Wednesday, 19 February 2014

BEARING WITNESS: Word stylist A-dziko Simba savours the thrills of the life artistic

WOMAN OF HER WORD: Simba (left), with Amina Blackwood-Meeks at the UTech launch of her debut novel in Oct. 2013.

"Over 50 and loving it,"A-dziko Simba Gegele quips laughingly when the subject of her age comes up during our conversation at Sunday's breezy Arts in the Park at Devon House, where the poetess and published author was among the featured acts. In person, Simba (a product of both the British and Jamaican traditions) comes across as very grown-up indeed and effusively warm and speaks with the refined measured tone of someone raised on lambs and literature. 

She brings that same sort of intellect to her work, be it the spoken form (she's a fierce dub-poetry performer, who released a CD dubbed Crazy Lady Days) or the written word (her efforts include the well-received debut novel All Over Again). And there's more where that came from, she tells TALLAWAH. "I'm working on a couple of other books, and the follow-up CD is long overdue," she says, "but they probably won't be released until next year of the year after that." 

TALLAWAH: How do you define yourself as an artist? 
Simba: I see myself primarily as a writer and a performer, but I like to bleed into other areas. Theatre is one of them. Storytelling as well. 

You have quite a "laffly" accent. Tell me a bit about your roots. 
I was born in England to a Jamaican mother, my father is Nigerian. And I've been living here for almost 16 years now. 

Prof. Edward Baugh once asked, What is poetry for? How do you respond to such a question? 
It's for many things. It's for testifying. It's for the opportunity to witness, the opportunity to heal, the opportunity to speak the truth and say things that maybe would not be acceptable in any other form. 

What do you do when you're not writing? 
Thinking about writing (Laughs). 

Your poetry is a blend of the earthy and the eccentric. How do you strike a balance among the different styles you bring to your work? 
I really like to push the boundaries, but I don't like to confine myself to a particular genre. I don't want to say I'm a dub poet, but I like doing dub poetry. I don't want to say I'm avant-garde, but I like to do avant-garde stuff. I don't want to say I'm jazz, but I like doing jazz. I like experimenting and trying to find ways of blending things that maybe traditionally don't go together.

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