Rabbie “Wrote” Serumula is an author, award-winning poet, multiple-award nominated journalist before turning taking his passion for poetry, the arts and story telling to new heights.
The Limpopo-born, Soweto-raised artist is a BA Communication Science Alumni from UNISA. He is a columnist and currently studying a Postgraduate Certificate in Education at Wits University.
Rabbie co-authored the sought after book, The Black Consciousness Reader. The book was launched in 2017 and has seen immense success and was recently reprinted by OR Books, a New York-based independent publishing house.
He won Best Showcase at the Word N Sound Poetry Award in 2017 in Johannesburg, for the first Volume of Ultimate Form.
This multi-talented artist and storyteller was a journalist for six years. On his first year he was a finalist at the 2014 Standard Bank Sikuvile Journalism Awards where he was nominated as Young Journalist of the year, for Best Feature Writing and SA Story of there.
The Black Consciousness Reader is for sale at all major bookstores nationwide and will, along with physical copies of the poetry special Ultimate Form Vol.2, be available at the Market. Ultimate Form Vol.2, as a film and the poetry therein is dedicated to the memory of his late father. It is one of the untold stories of strong, single, black fathers.
Rabbie’s father passed away in 2017, just a month after the first volume of the project. This film is about the impact of the death on Wrote’s life. His mother passed away when he was six years old. He found his father’s lifeless body on his bedroom floor on the day of his passing.
The film speaks of how his father’s undying love and care made the man Rabbie Wrote is today. With Rabbie being so talented and having to give back so much through his work in the form of poetry, I just knew he would be the perfect person to interview.
RUAN: Poetry and storytelling is the best way to express oneself. What made you go into poetry?
RABBIE: I will not give you the mundane “i started poetry in high school”. I did though. But I was drawn into the art of speaking my truth to ears that are eager to listen because I am expressive. I am visual in thought and writing. Yes, I have had columns at The Saturday Star Newspaper, where I was online editor. This kept my creativity and desire sharpened. But the performance aspect of poetry burns hotter in my heart. It is the main catalyst for my yearning to write.
RUAN: Why did you leave journalism to pursue your passion as a poet and author?
RABBIE: I do not believe we are limited to having a single passion, nor career path in life. For many years I have juggled poetry and journalism. For many years I had been drained and fatigued attempting to keep both in the air. Yes, journalism will forever be dear to my heart. However, my heart said I needed to choose one for my body and mind to keep working. And so, here I am.
The more I grew as an artist, the more I wanted to tell stories to people in person. There is a disconnection I couldn’t shake when I did so as a journalist. You could say I wanted to break the fourth wall of a byline, if you may.
RUAN: Tell me more about your poetry special that you wrote “Ultimate Form Vol.2”?
RABBIE: Ultimate Form Vol.2 is a memorial service for my late father. I started and finished the project when I was at the worst time of my life. A single father raised me, and he had just passed on. The special was my method of mourning. I am glad it was filmed because I could never perform the work as I did the first time in April 2019 at Joburg Theater.
I had broken apart silently. I had to be strong for my sister. The pieces I broke into during that performance can never be put together.
The special is also notable because it is the first Poetry Special on Vimeo.
RUAN: A lot of inspiration and thought goes into your work, who would you say has been your mentors alongside your journey?
RABBIE: I started poetry at a competitive level seven years ago. Many of the poets I aspired to be in the same room with, have become my friends and we have shared many stages. All of them, Mak Manaka, Modise Sekgothe and Mutle Mothibe to mention a few, have helped shape the artist I am today. I continue travelling on my journey alongside them.
RUAN: What else can we expect from you for the remaining of 2019?
RABBIE: On September 7 I will be showcasing an alternative version of Ultimate Form Vol.2 at Word N Sound Poetry League, at the University of Johannesburg. Alternative because it will have work that is not featured in the project out now. It is mainly because I do not have the emotional capacity to perform many of the poems on the special again.
On October 26, I will alongside the poetry collective that I am part of, Magnum Opus, host the second annual The Cosmos Tribe, the only one of its kind poetry concerts at Wits Theatre.
The show brings the biggest names in poetry to one stage, for one night only.
With guidance from established poetry houses such as Word N Sound and Current State of Poetry, Magnum Opus was able to put together a poetry show of this caliber and will again do so this year. Tickets are already for sale through Webtickets.
RUAN: A lot of youth find inspiration in what you do, what advice do you have for them?
RABBIE: I pray a time will come when many of us will be in a position to pursue our dreams, instead of just getting by. But that is a privilege that requires much dedication, discipline and sacrifice. But it is within your reach, black child.
RUAN: If we would like to follow your journey how can we do so and where?
RABBIE: I think it is best to see what I am doing right now to have a comprehensive idea of who Rabbie Wrote is. Ultimate Form Vol.2 would be a good start. Those who prefer to listen, SoundCloud would be helpful. Readers can get a copy on The Black Consciousness Reader.
Then we can work on tracing my videos on YouTube and social media platforms.
RUAN: If you could sum up your life using a hashtag, what would it be?