A Bloemfontein mother of six has overcome many obstacles to become a published poet. The anthology, Dedications of Colour was launched at the University of Free State last month.
Five years ago Tessa Muller posted a few lines on Facebook prompting someone to ask her if she was a poet. The University of the Free State employee had little knowledge of poetry and had to do a bit of research to find out more.
Many poems and performances later, Tessa, stage name The PropheTezz, last month became a published poet when she launched her poetry anthology called Dedications of Colour.
In five years she went from a quiet, somewhat introvert personality to a prolific writer and dynamic performer. Some even refer to her as the Maya Angelou of Bloemfontein for her wisdom and experience.
The founder of The PropheTezz youth foundation, Muller launched her book in Women’s Month to pay homage to women and had 80 people in attendance. The anthology was published by Huba Publishing.
The PropheTezz’s publisher, Tsholo Tlhomelang, did a short address and this was followed by a humorous briefing about the author from Ms Logan Kruger.
A chance encounter of Tlhomelang and Muller at a book launch in March this year became the genesis of this book. Like many projects, the journey was not always smooth sailing.
Quoting from Muller’s poetry to underline this point, Tlhomelang said; “I am that unborn seed, I am more than a mouth to feed, I have the right to take my first breathe, my first steps and leave my mark of revolution…..we faced temptation, rejection, misconception, condemnation, with no reconciliation, procrastination as an addiction, reductionism, prosecution, we fell into fragments, cracked backwards, faith is all we had”.
I was baffled to hear that Tessa was once an introvert because the woman I have met is no shrinking violet. “Years ago, when she was a librarian at CUT “she only responded to what she was asked….she dressed vintage…if fashion police existed then she would be in jail now”, said Ms Logan.
She has come a long way since then and as she walked down the boulevard of life she has had to overcome the painful sting of a divorce. “Today I’m not talking about Tessa, I’m talking about The PropheTezz. She’s an extrovert, a go getter, innovator, organiser, she has a zest for life,” said Logan.
The night ended on a high note with word, performance, as well as book signing from the star of the show The Prophetezz herself. I was enthused by the way she performs. She carry’s herself in such a way that one can see that the words come from the very deepness of her soul. The Prophetezz herself breathed life into the crowd as we began shouting “WE WANT MORE! WE WANT MORE!” after her last performance.
Dedications of colour is a memoir of her life encounters portrayed as a non-fiction poetry book in which The PropheTezz expressively talks about people, and things she has come across, as well as her life experiences. “If I had to sum up the book, I would tell everyone that this book is not an ordinary anthology. It is very fresh and real, raw and naked. It is a non-fiction book through the spoken word”, she said. The book is comprised of 51 masterpieces which are poetically articulated through themes and chapters of dedications to the colours of love, her being, from woman to woman, motherhood and family, addiction, abuse and its pain as well as the world she lives in.
Out of this collection, The PropheTezz nominated Mmakgosi wa Arika as her favourite because she not only encourages women to celebrate themselves but men to celebrate them as well, “as women, we like to weigh ourselves up against one another…….and in the poem I am trying to explain to the women out there that no matter the type of your hair, the shape of your nose, the thickness of your lips, how big your behind is or how broad your hips are, just embrace yourself for who you are, celebrate yourself because some call you a Queen, some call you an Empress, and some call you a Mother or you can even be called a Philosopher”, she says. The poem is comprised of the Setswana, Afrikaans, English and isiXhosa languages.
The feeling she ignited in me when she recited this poem during the launch will forever remain memorable. The performance was something out of this world and never have I felt so proud of being an African woman than when The PropheTezz presented this poem.
The book is entitled Dedications of Colour because each poem is a dedication to someone or something that she has encountered in her life. Colours represent the different seasons that she has gone through in her life since seasons change and they all have different colours.
The PropheTezz views the pieces in her book as a painting hence the paint brush on the cover. “Every stroke, every touch strips off the real me or the real person no matter how much it hurts. It is naked, honest and bold,” she said. “This presaged poetry is a real rollercoaster, it is un-cuffed and unhinged, it is raw, and it is cutting to the bone and written from the depths of her soul. It is in its unapologetic dialect”, said her publisher.
The PropheTezz has not gone through higher learning of the arts, therefore this suggests that her ability to play with words is a God given talent and this is proven true by the positive reviews that she has received for her contribution to the Bloemfontein arts industry. She was inspired by her father to read a lot at a very young age but she never liked poetry at school because she didn’t understand it, hence she believes that poetry found her.
“This is a volume that tells of raw truths in a language to match. It displays a fierce energy in its exploration of a harsh, sometimes painful world that holds, nonetheless, possibilities for love, and even some sense of redemption,” said retired professor in English, poet and research associate Tony Ullyatt.
“Through parturition of potent words, the Prophetezz gives birth to a colourful collection. Verbalizing the evils of racism, poverty or massacres aims at lifting the curses,” said award winning poet, publisher, editor and university lecturer in France and Italy, Bridgitte Poirson.
The PropheTezz hopes to fund her foundation with some of the books’ proceeds. This foundation is inclusive of the Hlompha project, the Little Feet project, Reading and Writing Clubs for Foundation Phase Learners and awareness campaigns and conferences. The book will sell at R150 and it can be ordered at www.hubapublishing.com , on The PropheTezz’s Facebook page (Tessa Muller), or directly from The PropheTezz and it will be delivered.