TJ Dema

Foto: Petra Rolinec

TJ Dema is a Spoken Word poet and arts manager born in Gaborone, Botswana, in 1981. She is the Chairwoman of the Writers’ Association of Botswana. About her passion for language she says, “I have always taken words – especially the spoken word – very seriously. We speak things into being; by expressing an opinion or thinking a thing out loud, you summon the intention behind it. It isn’t, but it is that simple.” She uses her texts to tell little stories – about Gaborone, where she was born, about the pain of a mother giving birth to a child, about ageing.

In 2005 TJ Dema took part in the British Council ‘Crossing Borders’ project and was a guest at many festivals, making her known beyond the boundaries of the African continent – her poems have already appeared in a Chinese anthology. In 2012 she recorded the album Dreaming Is A Gift For Me with twelve Botswanian poets in three of Botswana’s languages.


The Sonic Slam Chorus (2011)
Dreaming Is A Gift For Me

Kosal Khiev

Foto: Vinh Dao

Kosal Khiev was born in Battambang, Cambodia, in 1980, and is a Spoken Word Poet and tattoo artist. His lyrics describe moments, impressions and feelings. His poems deal with the sheer weight of loneliness and monotony, at the same time however breaking through this with their communicative power.

In 1981 his family fled to the USA during the Cambodian civil war, and Khiev grew up there. He was sentenced to a 14-year jail term for attempted murder after a gang fight. During his time in prison he discovered in the form of Spoken Word a way of telling his stories and mastering his demons. In 2011 he was deported back to Cambodia. He now lives in Phnom Penh where he talks about his experiences in universities and schools and in prison workshops. Khiev sees his task as being to teach young people about poetry as a form of self-expression and thus help them point their lives in new directions. At the 2012 Zebra Poetry Film Festival he won the prize for the Best Performance with his piece Why I Write.

Ise Lyfe

Foto: Joshua Shelton

Ise Lyfe, born in Oakland, California, USA, in 1982, is one of the USA’s best Spoken Word artists and has made a name for himself as a rapper. He also puts on stage productions, writes poetry and works with young people. He produced a stage version of his poetry collection Pistols and Prayers as a one-man show, to sold-out theatres. With biting wit he tries to fathom political life in his homeland with accurate observations of day-to-day life. In 2001 Lyfe won his first national poetry slam. He appeared in the HBO show Def Poetry Jam and has shared the stage with such greats of the Spoken Word and music worlds as Gil Scott-Heron, Mos Def, Saul Williams, Ben Harper and Erykah Badu. He is currently working on his third album, Slave R3volt.


Spread The Word, CD (2007)
Prince Cometh
, CD (2008)
Pistols and Prayers
(iUniverse 2010)


Paula Gelbke alias Peh (born in Berlin in 1979) is one of the most successful women in the German slam scene. Peh’s texts and performance are as full of energy as the city of Berlin that she frequently takes as her subject. Bas Böttcher called her verse the ‘New Sensuality’ in 2007, and various invitations to book fairs and television appearances followed in Germany, Austria and Switzerland as well as in non-German-speaking countries. Doing performances and workshops for, among others, the Goethe Institute, has taken her to Italy, Japan, Poland and Slovakia.

Peh was a prizewinner in the second round of the ARTE WebSlam, and in 2008 she won the Augsburg ABC Brecht Poetry Cup and was Berlin Poetry Slam Vice Champion. She has recorded some of her texts accompanied by jazz sounds and D‘n’B beats, sometimes singing her texts as well. She is currently deeply involved with creative work with young people in workshops.


Kennst Du das?  (CD) (2008)
(Kyrene 2009)
Drei Farben Weiß: Slam & Poesie
(Kyrene 2011)