Spoken word artiste Nicole Agneta talks about her craft in poetry

Tuesday, December 15th, 2020 00:00 |
Fashion enthusiast Nicole Agneta talks about her style sense.

Spoken word artiste and model Nicole ‘Cole’ Agneta is contemplating gracing us with a poetry show, but first, devoid of coyness, she shares her thoughts and experiences with Mukanzi Cynthia.

How are you holding up in this pandemic? 

I think I have been handling it pretty well. I’m keeping myself busy with my creative projects and it’s been cool to explore.

I’m a homebody, so it hasn’t destroyed me, but the biggest struggle has been not being able to see my people.

At first, I was one of those people who thought this was the time for creatives to thrive and release content.

It worked for me in the first two weeks and then I just hit a point where I had no ideas and felt incompetent in my own work.

I took a week off, chilled, consumed others work and then started creating again without too much pressure on myself. 

Are those feelings about your work the reason you created Enough, the vulnerable piece of yourself?

I wasn’t having too much trouble with my creativity except for that single week.

And I remember every single time I was struggling with an idea, a concept, piece, shoot or working with a client, I would go on Instagram and see this specific content creator whose posts would make me feel so intimidated.

I felt like my ideas or what I was creating wasn’t enough. I would still celebrate her and question why I felt so challenged by her creativity and felt as if my own could never surpass that. 

Was this poem then born of the affirmation of yourself?

I think I just got on my phone and had a line in my head, and ended up writing Enough.

I wanted to back up the words with a visual representation and also for the sake of exploring different ways of portraying my creativity. I decided to do a video and wasn’t shy about posting it.

Letting it out was healing for me. When I went back to Instagram, I would see other people’s posts and projects and get excited again and not intimidated. 

Have you found yourself forced to define your poetry in a certain way?

I went through an identity crisis with my poetry when I first started performing. I questioned the association of being labelled a romance poet, which didn’t suit me. I don’t like being put in a box.

I feel like “romance poet” is used loosely and seen as a cute easy topic. Because most of our biggest artistes tackle topics relating to political governance, corruption and poverty, there is an expectation of what we create to look a certain way to be considered good or quality.

I decided not to overly focus on what everyone else is doing, but be honest, write from my perspective and understand where it’s coming from. 

How was your first experience of performing on stage?

It was in 2018 at Imarika Festival. I had a good time. They were running behind on time and so they cut down my performance.

It wasn’t a big deal to me, but I realise now a lot of poets go through that, especially if you are at a mixed event where you have poets and musicians.

How do you negotiate payment for your creative worth? 

My poetry started off as a passion and I didn’t even know I could get paid for it.

I was so excited the first time I performed and got paid (even though it wasn’t much), then I realised I could earn a living from doing something I love.

People don’t talk about the money or payment rates so up and coming performers are unaware of how much they are supposed to charge or how much everyone is being paid.

Many poets don’t talk about this and it’s awkward to come up to someone at a show and ask them how much they are getting paid. 

Do you think this is a conversation that’s long overdue?

Sure, the conversation is necessary. The battle is slow moving, but it’s happening. We the poets have talked about this issue.

We could also be fighting about getting paid and knowing our worth and negotiating, but there will always be up and coming poets who are just happy to perform.

Those who don’t even know about pay rates and will start off performing for free or accepting very low amounts. 

Is there a registered body that could lobby for poets in such instances?

If it exists, I haven’t gotten my invitation yet. I think the conversation has definitely picked up since late last year.

There was a slight acknowledgement in the fact that the poetry industry exists and the realisation of its potential.

It’s unfortunate that it’s taking long and it seems like it happens in stages. We have also seen it in the music and film industries. 

Tell us more about your modelling.

I started posting random pictures on Instagram and then a photographer reached out to me asking if we could do a shoot.

We did and it was such a fun experience that led to more afterwards. Other photographers saw the content we were putting out and became interested and would reach out to me for shoots.

I started coming up with concepts for my shoots, being the creative director of the set and eventually taking my own pictures and editing them. My goal is to get on a billboard. 

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