Artists story A BOOK: A TREASURE by Philips Akwari
Nigeria | 05.09.2020
Marina Chichava defines herself as a “reclusive performer” in that she loves getting inspired and writing something new whenever her heart desires: “I have always been a fan of poetry and music, but I tend to do it only when I enjoy it. I guess I’ve never wanted it to become work”.
In the mid-2000s, Marina was quite active in performing around Cape Town and Maputo, and playing at venues and festivals in South Africa, Swaziland and Mozambique with the band “The Rocats”, and later on with the “Gravity Regulators”. Eventually, she represented Mozambique in a Slam Poetry contest in Reunion Island.
Over the last few years, she’s been involved in poetry and fashion collaboration with a local brand called “Xipixi”, ran by designer António Macheve. Through another collaboration on the album of local hip-hop artist Simba, he discovered Marina’s poetry and asked her to collaborate on two of Xipixi’s shows in Johannesburg where models walked to poetry blended into jazz, blues and hip-hop tunes.
How is your process of creation?
I’ve been writing since I can remember and I’ve always been visual. Even in telling an event, I treat it like a series of episodes, where I have to set the stage, give character backgrounds and add all kinds of entertainment. I believe I approach my writings the same way. Even in a few lines or words, I always choose to tell a story. However, I mostly write when prompted. I like inspiration to come naturally, and whenever I find it, I follow it. Once the idea is on the page, it’s a matter of writing, re-writing, polishing and reaching a point where I feel I can share it.
Has your art changed during quarantine?
At the moment I’m all about putting energy into helping my country and those I love during these tough times. And so much is being re-defined that for the first time I realised that it’s okay to not have all the answers. Anyways, I hadn’t been feeling very inspired till, a few weeks ago, I was invited to “Subverse Talks”, hosted by my friend Amarildo Valeriano, regarding poetry in quarantine. So I pulled out a poem I’d been working on and joined the conversation. My soul remained heavy until I started to hear how people are dealing all over the world, in Russia, Switzerland, Germany, South Africa, Italy, and it truly inspired me into feeling better about a lack of inspiration. I don’t know if I will have any quarantine poems coming through, but I’m in a much better head-space than I was before that conversation: I’ve started to write again.
What poetry is for you?
I don’t know if I can define it yet. I think I’m still trying to figure this one out. At the moment, I relate to it as a way to be myself and to release my inner demons. Moreover, it allows me to navigate the world, to offer my voice and speak up as a black African woman, to show that we all have creative, diverse and amazing stories to share.
In your opinion, is art an essential need?
Art is as simple as telling a story. But, as brutal as therapy, in it is deeply personal. To this day I still don’t share a lot of what I write because it represents a window over my soul. And I’m not sure I want to be out there so bare. I think art in all shapes and form is necessary for humanity – with its beauty, sadness, wonder, pain, faith – to be expressed. For this very reason, we’re all artists in some way. However, society nowadays controls what is considered to be good and bad art, and in a way here we fall short: we can’t escape it, yet we categorise it and force it into a discipline. Instead, Art is life and freedom.