When listening to him reciting his poems, you may feel yourself lost in a world of dreams, but Gershwin Bonevacia is not just a dreamy poet. He is a brand, with all his movements well thought out, without losing passion and feeling in his work.
When did it all start?
‘I have been busy with words for about five years now, of which the last three I’ve really made it my job. I was always busy with writing, but never knew what I wanted to do with it. Until three years ago when I really found my way. The turning point for me, to really get serious with it, was when I just started and won a price. This was the moment I realised people really liked what I wrote. From that moment I really started to study poetry, as in the technical sides to it. ’
You have dyslexia, how does this form you as a writer?
‘When I first found out I was dyslexic, I finally felt like it all made sense. Before I found out I would think I was not smart enough, but after I found out I really started to study it. How does dyslexia work and how can you use it to your advantage? I noticed that when I was writing and could not spell a word, I would always look for synonyms, which is something that I still use in my work. In poetry you need to be able to have feelings for synonyms, metaphors and other linguistic tricks, which I am used to thinking of.’
How would you describe the point you are at now?
‘Right now I would like to call myself a poet. I write poetry for several businesses and I also perform a lot of my own work. I sometimes do some copywriting or voice overs, but mainly perform on business events like symposia or congresses. Right now I have just released my own book, “Ik heb een fiets gekocht”, which I’m very happy with.’
You are 24 years old right now and got your own book released now: How does it feel?
‘It’s crazy. I released it on December 10. It’s so magical, every time I look at it I need to pinch myself to know it’s real. Sometimes I just read through it, see poets I wrote almost two years ago and look at where I am know. It feels amazing, and is probably one of the proudest moments in my career. The idea to make a poetry bundle came up around four years ago, to have like a portfolio of all my work. When I finished the actual contents, at the beginning of 2017, I started with the business side of publishing a book. Getting into marketing, and all the other aspects that come with releasing it.’
You have quite a business approach for someone in the creative world, how come?
‘I finished a study of Commercial Economics. During my study I have learned a lot about personal branding. I really keep this in mind in my career. I am a creative person, working in a creative industry, but I strongly feel like you have to be strategic with the choices you make. If you have a certain style and want people to see you in a certain way, you should take gigs that compliment that. After all it is a career, so I treat it in a professional matter.‘
What is the difference between your own work and the things you write for others?
‘There is a big difference. My own work is really my style, and can be about anything. I really take these moments to write and allow myself to let everything that comes to mind hit the paper. When you write something for a client, you have a set subject and you do not always have as much inspiration for these kind of gigs. That is where my knowledge of poetry comes in very well. By using certain techniques I have mastered, you can still make really nice and creative pieces, even when the inspiration is low.’
Which projects that you’ve done, in commission, are you most proud of?
‘I’ve done a gig for the festival of freedom festival on the 5th of May, which was amazing to do, especially with all the publicity for this event. Another thing which was really special to do was for the abolition of slavery, where the King of the Netherlands was in the crowd. TedxYouth in 2015 is also something I am really proud of. These three I think, were some of the coolest I’ve done.’
Are there some pieces you have written which you are completely sick of?
‘Of course. There are some poems that I have performed so many times that it got old to me. But that’s probably the same with rappers like 50 Cent, I bet he is sick and tired of performing “in the club”, as well. But you just continue with new work, however if someone really requests a specific poem, I don’t mind.’
What do you think you can bring to the future of poetry?
‘I think poetry should become more accessible. It’s now sometimes seen as the world of the old white guy. But poetry is something for everyone. I try to bring poetry to a more mainstream public by organizing a poetry night, here in Amsterdam called I Speak. I love giving the stage to young starting poets. The spoken word movement is also working on getting the art of words to a bigger public now, but I think poetry deserves a spot in this as well.’