”
We are performers just like any other stage hogging creature and we crave the attention. The clicks we get from the audience affirm that we are saying something that resonates with someone in the crowd but it also inflates one’s ego. Some of the most arrogant people I’ve ever met are poets…but, the beauty is in how subtle the pride is. This is not always a bad thing, you need to believe in yourself and your words in order deliver a piece with absolute conviction because there’s a big chance someone will hate the piece or the crowd won’t react at all. So you need to believe in yourself first and have pride in your piece.
The key is to not trade authenticity for fame.
“We are grammar Nazis.”
Wrong and wrong again! I make so many spelling mistakes in the first drafts of my poems, in text messages, emails and even essays! I always have to read and re-read my stuff in order to correct the grammar. This is part of perfecting ones art. It isn’t just about the cool imagery or clever punch lines. There’s a lot of discipline that is required when writing a poem and with any creative venture really.
“Poets are depressed.”
Some of the best poets I know are content with their lives and have found their own version of joy. I don’t deny that poetry is a great outlet for anyone dealing with inner turmoil or a mental illness (This is a great time to mention how much I love Sylvia Plath and how I’ve been greatly influenced by her work).
But poets don’t need to have a dark cloud hanging over them in order to produce good work. We are just deep thinkers.
We have insight to many things; we are constantly engaging with our environments and I suppose we remain sensitive enough to the world in order to convert normal interactions and behaviour into art pieces. What I can say (and I speak for myself here and not every poet) that I feel everything very deeply whether good or bad and I often tend to rely on the subtext of a given situation. But on the other hand there are poets out there who don’t necessarily write out of a place of emotion but are more mechanical with their work.
“We love all our poems.”
There are some of my poems that I have re-read or even performed that make me cringe. But in order to stay true to self I don’t discard these pieces because there was a time when it was my truth.
“Sharing poetry is easy.”
Sharing your poem with complete strangers can be one of the toughest things. You are giving people a glimpse into who you are and inviting them to your innermost. Like I mentioned before, there’s a risk of scrutiny and it’s not just the written work that is being scrutinised but the thoughts and feeling behind it as well. Art is a vulnerable thing which I find terrifying and incredible all at once. Oddly enough the stage is the safest place for me. I think I’m addicted to the nakedness of it all.
“Poets are poor.”
Well this is a half-truth. Poetry is not necessarily the most paying industry (in fact there’s so much more room for growth in this area) but you’ll be surprised how much corporates are willing to pay for a good spoken word performance. There are things that corporate people want to say and a culture they want to develop but they just don’t know how to articulate it. That’s where creatives fit in. Also, there are slam poetry competitions that people can enter and win cash prizes. But again, there’s still room for growth.
“Poets are in an exclusive club where only few are invited.”
Absolute rubbish. So many people disqualify themselves from being called a poet just because they think their work isn’t good enough. I know this because I used to think like this as well. Until I realised that I was far too in love with the art form to deny myself the right to call myself a writer and a spoken word artist. If you feel you are not skilled enough, own it. You can only get better. I would encourage anyone to start writing, keep writing and don’t ever stop.
*Video made by Daville Films & Photography
*Words by Puno Selesho