[Faint reverb from the mike…]
He reached out into the pocket and takes out a slightly crumpled piece of paper.
Few scribblings here and there!
[The mike is now buzzing with the feedback noise]
The audience is waiting, faint murmurs can be heard.
Everyone has a story to tell, and every story needs to be heard. For ages, poetry has been static, confined to the four corners of the papers they are printed on, and occasional readings usually in the elite social get together or paid events.
But with spoken word poetry the boundaries are being broken. What could be called as the love child of hip-hop and poetry, Spoken Word brings the poet to the center of the stage. Where the poet gets the opportunity to tell their story to the audience, where the lines are filled with the raw emotions, and every word is spoken with the passion that they were written. The verses jump out of the pages they were traditionally written on, and connect directly to the audience.
Poetry is no more read, but performed. In those few moments that the poets are on the stage, they are the rock stars.
Off late, Spoken Word Poetry has found significant popularity among the youth as a medium of self-expression. Young poets have taken this opportunity to talk about topics that were once considered as taboo. Be it racism, feminism, political injustice, wars, sexual abuse, mental illness, humour or satire. The poets are making themselves heard, and people are listening.
What’s a Poetry Slam?
A poetry slam is like a friendly poetry battle between the participating poets. It is not a competition in the traditional sense, but a platform for spoken word poets to perform their poems to the audience. There’s usually a time limit of 3-4 minutes. Poets are expected to perform their original poems. Usually five judges are randomly chosen from the audience to score the poets, but smaller slams generally have three. After each poet performs, each judge awards a score to that poem. Scores generally range between zero and ten. The highest and lowest score are dropped, giving each performance a rating between zero and thirty points. Before the competition begins, the host will often bring up a “sacrificial” poet, whom the judges will score in order to calibrate their judging.
What is Bhubaneswar Poetry Slam?
The undercurrent of spoken word poetry has been strong in different parts of the world since its inception with various national and international poetry slams being conducted. It has recently reached the shores of India. Spoken word poetry communities have sprung up in various parts of the country like Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore, Kolkata etc. where poets meet regularly to perform their poems in a non-judgmental environment. Moreover, many city-level and National level slams are also being conducted on a regular basis.
Slams and Open Mics have been organized where poets of all ages have performed their original works. Some of the notable events include Poetry Night-Out, Poetry and Pakudi, and An Evening of Spoken Word Poetry on National Poetry day at Bakul. Open Sesame, an inter college Spoken word Poetry Competition was also conducted last year at the fest of KIIT University.
Where are we headed?
The idea is to conduct as many workshops as possible to spread the idea of Spoken Word Poetry from a small group of enthusiastic poets to the several closet poets across the city. Conducting slams on a regular basis and making slams an integral part of the college fests across the city. Conducting slams in local languages, and eventually taking the movement to other parts of the state. In short, making the city a hub for spoken word poetry.
How can you be a part?
To start off, you can join their face book page to keep up to date about forth coming events.
If you are still unsure, these lines by Robin Williams ‘Dead Poets Society’ should do the trick.
[Contributed by: Anshuman Dash – an avid poet and ‘wordsmith’]