Speak your heart out

Speak your heart out

Poetry slam

Speak your heart out
Spoken word or performance poetry has become all the rage around the world, with its own set of stars, each with a dedicated YouTube following. Youngsters in Bengaluru are not far behind — the literary-cultural scene in the city offers them scores of opportunities to write and perform, and slams are gradually becoming an integral part of college fests, much like mad ads or skits.

“A couple of years ago, we had Airplane Poetry Movement, one of the pioneering groups of this form in the city, conduct a workshop for our members,” says the secretary of the Mount Carmel Literary Society, Trishima Reddy.

The girls were quick to take to the form and became active participants in the slam poetry circuit.

As students of literature, Trishima and Simran Narwani, also a member of the society, think that spoken word taking off as a movement has changed the way people view poetry.

“I loved poetry in school,” says Simran, who is also one of the finalists for the National Youth Poetry Slam. “But once I started doing BA in journalism, psychology and English, I liked every poem but the ones in my textbook. Slam poetry helped me get over this fear.” The movement has reached beyond students who are studying verse in the classroom. Vibhu Bharadwaj of BMS College of Engineering, who was introduced to the form four years ago by a few friends, included it in the events for the institute’s fest held in April.

“It moves away from the conventional rules of rhyme and form you tend to associate with poetry,” says the telecommunications engineering student. “It’s a more free-flowing form.”

But the students agree that while it gives the writer-performer more freedom, slam also makes the artiste feel more vulnerable than the written word does. “I feel like I’m opening up my skin to the whole world,” articulates Simran.  “To connect with the audience, which is essential in performance poetry, I need to write about something I deeply care about. I’ve realised I’m not too great at lying in my performance,” she elaborates with a chuckle.

For B Com student Sanjana Hiremath, who describes herself as an introvert, her initiation into the art form was little short of terrifying.  “Remembering the lines and pauses were challenging for me. Unlike in written word, if you make a mistake, you can’t go back and correct it. And I try to write, I try to listen to how it sounds and edit each draft at least thrice,” she says. If Sanjana has become more meticulous when she pens poetry, Vibhu has become more regular with his writing.  “Writing is an everyday-activity for me now,” he says. “You need to have something fresh to present at each slam.”

And poetry slams are pretty common, he adds, with bookstores like Atta Galatta and Goobes and pubs like The Humming Tree becoming hubs for performances. “In the past four days, I’ve performed at four different venues,” he says.
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