William Shakespeare was in Bulawayo yesterday and he had many voices and personalities. The Shakespeare koBulawayo Poetry Slam roared into life at the National Gallery in the afternoon. The event made possible by Intwasa and British council, kicked off well on time. The slam was divided into 3 stages, with the first two set as freestyles and the third pegged according to the theme of Shakespeare. Poets gracing this year’s event included Farirai, Tinashe Tafirenyika, KeithSwic Da Poet, Just Benjamin, ChurchMusic, Tyra Vanadis, and Lady Tshawe, among others.

The first round was tight with most poets scoring either 23 or 24 of a possible 30. Some of the best pieces in this round came from last year’s co-winner Black Lilly who did a piece titled Cinderella must fall and another from the Matebeleland self-acclaimed best poet ChurchMusic who added some vernacular flavour to his poems. The round ended with KeithSwic and Black Lilly leading at 26 points each. Unfortunately last year’s co winner Farirai was knocked out in the first stage with the second lowest total of 22 and some say it’s attributed to the fact that he was the very first poet to perform and the judges were still stern. The break between stages saw Donna Ncube grace the stage with her drummer for a marvelous performance. The second round was dominated again by Black Lilly who by now had won the hearts of both the crowd and the judges.

Slam Poet: Black Lilly. Photo Creds – Mgcini Nyoni

The most interesting round of them all was the third round which saw poets perform poems inspired by William Shakespeare. The incredible poems all had that touch of Shakespeare sawn into the 21st century. All pieces seemed to glorify Shakespeare or his work except the one performed by Black Lilly (usually named the Angry Poet by any crowd) which challenged the 21st century type of scripting as compared to Shakespeare’s 16th century.  Such was the creativity that drove her to the finals as she got all the 30 points together with Tinashe Tafirenyika, while Asa The Poet came third. However this time she was not going to co-win the slam as the crowd suggested a face-off between the two of them. They both performed free styles and Tinashe Tafirenyika emerged as the winner with a 2 point margin over Black Lilly. The winner went home with $100, the second best with $60, whilst the third best bagged $60.

The slam was also graced by Lady Tshawe who proved why she’s among the best artists ever to grace events. She performed a poem from her book Inscriptions of an Inspired Soul titled ‘When she becomes the I that I meet in me’ (The way I see poetry). The Poets really seem to have evolved from last year and are all working on individual and joint projects. Massive thank you to Intwasa and British council for the event, it was a huge success filled with laughter and finger snaps. Till next time!