World Poetry Day: Four spoken word poets reflect on love, our cities and friendships

In 2018, Firstpost released eight poems by four spoken word poets, which spanned two languages — English and Hindustani — and reflected on a variety of themes, from the matrix-like nature of cities, to the labels we assign to people, and making a case for praising artists and their work. An attempt to showcase their art as well as their creative process, their verses written in the 'spoken word' format were brought to life by visuals and supported by music.

Ankita Shah

"What according to you is the mark of a good poem?"

"Absolute, absolute honesty."

One of the most significant young voices of Mumbai's poetry scene, Ankita co-founded The Poetry Club in 2013 with Trupthi Shetty. A space like the Club gave her exposure to poets who wrote in several languages and the opportunity to discover styles and narratives different than her own. Ankita feels that performing a poem adds a whole new dimension to it, because so much depends on the sounds of the words one chooses to employ. With every poem, Ankita hopes that she can make the reader feel the way she did when she was putting her pen to the paper. "If someone reads or hears my poems, I want them to like the process of unlayering it."

A(f)fair Warning

Vulture

Read the full interview with Ankita here.

Ramneek Singh

"When you have a passion for something, you don't really ask yourself the question 'Why am I doing this?' You just continue pursuing it. It's like falling in love; you don't question why you are in love, you just feel that way."

For Ramneek, poetry means many different things, including but not limited to being a medium to understand his own opinions on matters of society and politics. Spoken word poetry's merit as a form lies in both its urgency and direct nature, he said. He considers poetry a weapon; an alarm that the artist can ring when they see something wrong in society. When asked what draws him to poetry, he didn't have quite a definitive answer, except this: "I don't think there is any answer for me, except poetry. I don't think I can excel at anything else the way I do at poetry."

Shehar Matrix

Cheetiyaan

Read the full interview with Ramneek here.

Aashna Iyer

At the heart of writing poetry, for Aashna, is the ability to make people break the veneer of poise and actually feel. She has an affinity for the stage and believes that there is great power in delivering one's work to the audience, in one's own voice. In her opinion, a good poem is one that touches the listener and creates an impression in their mind — unique to them and them only. "The best poetry in my opinion, can make you take the core of my poem and build a memory of your own, connected to only you. That's great poetry." Ultimately, what draws her to the form is the ability to tell stories through it.

7 Minutes

Labels - Are for Bottles

Read the full interview with Aashna here.

Shruti Sunderraman

"Perhaps the way I look at structuring my poems, the metre, the shape I give them, have evolved over the years, or that I am more willing to experiment now, but I think I have always, without prompt, thought poetically... It's the first and easiest form of expression for me — like a first aid kit for my emotions."

Shruti rejects the notion that poetry should be underestimated because it is a 'softer' medium; why should strengths only be aggressive, she asks. What makes a poem beautiful is a certain amount of mindfulness, she says — the awareness that one should write for oneself, but edit keeping in mind a larger audience. She says that what is missing from the present poetry scene is the practice of listening to other poets, which is important for the betterment of the larger poetry culture.

How to Love Art and Save Your Artist's Life

Flowers and Friends

Read the full interview with Shruti here.

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Updated Date: Mar 22, 2019 10:21:47 IST

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