When the phenomenal Keorapeste Khositsile started poetry, the best way to get to people was probably through live performances. While the class of Lebo Mashile showed that television could be taken advantage of. Nomonde ‘Sky’ Mlotshwa is a culmination of both, dashed with the overt ingredient that is social media.
“Without social media I’m nothing,” Sky admittedly says. “It would’ve taken longer to get gigs, interviews or the newly found recognition of Sky as quickly as it has if it weren’t for social media.”
The post ’94 era of hardworking poets such as Napo Masheane and Mashile has inspired this millennial generation to speak their words and not feel weird for wanting to make money off their art, from a young age. Not to suggest that the class of the Sipho Sepamla never worked hard, but they weren’t just working for themselves but were doing so with liberation movements against the draconian apartheid government.
This year marks a decade since poetry has been a catharsis to this East Rander. From jotting mere rhyme schemes to now receiving comments such as
“Nomonde I love your poems!!! Where were you all along…keep up the good work girl,” and “Muhle umsebenzi wakho MaMlotshwa,” from some of her viewers on YouTube.
Shot from her Samsung Galaxy Prime, placed on a window seal at home, the videos which were first only relegated to Facebook Notes until her manager suggested she share them with the rest of the world have now an average of at least 1 200 views on YouTube.
“Especially because it takes a little while for poets who are on the underground scene to get recognised, the world responded and so I kept supplying,” says the 24 year-old.
She posts the videos on a weekly basis, depending on the blockage to her writing.
Sometimes you would hear a train in the background in the videos, but disturbing as it is, it’s equally enjoyable because it’s authentic. She says her inspiration is spread out as her work ranges from how Zodwa Wabantu’s frolics affects us as a society, unprincipled married men or simply her high school crush-you’re captivated by her voice and everything else in and around the verse she’s delivering. “For me poetry is a feeling, a vibe and a need to be at that time, so that’s why my dialogues are wide spread.”
She let her feelings known to Stogie T when he told a hopeful rapper to ditch the dream and rather focus on getting a decent job where he’ll be guaranteed a decent living. While others decided to body shame Stogie, Sky was recording a video responding to the acclaimed rapper’s statement. That piece she recorded ended up a verse on Stogie vs Black Twitter.
“It has opened more poetry doors and receiving attention from a wider audience that wouldn’t really listen or vibe to a poet. It has placed my name in a higher ranking,” she says of the collaboration.
As with other art forms poetry isn’t one dimensional in ways of generating income. A lot of today’s renowned poets are committed to their grind which rewards them with recognition as well as remuneration. From MC gigs, literary and art festivals or even government gigs are some of the opportunities open for wordsmiths. Trio Magnum Opus has a column in the Saturday Star Newspaper’s poetry column, which they titled #PoeticLicence.
“One thing I am extremely passionate about is being a radio personality which thus far has boiled down to being a voice over artist. I also believe that other callings will emerge after I have grown as much as God wishes me to, to receive the bigger purpose.” Sky says. She recently worked with YFM to create a jingle for the station.
As much as social media has and will continue to connect her with people she never thought would appreciate her work, she still wants to break boundaries like those who came before her.
“I want to make a living off poetry, to wake up in different countries just to deliver my voice. I dream of a day where poetry is placed as a musical genre, where it grows beyond the internet. I plan to make poetry more highlighted in today’s youth so it may stand strong for generations to come.”