Tess ‘Soscratess’ Aura is a poet and activist who was a runner up at the 2016 Slam Poetry Festival. At 25, Aura has earned a reputation in poetry circles in Kenya for her commanding stage presence.
She spoke to Nairobi News about her love for poetry and why she prefers to write about women empowerment.
1. Where did you grow up? I grew up in Nakuru before I relocated to the United States to join my mother when I was 10. I went to school both in Kenya and US. I attended Boston University were I majored in International Relations and later University of Nairobi, where I did Gender Development.
2. When did you write your first poem? I think I was 10 when I found some poems strewn all over my mother’s living room. I started writing my own in my diary. I can say my mother has influenced me a lot. She also writes poems and I try to emulate her.
3. When did you first perform in front of an audience? When I was in the university. I was a bit shy because my poems are a bit personal. It felt like I was reading my diary in front of strangers. Now I’m trying to do it more often and openly.
4. Why women empowerment and not love poems? I don’t like to write about love. I think I have only written one love poem and it was for a friend of mine George and his wife for their wedding. I prefer to write about women issues, politics and parenting. But I think maybe once I fall in love I will start writing about it. I was raised by a single mother and she was always empowering me and it is also my everyday life. All I want is for women to rise up.
5. Does your mother still write poems? She does and most of the time she sends me scribbles and I try to piece them together. Most of what she writes do not rhyme, so I take them and put them together the way I want them.
6. Apart from writing and reciting your poems, what else do you do? At the moment I do volunteer work for the United Nations. I also like to go for events and I also host a podcast called 254 Kaa Rada. We debate on social-political issues around Africa like migration, democracy and polygamy.
7. Do you think Kenyans appreciate poetry? Actually a lot. I didn’t think they did and I thought they just listen for the punch lines and the flow. Most of the time after I perform, people will come to me and ask about a certain line. So people listen and they appreciate our work.