Exclusive interview by O Bolaji
BOLAJI: You have done very well to establish yourself as a powerful female poet in the Free State. How did your love for this genre (poetry) start?
JAH ROSE: well it kinda started even before I realised...Bareng Dichaba was the one who actually un-blinded me to say what you’ve been writing is actually poetry, so I was excited to find out that I'm a poet and never looked back. That was back in early 2000.
You have performed/read your impressive poetry at many occasions. Can you tell us about some of these events?
Mostly at home - I perform at are governmental events, to sharing my writings at poetry sessions around, in and out of South Africa...there is nothing more thrilling than being at an event full of art and artists themselves, so poetry festivals have become my church - that’s how much I have dedicated myself to my work.
Allied to this, what would you say was your greatest moment as a poet?
I have so many very beautiful moments as a growing poet... I have met kings and queens through my gift as a writer, I have crossed seas and borders, rivers and mountains, I have and continue to travel the world through my art, so this is one call I’m glad I never missed, for it is a calling.
South Africa is blessed with a crop of powerful female poets. Which ones of them do you admire most, and why?
I love Napo Masheane mainly because I can hear her, I adore Mme Myesha as well thanks to pacofs we have worked together on so many occasions and she is a mother figure artistically so, she is a sweetheart.
In the Free State, how would you describe the awareness of women as regards poetry at grassroots level? What can be done to sensitise even more women to relish poetry?
Fortunately I am a field worker, so I work with most artists especially upcoming poets...so I know for sure that the culture is booming a lot compared to the last five years...and there is real talent out...people who have the ability to tell their generational stories and write tomorrow's history. to women/’wemen’ poetry is a weapon of self discovery, self development and self empowerment and beyond anything else it is a self creation to...you work on sculpting your craft until you shape it to what you want, who you want and anything else that you want out of life,,, so if you have the spirit of writing in you...use it.
Obviously, you have read anthologies, books of poetry published by South Africans – by the likes of Don Mattera, Mongane Serote, Vonani Bila, Lebo Mashile etc. Which of any of these books are you likely to read again?
It will be Napo's - like I said I hear that woman too much, Lindiwe Mabuza and Ntate Don Mattera - he is also very clear in what he wants to say and he is not afraid. You feel it as you go through his work. I love simplicity, so they do it for me.
Internationally, who are the poets that have impressed you most?
I love Asa from Nigeria, I love...''why is it that when Lauren comes from the Hills of India she's always Arie''; for me these ladies sing their poetry.
I understand you are set to publish your first book of poetry. How will you describe the collection?
Yes it is true, I'm hoping to launch it in August this year for it is finished and by the way looking for a publisher, it is called ROOTED FROM THE HEART!, It is an intro of me to the world of literature , who and what I'm about...the high's and he low's, the fears and vulnerability, joys and peacefulness, aspirations and admirations of young woman and how she views and has experienced her environment, emotionally, spiritually, politically and all other ‘cally's’! Basically how I found myself through art and poetry as it has become huge part of me, all these are reflected in this compilation. Thank you…
•This Interview first appeared in Free State News (2010) Jah Rose’s book, Rooted from the Heart has since been launched with fanfare