Standing in front of a crowded room under a coloured spotlight, a woman clad in electric red belts out a litany of poems. Her words lament the proliferation of poverty, prejudice and destruction, in a voice emboldened by conviction and carrying hope. Looking like a lounge singer as she clutches the mic and sways to the backtracks she’s chosen for her set, the wonderful Allison-Claire Hoskins dominates the stage with her charisma and colour at the first InZync Poetry Session of 2013.
The crowd that gathered on the warm February evening encouragingly cheered her on, as she guided them through Africa with her words. Wandering prosaically from the red soils of Kenya to the urban melee of Yeoville, and all the way into the heart of a woman, Allison’s performance proved that her knack for poetry has certainly developed and evolved since she last graced the InZync stage. Allison combined her act with a variety of different music styles, from Tracy Chapman to deep house, riling up the audience and setting a lyrical tone for the rest of the night. Hosted by SLiP and sponsored by the impress. English Society, InZync was well and truly launched in February.
Although the night’s second act, Niko10 Long slightly lost the audience during a screening of a documentary that he had filmed, the crowd was again brought to life as he performed on stage. Speaking in rapid-fire Afrikaaps and sporting an impressive head of dreadlocks, Niko10 Long’s cautionary tales, warning of the dangers of substance abuse and unprotected sex, were surprising in juxtaposition to his gangsta-like appearance. Taking the audience on an imaginative tour of Wesbank and introducing them to the benefits of Rastafarianism mixed in with hip-hop, Niko10 Long performed a set that joltingly grabbed and confronted audience members’ views and perspectives. His poetry speaks of victimhood of society and criminal violence as it oppresses the nation.
In the brief interval, O’Ryan Winter, clutching his guitar to his chest and warbling out pitch-perfect tune after tune, held the audience spellbound even as they enjoyed the eats and drinks on offer at the AmaZink Eatery, home of InZync. His captivating voice and skill on the strings aptly lead into the third featured act of the night.
After the break, NativeRefugee took to the stage. Comprised of the talented Bengali Hlubi Rengqe on the bass, and the handsome Mfundo Ntobongwana as front man, NativeRefugee had most of the women in the venue blushing and smiling coyly, as they crooned out love poems and spoke heartfelt poems of familial affection and artistic difference. The pair had the room in the palm of their outstretched hands, as Mfundo’s poetry interwove with Bengali’s mellifluous strumming. The audience, though calmer than during other acts nevertheless expressed unbridled appreciation for the words. Grinning broadly after a generous helping of applause, Mfundo commented: “The love in here is insane.”
I’d say that if you’re looking for a reason to attend the Inzync Poetry Sessions in March, you need look no further. Add a few fantastic open mic performances to the already copious list of compelling reasons, and being absent is surely not an option! February saw the skill of the likes of old-favourite Voicemail, and new dynamic duo Divhi Mulaudzi and Merly Skota, who rocked the stage with their slick and entertaining hip-hop performances. Other acts such as the League of Shadows, Claude van Wyk and Palesa Selai were also the recipients of bountiful appreciation from the crowd. March, I'm sure, holds even greater delights.