Friday, February 5, 2010

A Few Questions for John Akpata...

John Akpata will be raising the temperature at the Solstice Cafe next week on his first visit to the West Coast. It promises to be an uncompromising evening so in that spirit, we asked him a few probing questions...

ToF: Nobody likes labels, but if you had to label yourself as an artist, what would it be? Poet? Performer? Spoken Word Artist? Slam Poet? Why?

I consider myself first and foremost to be a poet. A poet that is a performer, spoken word artist, and musician. It is my words that have driven my artistic machine; musicians work with me because of my words; it is my words that have the most amount of power.

ToF: You've traveled to the DR and Jamaica and Nigeria in the last year. Tell us what forms spoken word is taking there and how your travels have influenced your work.

Nigeria / Jamaica showed me the roots of the tradition up close and personal. DR showed me the same but in Spanish. I am following the tradition of the Griot, not just an entertainer. All of my travels have given me more fire, more vision, and more reach.

As a member of the Marijuana Party of Canada, you've run in three federal elections so far. What place does poetry, and your poetry specifically, hold in the political arena?

Politicians are terrified of me because I speak the truth. I do research, I have facts and statistics, I make a few jokes, and I drop some poetry (powerful word play and speech) whenever and wherever I can. In the last election I wrote a poem for the Marijuana Party TV commercial, which was a success.

What's the next poetry-related goal you want to fulfill?

My next goal is to 'arrive' internationally. Opening for Linton Kwesi Johnson in Scotland will be a huge moment for me. I hope to launch my own website, finish my live CD, and start being a successful artist, as opposed to a starving artist.

ToF: What is the poem you haven't written yet? You know, the poem that you aspire to write.

The poems that I have not yet written are words for my mother and father - I do not think they are ready yet, but I will have to do that as quickly as I can.

What are the subjects that are really inspire / engage you?

Politics and the war against fuckry are what keeps me going. That and love.

ToF: And now the (obligatory) ice-cream question: what flavour is your poetry?

My poetry is fire flavour. Spicy with a hint of sweet - but never bitter.

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