Tag Archives: creativity

#259 ~ Ithemba Projects : Day 24

Below are excerpts of some of my students written poetry. Enjoy and be inspired:

Prayer for Day 24: That the spirit of creativity will continue to inspire these children long after I’ve gone. That they realise there is power in the written word and use it to improve their futures.

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#251 ~ Ithemba Projects : Day 18

If music be the food of love, play on. 

If I’m honest, at the beginning of my time working for Ithemba Projects, there was no love lost between myself and the children of the Drop in Centre. My inability to communicate with them effectively, meant they pushed all the boundaries that one could push. If it wasn’t that they were screaming, then they were pulling the guitar strings, taking each others food, jumping up, eating crayons, trying to hug you – you name it, they crossed it. So this morning, whilst the African Rain was still pelting Hilton hard, I was mildly concerned when my colleague explained I would once again have the privilege of going solo to the crèche. She had a meeting, I took the guitar.

As Sweetwaters and Hilton are located on an escarpment, they are often covered in a dense mist, when the rest of Martizburg is enjoying sunshine which will happily tip 40 degrees. I had effectively deceived myself before I left – an African winter was more or less a UK summer. Therefore, I failed to pack both a rain coat and a jacket. With one real jumper, and a thin excuse of a jumper, two Primark cardigans and lots of t-shirts, I thought I was prepared.

Swaddled then, in seven top layers, long socks and jeans, I bravely entered the crèche, gingerly hopping over the spooling mud pool that had transformed into the welcome mat; having only one pair of trainers and two sandals, I could literally not afford to get my feet wet. The poor weather had created a poor turnout in the usual bursting crowd of children that I am normally confronted with. Yet the cries were still as loud as ever. So breathing, I said to myself – although you can’t speak isiZulu, they say music is a universal language – so play on.

Guitar out, capo on, loud voice at the ready, hacking cough kept to a minimum, I began. It is incredible, the power music has to captivate children’s attention. How creative you can be. With pretty much the chords, Em, C, G, D, Am and F in my repertoire (once in a while dropping a dodgy strummed C#m for luck), basic children’s songs and worship songs mutated into new chants. Throw in some dead chords and a regular tap on the body of the guitar and you have a drum beat, which means rhythm, which means dancing.

Although the children didn’t take part in their usual activities of painting and puzzles, and considering the appalling weather, the outside wasn’t even a near possibility, they got themselves into a neat train (stimela) so we could sing ‘Shoshloza’, before switching into Ageko o Fana no Jesu. And when my voice caught that didn’t stop them. Every song in my repertoire and then some was used, and the children came alive inside of it. Dancing, clapping, involving their teachers, playing games, eating quietly, talking quietly. Where cacophony normally shrouds the crèche, a serene peace was being spooled out at the strum of a few metal strings.

All children need is a but of stimulation, something exciting, creative, something new, and it opens up the world of possibilities that waits outside their wire fence, for them.

Prayer for Day 18: That as the Drop in Centre crèche grows and the teachers excel in their teaching skills, new and innovative ways of inspiring the children would be revealed. That the world of possibilities would enter the crèche and brighten their lives. That more music would find a way into education systems the world the over.

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#171~ The Hunger Moment

I have been subject to a voracious appetite. It can, at times,  be insatiable, devouring every thought, every memory, corroding, eroding, digesting and excreting anything that does not wish to conform to its prescribed dietary requirement. But this  specialised menu doesn’t contain food. Yes, tangible nourishment and nutrients are vital aspects of my life, and not eating properly can be a genuine source of angst, but this is a creative appetite. The kind that causes the mental glands to begin salivating when the scent of an idea arouses excitement. As you hope for an occasion, a scenario to come to fruition, it becomes a hunger moment. You’re literally hungering for it, and the more you desire, imagine, dream about the scenario the more it morphs, mutates, is extrapolated and reintegrated into something spectacular.

So the day when the occasion does occur, what do you do? Reality and fantasy draw closely together until for a short moment you suffer from double vision. Anticipating the voice on the other end of a phone call, the sound of music, those particular words. Or waiting for the gunshot, the pelt of concrete under thick-soled shoes, till it’s like a softness, the earth acquiring the same consistency as a burnt marshmallow. When you bite down, the glands that are drooling with a creative, day-dreaming anticipation, are jerked back, the bit of reality catching early.

It’s almost anticlimactic. That hunger moment. Yet it’s reassuring, reminding you of the imposing power of your creative faculties, but the ease of reality.

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#132 ~ Hot Chocolate Ideas

When you get an idea, if it’s potent enough, it infects you like a virus which rapidly mutates in order to evade capture, annihilation, the cessation of its existence. Conscious that there are no anti or prebiotics that can alleviate such a situation, wisdom tells you to succumb. As you inhale the froth that licks the sides of your quaint hot-chocolate glass flute and muse about the next year, a squinted eye fixed on the ticking hands of the clock, the cogs start to jar and jut into place, and your mind embraces the fermenting concept.

I’m still struggling to understand my subject, to understand how to analyse, write and express my ideas. Yet, while I regularly moan about it, clutch at my hair, have self-pitying crying sessions and crawl into my bed at 4 a.m after attempting to read enough to present something called an essay, I have learnt to also embrace the parts of my subject I enjoy. Perhaps I’m not yet a critic, but I am creative. What better way to remember what you love than by doing what you love.

So my fiendish hot chocolate friends have infected me with the idea of not only writing a play, but putting on a separate play next year as well as creating, presenting and producing (god willing) my own late-night niche poetry show. To combine Slam-Poetry with Spoken Word, seductive jazz music and international, obscure, marginalised, political, social and just beautiful global poetry. Sounds like a huge task, but that’s a part of English literature I love.

Hopefully the people who give me permission to do this and the training to learn  how  will also be quickly bitten by the creative compulsion mosquito which has expertly impregnated my brain with poetic-malaria compulsion.

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#77 ~ La belle époque

What makes one fall in love with literature, with art, with music, is not necessarily something tangible, something pervasive or even apparent. Instead its the evocation of an essence, the whiff of a smell we can no longer find and which we only identify with through the sprawling mass of ink on a page. It takes form subtly, slowly, and draws upon the recesses of our minds, the desires of our imaginations as its process of incarnation solidifies.

For me, I was caught within an era when women rode horses bareback across uncultivated fields, a dry wind whipped our faces, and callused hands knew the hilt of a sword, as a mother knows her child. There was a simplicity, a ferocity and something deeply magical about that belle époque. I could smell the sweat and blood, taste the fresh grass as it danced through the sharp, dry air and I felt the soft pulse of magic that whispered through the eaves of bowed trees.

For others, it is the brash sound of a trumpet as it sways through a piano medley whilst finely dressed women Charleston across a polished dance floor, fascinators shaking, sequins spraying coloured lights across a 1920’s ballroom.

At times the blurred streaks of paint that turn canvass into poetry capture our lethargic eyes. The shimmer of water creeping under splayed lily pads taunt our concretised minds; we can even hear the cooling breeze as it ruffles the weeping willow’s gracefully arched head, shaking tears of pearly raindrops over the noon-day sky.

The arts draw us in like an intoxicated lover revealing all her wonders. They drape elegantly jewelled hands over our hearts and tease out our desires, our fantasies, the worlds we wished we lived in and often wrote, sang or drew ourselves into. And that is what is so beautiful about their power.

They give us a respite from the present which we always try to erase away, yet which they are forever hungering after like unsatisfied children with an unquenchable thirst. They remind us what it feels like to be alive, and when we finally resign ourselves to the notion, the knowledge, the realisation and acceptance that we cannot inhabit that beautiful era, they give us new eyes to see the beauty of our own.

We in turn transform the present into tomorrow’s fantasy, and inside its enveloping folds, find the fading taints of the old.

(Inspired by Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris)

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#54 ~ Rise

Rising above the currents of self-inflicted inadequacy

Coasting on the crests of ludicrous imaginativity

Day-dreaming into present oblivion

Until far away i find me

At 6.15, rolling on the shores

of my own creativity

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