Discover more from zebra culture by kojo baffoe
You promised me poems
Writing is partially an exercise in living. In living enough to have enough to write about. Yet, often, I find I have more than enough to write about, but it gets lost somewhere between thought and fingers tapping away at the keyboard.
I used to write poetry with ease, churning out three to four (mediocre) poems a day. Most of them fell short of any standard but, within each one, there were often the seeds of better poems. I still have notebooks (in storage) of the things I was writing 20 … 25 … 30 … years ago. I was (recently) telling a friend that I have been contemplating trying my hand at poetry again.
What I left out is I have also been thinking about trying my hand at fiction, especially short stories. And considering writing a collection of essays, despite the reality that it often feels like my book Listen To Your Footsteps spluttered with a whimper. I don’t know whether to attribute it to it being published during the pandemic… or a small audience … or perhaps it just isn’t compelling enough.
I have, by and large, made peace with it. I try to remember that the accomplishment is having gone through the process of writing. And having ticked the box … book published … I occasionally felt inadequate because I call myself writer and yet hadn’t written a book. Now I can call myself author and writer. Then I remember that it doesn’t really matter what label is used … what matters is that I am good, and living, and working, and …. and ….
Anyway, here are seven things I wanted to share
I wrote the above listening to Aja Monet’s poem, song, short film the devil you know. I can’t tell you where, when or how I came across Aja’s poetry but I have been an admirer of her work for a while. Her publisher was also kind enough to send me a copy of her poetry collection My Mother Was A Freedom Fighter.
In 2023, for the first time, there was a Grammy award for Best Spoken Word Poetry album. Until then, I didn’t know that poetry recordings fell into the same category as audiobooks, narration, documentary or any type of ‘spoken’ recordings, with or without music. One of the albums that was nominated this year was Amir Sulaiman’s You Will Be Someone’s Ancestor. Act Accordingly. which I have been listening to regularly. He is on the opening track In Tune on Robert Glasper’s Black Radio III and I enjoyed it so much, I searched for anything else he had created and found this album. I am now exploring other nominees and the winner, J.Ivy.
When working in magazine, on the African continent, a challenge was finding stock images that reflected the people and spaces around me. Stock images of Black people are seriously lacking and, as a result, there are an increasing number of platforms that seek to address this. Just came across Nappy (Beautiful photos of Black and Brown people, for free”), although it has been around since 2017. It even has images of Africans and is open to submissions from photographers.
I had a long-ish conversation with filmmaker and friend Lebogang Rasethaba and we recorded it.
This is so dope. A digital exhibition of sorts put together by Design Indaba in partnership with Google Arts & Culture: Telling stories through colour
I have been exploring Stoicism through the writings of Ryan Holiday as well as those of the ‘originals’… Marcus Aurelius, Epictetus and Seneca. The Golden Sayings of Epictetus took me close to two years to complete, with a couple of restarts during that time. This episode of Ryan Holiday’s podcast Daily Stoic stuck with me, especially in these times when people feel the need to share their opinions on just about everything.
That’s it for today. If you enjoy receiving the Zebra Culture By Kojo Baffoe newsletter but are not subscribed, please do subscribe.
I would also appreciate it if you shared with a friend who might also like it.
I welcome comments, thoughts, etc. A big thank you to those of you who have sent me messages.
And if you would like a copy of my book Listen To Your Footsteps, it is available online and in bookshops (primarily in South Africa but also on Barnes & Noble and Amazon) both in digital and physical form. If it isn’t available in your local, South African bookshop, ask for them to order it. Or you can mail me and I can make arrangements to get a copy to you.