A couple of weeks ago, ThundaFund in conjunction with the Arts & Culture Trust and Nedbank hosted the Flying House Performing Arts Stock Exchange, an event that was in the same fashion as trading floors at stock exchanges. At least in the way The Wolf of Wall Street depicted them, sans drugs and indiscriminate sex (the alcohol was not flowing as in the screenplay but we had our fill). It was a wet evening, pissing with rain, but the venue, Museum of Africa in Newtown, Johannesburg, was bustling. Attendants were everywhere, doing the most, playing along to the performing arts stock exchange. The currency: their craft.
There were creatives, mostly. Thespians, writers, directors, producers, artists, musicians, idea generators, speakers. Each attendant would list five different crafts they would like to trade, either in exchange with other expertise or at an agreed cost. Each listed craft would be equivalent to a certain cost, decided upon by the owner. It was chaotic from the outside, but when you started trading, it made a lot of sense. It was an invaluable opportunity to meet other creatives, collaborate with them or even get hired.
Some reps from the sponsors were present and a number of artists had to make lightning speed pitches for funding. These were passionate artists and creators, and a number of them walked away with smiles. The kind of support they received is rare – it ought to be more commonplace in the arts. But that’s a story for another day.
In all of this beautiful craziness, there was a man on a chair, typing away on a pristine typewriter. I am very partial to typewriters. I learnt how to type on one and for a while, my mom would have me type letters in front of her friends just to show off. Any child will know how good it feels to be that child. Years later, a friend sort of gifted me an old typewriter from her attic. I love it. I have used it sparingly. I have this recurring romantic day-dream of retreating to the coast somewhere, and typing up a number of books on this archaic machine.
I was interested, so I walked over to him and chatted briefly. “Bobby Gordon,” he said, taking a short pause from the typewriter and extending his hand. Little did I know I had interrupted him mid-performance. We talked about mutual interests: performing arts and words. I shared my love for James Baldwin and Toni Morrison indiscriminately, especially my favourite works from both authors, Giovanni’s Room and The Bluest Eye. With a chuckle he promised to type up a poem.I thought he was joking and I walked away. About 15 minutes later, he had typed up a poem based on our conversation. Below is my reading of it:
I awake in Giovanni’s Room as the bald beauty of James’ words twist themselves around me.
At times whispering, at times shouting, telling me what to feel, which way to lean.
It is the realest of dreams, James
I feel you ghost-writing the story of my tear-filled days.
You are the bluest why, behind my bluest eye
You are the blank page beckoning more son
Find the Morrison of Mondays the Toni on Tuesdays
You’re the intellectual candlelight I use to feel the marrow of my moments
You are survival in a suit,
A man the system never meant to succeed,
Standing atop the podium with a raised fist…
Despite the years, and your death, I see you through the mist.
How beautiful is that?
As it turns out, Bobby is part of a consortium of poets he co-founded, Melrose Poetry Bureau based in Los Angeles in the United States. My brief chat with him revealed that he would be open to performing while he is here, which I think is a couple of months on a project with Wits. Interested parties can hit him up here>>> and here>>> . I think he’d be great to hire for events, activations and festivals.
For more information on ThundaFund and the Flying House Performing Arts Stock Exchange, check their website here>>>.