Let’s get to know one of our NWU family members. Lesego Motlhankane, a third-year BEd student on the North-West University’s (NWU’s) Potchefstroom Campus, recently published an anthology of Setswana poetry titled Pitsana ya Poko.
The book of poetry, a collaboration between Lesego and renowned author Kabelo Kgatea, consists of 40 poems and is published by Nick Medupe Productions and Publishers and the Penebotshelo Writers Foundation.
We chat with Lesego about his writing process, his inspiration, and the mature-ish quality of his current poems.
Congratulations on your poetry anthology, Pitsana ya Poko. What inspired your love of poetry?
I usually draw inspiration from many places, including the work of other writers and their own lives.
Pitsana ya Poko started after you won first prize in the Setswana category of the 2020 Avbob Poetry Project. Firstly, congratulations on that. Secondly, how has this competition and its theme influenced the anthology?
My first poem being published under AVBOB Poetry Project, especially in a publication of this magnitude, is reason enough for me to believe I am a good poet and that my work is worthy of being read.
You are studying to become a teacher. Do you draw inspiration from these experiences?
Teaching is one of the most direct ways to make an impact, and I’m driven by the desire to help those around me, being a teacher is an invaluable contribution.
We are seeing a renaissance period for poetry. Where do you see yourself within it?
We live imperative moments of black art because we live important moments of black life. What’s been exciting for me is I get to absorb and to live in that creation I see from other South African artists that I look up to.
What was the hardest poem for you to write in Pitsana ya Poko? Why?
In general, the hardest one for me was a heroic crown of sonnets. “Bogosi”, a simple crown of sonnets I wrote.
Poetry sometimes gets a bad rap – people think it’s stuffy. How do you think we can make poetry accessible and cool, especially for a young audience?
According to my perspective, you must choose poems that enhance and extend the curriculum, reinforce reading and writing skills, encourage community and understanding, and discuss topics that children can relate to and understand.
What is the most difficult part of your artistic process?
For me, the most difficult part of my writing process is that I have so many ideas going through my head it’s difficult to stick onto one project long enough to finish it.
Where do you draw inspiration – and are you inspired by artists working in other forms?
As I look back, I think that my poetry when I was younger reflected many things such as wonder, angst, transformation… showing that I was trying to figure out and understand and relate to the world around me. Now, as I’ve grown older, the work is more reflective and hopefully, some of the pieces show the wisdom of age. There is a mature-ish quality that indicates growth and acceptance.
The NWU is home to some great South African authors. Do you draw inspiration from that? How do you think it influences your work?
The Academic Literacy modules of the NWU offer an opportunity to bridge the gap between high school and university in terms of academic literacy requirements and will put me on the right track towards academic and professional success.
What is your writing Kryptonite?
My biggest struggle is trying to incorporate showing rather than telling into the story in a compelling and dynamic way.
What one thing would you give up to be a better writer?
Procrastination (Don’t we all? Read our tips to beat procrastination here.)
- Lesego is a member of the National Writers Association of South Africa and the Penebotshelo Writers Foundation and plans to enrol for an honours degree in Setswana once he completes his undergraduate studies at the NWU.
- Read more here: https://news.nwu.ac.za/nwu-student-and-poet-shines-setswana