From Page to Performance

From Page to Performance


August’s poetry page sees a selection of poems from Mahali Isaac, an intern of 16 years who recently spent time working at KCW Today. Poetry is a complex animal. It requires the ability to interact and describe feelings and experiences that are often complex and confusing at any age. Part of the challenge is to filter these experiences down to series of fundamental truths, to analyse the causes and effects, and make some sense of the impression they leave behind in words and meter. Then there is the processes of condensing these experiences down, over and over, and into a coherent, yet object message. What strikes the reader about Mahalia’s poems is that they appear to represent a new era in the making of verse. Here within lies a musicality behind words that is becoming the signature tune of a new generation of writers.

In recent years, we have seen poetry return to an oral tradition that favours poetical improvisation as means of expression. We are revisiting the power of the live performance as a means of delivering lyrical song. In part this could suggest that poetry is looking back nostalgically across its shoulder to its ancient roots. Yet, on the other hand, it seems the art form has embraced a new world of noise and theatre, continually looking to modernise and be inclusive of different classes and cultures, to incorporate different art forms into the genre. Perhaps the most popular choices are music and theatre. While, the ancient Greeks had the amphitheatre, modern poetry is fed to an audience through YouTube, Poetry Cafes and Slam Sessions. Poetry has become staged and verse lifted from the page into performance. It is here that a new next generation of poets have found their artistic expression and the means to challenge the poetic conventions that have gone before.  Arguably, this is purpose of Poetry and what keeps the art form exciting and to be celebrated.

1) IDENTITY:By Mahali Isaac

Somewhere in a soul, true identity lies,

Untouched, unknown to the human eye,

In our hearts, in our culture, in our race, deep within,

You see what you can see, but search my soul, see where I’ve been.

Where I have been delivered from, by some amazing grace,

You may think that you understand, but only I can take the mask from my face,

Then you will see, my potential of reaching dreams,

Being all I can be.

Two identities, external, internal, down to the bone,

One may be happy, the other alone, you never know,

Look deep within yourself, oh! Deep serenity,

When one finds, their true identity.

2) FAKE: By Mahali Isaac

I am the person behind the screen,

The one who cannot and will not be seen,

The one you speak to everyday,

I know everything about you, your habits and traits,

You tell me everything, never leave me to guess,

You tell me how you think your life is a mess,

Your mother’s too controlling and your father’s lost his way,

And you listen and believe me whenever I say:

“I love you, I will never forget you, I miss you”

You are impressionable and tracking you is easy to do,

When you are so in love which one will you choose,

So you don’t lose…me.

Me? I know I am doing wrong,

But talking to someone like you is fun,

You see me in the street, you pass me by,

You don’t know me, you know the 18 year old, guy. Who helps you get by.

You do not recognise, my disguise, my lies.

So cunningly wise.

I creep into your heart,

In there I make my home, down to the bone,

I stay, in here, I am secure,

You never see me and my strange flaws,

To you, I am perfect, utterly amazing,

Strangely fascinating, staggeringly dazing.


My mask is one that you cannot see,

Look a little closer, what do you see, do you still believe?

Yes, you believe still! Forever, I am so sly,

Stare, be aware, but still, you can never see my lie.

My lies. My many lies.

‘Be innocent of the knowledge dearest chuck’ Macbeth did say,

Still you cannot understand, you are lead astray, by my way,

My ways, my many ways.

There are many of me, many like me,

Many like you, who cannot see.

Be careful.

I am the person behind the screen.

Do you still know me?


3) I AM SORRY- By Mahali Isaac

There are many ways to say ‘I am sorry’

Many gestures, many voices that used to say, the three words

‘I am sorry’. These words used to set them FREE.

That was before, my time.

Many times,

I have said ‘I am sorry’

Many times.

Nobody is perfect, perfection is something that we all,

Strive for.

However, we will never be perfect.

This is the truth.

Many times, we will fall.

Many times, the words, ‘I am sorry’,

Are caught in our throats. But.

It is okay. It is part of life and learning to understand. Each other.

Everyday, we grow.

In our society, ‘I am sorry’ is hardly said,

less voices saying ‘I am sorry’

less and less,

less and less and less,

We have become, defiant and proud,

Less able to say, the three words,

I am sorry.

We must. Strip back the ignorance, strip back the sense of,

“I am right.” and entitlement.

Humble yourself, then humble others

Feel remorse and feel guilt,

Say ‘I am sorry’

It will set you,




I am defined by the social sphere that we call society.

According to society,

I am ugly. I am weird. I am an outcast. I will never become what I want to be.

I am defined by society.

Society has told me, I will never succeed. My purpose is to ‘live’. My sole purpose.

I am defined by society.

Society has made me, shaped me, moulded me, made me, broken me.

Never fixed me.

I am defined by society.

I am idiotic. I am free to speak, but I will never be listened to.

I am too weak to be strong.

I am defined by society.

Society’s judgements are etched on my skin, leaving scars. Permanent tattoos.

They can never be taken away. Here to stay. For the rest of my days.

I am defined by society.

I am not a size 0 so I am fat. I do not wear makeup so I am ugly.

I am defined by society.

I do not own the latest fashion. So I have no taste in clothes.

I communicate with my family, so I am not independent.

I am defined by society.

I am a puppet. Society has told me my strings can never be cut. Yet I will try.

And despite these labels, I slowly begin to realise that,

Society has become twisted. Society has a distorted view of life and beauty.

It is FAKE.

I am not defined by society.

I am beautiful. I am strong.

I am not a size 0 that does not mean that I am fat. I do not wear makeup, but I am not ugly.

I do not own the latest fashion, I am still fashionable.

I am not defined by society.

I communicate with my family, yet, I am independent.

I am not ugly. I am not weird. I am not an outcast.

I am another member of our community.

You are not defined by society.

It is our uniqueness that makes our society amazingly diverse.

You are beautiful, you are not ugly. You are strong.

You are another member of our community.

We are  UGLY not defined by society.