Poet: TJ Dema

Neon Poem by TJ Dema

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Poet TJ Dema, director/cinematographer Masahiro Sugano and Studio Revolt show how performance poetry film is done. The Studio Revolt Facebook page shared the video link on Friday accompanied by the following note:

On September 30 1966, the people of Botswana achieved independence from Britain’s colonial rule. On this 50th year anniversary, Studio Revolt would like to honor this important occasion with the world release of TJ Dema’s “Neon Poem” video. We were fortunate enough to collaborate with this talented and fiery spoken word poet while she was on tour in Cambodia. In the same year of Botswana’s independence, Amiri Baraka wrote a landmark poem as a radical anthem for Black Americans to seek self-love and liberation. “Neon Poem” exists after, and in conversation with Amiri Baraka’s “Black Art.”

Studio Revolt previously released another Sugano film of TJ Dema, “Dreams,” which demonstrated a more minimal but equally effective approach to performance poetry film making.

Dreams by TJ Dema

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This spoken-word film featuring the Botswana poet TJ Dema was directed, filmed, and edited by Masahiro Sugano of Studio Revolt in Phnom Penh. Click through to Vimeo for the complete credits, as well as the text of the poem and a bio of the poet. Sugano left the following note there as a comment:

TJ Dema is a renown poet from Botswana. Her poetry style would be called “spoken word” in the US. But speaking poetry out loud is how poetry has always been done in her homeland. So this is not a “street” or “urban” version of published words. This is poetry as it should be in Botswana. I had the great honor to get acquainted with this talented woman while traveling with Kosal Khiev (Cambodian Son) for London 2012 Cultural Olympiad in the UK. During her show at the Shakespeare museum, she told a few hilarious episodes about how poets are treated and represented in Botswana. I hope to share that video someday soon with you. Once again it is a great honor to present this video to you all. The production was done all in Cambodia (literally “in house” production) when she came to visit in March of 2015. Oh, and we filmed another piece called “Neon Poem” while TJ was here. Stay tuned. Like “Studio Revolt” on the Facebook page. You will be notified of the next release.
— Masahiro Sugano

Here’s the Studio Revolt Facebook page.