Frenetic platform for poetry
From creating a cultural space that allows their contemporaries to be socially conscious to creating history, Frenetic Arts is on a mission to take Barbadian spoken word to the international stage.
This past July, the quartet, made up of Nicholas “Nec” Boyce, Cyndi “Cyndi M” Marshall, T’afari Steed and Akeem “Stoned With Cupid” Chandler-Prescod, became the first Bajan act to grace the stage of the Vrystaat Arts Festival in South Africa.
Vrystaat is an Afrikaans language festival that forges creative connections with English and Sotho cultures.
Now having a taste of the possibilities and their art exposed to more than 150 000 people who attended the festival over the six days, the four youths are even more confident about breaking whatever glass ceiling they need to, so that they can fulfil their dreams.
Cyndi, who spoke on behalf of the collective, told Buzz the South Africa trip was one of their most critical experiences. It allowed them to learn about the importance of interaction with different kinds of artistes, nationalities and genres, how they do things and how this can assist them as they develop their own art.
“In South Africa, there seems to be a lot more opportunities for performance poets than here in Barbados, and one of those things that they did was they had a collaboration between spoken word poets/performance poets and visual artists where they curated a virtual reality show.
“ . . . You could use your phone camera to roll over the picture and you would hear the spoken word poet’s voice as you saw whatever movement happened inside the picture.
“It was interesting because it showed me how to integrate spoken word with other art forms. Maybe we thought about doing it with music and even dance but not necessarily as much with visual arts and I thought that was very interesting,” she said.
Cyndi added that through connections with the international and regional poetry scenes they intend to diversify the narratives they are exposed to.
“The African narrative is not something [we are] accustomed to unless it comes out of the United States. So, trying to create opportunities to travel to other performance arts festivals for poets has become a very important part of what Frenetic Arts wants to do,” she said.
The collective also plans to create more diversified platforms for other artistes.
Frenetic Arts hosts a Poetry Lime, which is a developmental open mic night that encourages up-and-coming artistes at any stage of their career to “try”. In addition, they want to create spaces that appeal more to fine arts communities so as to have a better range of performing arts.
“The final part of that is that we want to keep forging international partnerships,” said Cyndi.
“Out of the South Africa opportunity we got to interact with artistes from all across the African continent and there are very, very productive collaborations potentially coming out of that. So we want to create relationships with poets not only in far-off places like Africa but in our own backyard in terms of the Caribbean region and even in America, so that we have a comprehensive view of the poetry scene internationally and how we orient ourselves within that realm.
“I think that it is important in the grand scheme of things . . . for young people to know that something like spoken word, even though it is not something that has been as pronounced as other art forms, it gives young people the opportunity to realise that it can take you places other than here.” (SDB Media)