Mphutlane wa Bofelo is a poet, social activist and essayist who’s work is infused with Black Consciousness, Sufism and Socialist Humanist. These influences make his work rich with personal and public textures. He has published six collections of poetry including The Way of Love and The River that Returns to Me as well as numerous essays published in journals and online publications.
Book Lover’s Market: You have published a number of poetry collections, why do you keep publishing poetry when people keep saying “poetry doesn’t sell” and “no one reads poetry”?
Mphutlane wa Bofelo: It is about interrogating and exploring my dreams and nightmares, sorrows and joys hopes and fears, ideas and madness; sharing with humanity and contributing to the rich history, heritage and legacy of literature in Azania, Africa and the world than about selling anything.
The claim that poetry does not sell and the suggestion that no one reads poetry are just blue lies told to hide the real reasons why poetry gives the establishment a fright.
BLM: How different is your latest collection, The Way of Love, from your previous books?
MB: I think the work of a writer and any artist must simultaneously reflect consistencies and inconsistences, common threads and disjunctures; movement and grounding. I pray I was able to achieve this in The Way of Love; and The River that Returns to Me and all my other titles.
I will I leave it to readers and the critics to say something about any progression and stagnation in my work. The work must speak for itself. My work is to write. Let readers and critics get the book and say what they hear feel.
BLM: What one thing, in each of your books would you say captures your spirit or character?
MB: Unassuming, unpretentious love; manifesting itself in different forms.
BLM: What advice would you give aspiring writers?
MB Read voraciously, as broad and widely as you can, and get information and knowledge as much as possible, especially on the themes and issues you want to explore. In all spaces in the world – the internet, the street, the toilet, the shebeen, the shop floor, the boardroom, the pavement and the subway there is some material, some (re)source that can be of some use. Most importantly look deep within, seek for your inner voice. Talk with yourself as often and as earnest as you can, and speak to yourself as frank as you can.