Spotlight on Ivan : Behind Ink Overflow’s Art & Poetry

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I was recently interviewed by LaMusicJunkie and it’s my favorite interview yet. Have a read and get to know me.

LaMusicJunkie

I still remember the first time I met him. It was at a cool school event last year called the Frequency. He was battling it out in front of an excited crowd with another poet, who I hadn’t met before either. While he spat clever English lines, his opponent went local with Swahili punch lines.

The other guy won. I’ve never seen him again.

Ivan, however, has become a constant face.

Ivan drawing by Kaatoony

Through @kaatoony’s eyes

Last week I got to meet the 26-year-old artist from Burundi (again). He’s lived most of his life in Kenya, followed by Tanzania. East Africa is his home, he affirmed.

As a poet, he’s written on and off since he was eleven. That is until he discovered performance poetry at Kwani Open Mic in February 2014. Since then he’s been consistent for the last 3 and ½ years.

Ivan Irakoze has become a familiar name in…

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Beauty

Poetry

A piece written and performed for the April 8th, 2017 edition of Art & Poetry.

 

You first see it in the eyes of a mother

As she holds her newborn after 17 hours of labor.

You then see it in the tears of a father.

A man who until then had known more about loss than miracles.

You hear it in the words they both speak.

Overjoyed yet still slightly in disbelief.

 

From then on you experience it every day.

From the confusion on their faces

To the smiles they put on even though you won’t let them sleep.

Before too long, you find it in another.

Another who looks like you.

Same blood, same big head, but you’re still the cuter one though.

 

Throughout your early years, you feel it in everything.

From the places you visit to the people you meet.

You even see it on your father’s face

That time you somehow burn yourself with boiling hot water

And he’s there looking at you like, “You messed up didn’t you?”

 

Or that other time you break your arm

And you see your mom’s tears as she prays to God like,

“What type of child am I raising,

Who thinks he can run across a wire

From one end to another

And not fall and break something?”

Anyway, you’re a stupid clumsy kid,

And you’ve got the scars to prove it.

 

You soon find it in girls.

Your first crush.

This Ebony skinned, funny, pretty young thing.

You know she’s your first crush because

She’s the one you miss most

When you move to another country.

Here.

 

A few years later you experience it

Throughout this 3-hour long conversation

You have with this total stranger.

She too is a pretty young thing.

She turns out to be your first muse.

The one you first write a love poem about.

 

A year after that, you see it in this friend of yours.

You’d swear this feeling you have is love

Even though it’s not reciprocated and never will be.

That escalated quickly.

 

Throughout your teen years, you live it through wild and crazy nights.

Some nights you don’t remember.

Like this one night you ended up with a Diana Ross wig on your head

And you have no idea how that happened.

And now you wish you hadn’t said anything

Because you know someone’s gonna find a picture

Of that night and make a meme out of it.

Poor choices, fam. Poor choices.

 

At 20, you find it in someone who feels the same way you do.

Someone who finally reciprocates.

Someone who falls in love with you.

You see it throughout everything you two go through.

Every high, every low.

 

You try to find it 4 years later after you two break up.

And you eventually do.

You move on, not forgetting the good times you had,

And hoping you find it in someone else again.

 

Now throughout this time,

You find it in finding your purpose.

You find it in art.

You start to believe you’re pretty decent with a pen

And well, your voice fly too you know.

 

You see it in the friends you work and chase your dreams with.

You see it in the friends you make in your 20s.

Some friends you try and convince to name their babies after you.

And others you meet every week at a top-secret,

Not so top-secret location

Where you share uji, chai, mandazis, you name it!

 

But most of all you share time.

You share experiences.

Friends. All these friends become family.

Good choices, fam. Good choices.

 

And finally you come to experience it in a room.

This room.

A room filled with faces you know and faces you don’t.

Making you feel oh so special.

 

For more than 26 years, I have seen, felt, heard, and experienced ‘it’.

‘It’ is beauty.

For 26+ years, beauty has surrounded me.

And for that I am grateful, and I always will be.

Curves, Form & Movement

Poetry

I knew it the moment we touched,

The moment we first connected.

I knew right there and then how we’d end up.

You on top, seemingly motionless

Yet floating on a different plain.

Me on the ground, breathless

From the sheer thrill of it all.

 

I can never forget that night.

How it felt when I caressed your curves.

How I felt when I hit it just right.

Your form, our movements, everything just right.

My body dripping in sweat,

The cold breeze passing through as I moved in.

Everything. Just. Right.

 

When I saw you, saw my chance,

I knew I had to take it.

Now yes, you were not my first,

And you were not the only one.

Yes I’d already done it with others before,

And yes I did it with others after you.

Sometimes, most times, multiple times a day.

 

And yes, I have had others that felt good.

But you

You are still

The most

Beautiful

Free-kick I ever took.

Top of the corner, left the keeper shook.

6 Thoughts That Go Through The Mind Of A Single Poet Performing on V-day

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How it feels to be single and perform on Valentine’s day

Ink Overflow

It’s that time of year again, couples get all lovey-dovey; malls get filled with hearts and the word ‘LOVE’ every-frikin’-where; guys lose their minds and wallets trying to please their significant others; social media is awash with ‘Happy V-day’ posts; and there seem to be a thousand-and-one events themed around this ‘special’ day. So you’ve probably been single around this time of year at least a couple of times in your life, but have you ever thought about what it’s like to be single and performing in front of couples at events on V-day? Here are a few thoughts that have gone through my mind on such days.

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Roses & Violets

Poetry

Roses are red,

Violets are blue,

And I hate poems that start like this

Because they can’t do justice

To how I feel about you.

Corny and generic lines

Could never describe

The feelings I hold inside.

Endless hours and sleepless nights

Contemplating on a future that’d be ours

Are never mentioned in such poems.

They never state how much my mind urges me to write

At the oddest of times

Of two fates forever intertwined,

And two souls destined to become one,

As two sets of lips engage in true love’s first kiss.

You would be mine and I would be yours.

In a world flawed and filled with imperfections,

Together we would be the exception.

As our lips meet, all else would cease to exist.

In that moment you and I would know pure bliss,

You and I would think back to these words,

And you and I would dance to this verse.

In that moment you and I would form a whole new universe.

So as you read these words,

Know that I stand here and wait.

For roses are red

And violets are blue,

But our love would be an unbelievable hue.