Poetry… a form of communication and expression that has been around since time immemorial. Whether it is the great Vedas or legendary epics like Ramayana and Mahabharata. Verse was the chosen mode of creation instead of prose. The great seers who produced these ancient works knew the power of poetry. A compilation of choicest and meaningful words set to the chhand or meter facilitated easy memorising. It grabbed attention and was endearing to the ears. And this was not only limited to ancient Indian literature. But was true for the Western countries as well.
However, creating good poetry was no easy feat. So, it became the fascination of only a few connoisseurs. And just when the world began to believe that poetry was meant only for the chosen ones, it resurfaced. It was once again heard among the masses in the form of free verse. Creating free verse retained the powerful, raw emotion that poetry could carry. But at the same time it liberated the art form from the rigid rules of composition.
The free verse gave way to the new-age spoken word poetry. A powerful medium with an extended arm of emotional expression, coupled with performance. Social media, YouTube and other digital mediums were late to join the party. But they have made the reach enormous.
Check out some of these amazing performances that are heartfelt and gripping.
Joelle Taylor, a marvelous poet, talks about the surge in spoken word poetry in his essay. He beautifully shares, “How can poetry nights that traditionally occupy the half-lit backroom of an anxious bar suddenly find themselves at the nexus of cultural change? The clue is in the word ‘suddenly’. As with most things ‘suddenly’ took a long time to materialise.”
There have been numerous people behind this rise. People, who didn’t back down from sharing their works with the audiences. Who designed their words with the right quantum of audacity, emotion and authenticity. Who didn’t shrink themselves to fit into coffins of conformity. Or didn’t bottle their words to look like an attractive package. These are the people who waged a war with their own traumas and raw experiences. And transformed poetry into a warm hug, embracing people across the world.
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Communities opened their doors to people having difficulty performing. Invited them to join the movement. People with speech disorders. And even those who feel overwhelmed to be in a public space. Allowing them to explore relevant and pressing subjects. Cutting the arms of discrimination. Letting the beauty of regional language flow into poetic verses. Isn’t it amazing to see threads of poetry bind a community?
Justin: A Poem To Autism
Today, we live in dynamic times. Where a tweet can erupt a global urgency and voices are sabotaged for using free-thought. But the spoken word poetry is sculpting a revolution with GenZ and the stories of past resonating with today’s audiences. It is acquainting them with their roots and culture.
The joy of experiencing poetry in motion, unadulterated by laws, asking questions which are imperative, flavoured with languages beyond English, laced with imperfections of everyday life, nudging you to think, allowing you to feel the past-present-future at once, smeared with emotions… is as close as we can come to free art. A tidal wave of poetry directed at creating change, community and cultural confluence.
The ‘Wake Up’ Call
The sheer intimacy that spoken word poetry provides is diametrically opposite to written word. A room full of audience, with feet and thoughts sunk into words. Drawn to an event, a moment perhaps. Allowing words to percolate into the veins. A modern day drug for poets. The addiction of which can only empower people and shape a better tomorrow.
Poets are not mere romantics. They are disruptors, who bare the scars and cover their wounds with words. Spoken word poetry allows one to feel these wounds by making them seen, heard and even felt. It’s the abstraction of this form which creates its strength and stirs a change. It allows one to disengage with a filtered life and move into the sphere of an unedited engagement. As it’s said – you cannot edit emotions.
Siddharth Warrier, who doubles up as a doctor and a poet, shares in an interview with Forbes magazine. He says, “It’s raw. You don’t need to work on it too much. If you try and write a sonnet about your emotions, you’ll spend so much time trying to structure it and lose the emotion. In spoken words, the very things you feel are spoken words.”
Alice In Anxiety Land
Spoken word poetry has a plethora of things to offer to everyone. It allows people at the margins to not just speak but express themselves. It’s a world where verse finds a stage. And your own poetry is shared like a piece of pie with the rest. The global pandemic didn’t cripple the voices of these poets. Technology waved its magic wand and brought these voices to the mobile screens, laptops, office meetings and more. The accessibility of this form, especially for the ones who couldn’t afford hefty tickets or travel to watch the poets perform live, became godsend through these tough times. It even propelled many others to take up this art.
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This beautiful marriage of words and performance that continues to bloom… has put poetry back in the limelight. Giving us the next generation’s revolutionaries, spoken word poetry will continue to be a thriving scene, seeding philosophies through poetic verses. So, let’s cherish this brand new batch of unabashed poets who do more than just wear their hearts on their sleeves.