[VoxSpace Life] Art Is Liberating : Our Talks With Young Spoken Word Poets Who Redefine The Beauty Of Literature

Art Is Liberating And Poetry Is It’s Amen

Art is liberating; every stroke of a painter, every move of a dancer, every beat of the music and every word of a poet is an abundance of emotion, love, rebellion, resistance and devotion. The era that we live in is witnessing the most beautiful kind of evolution of art. One of the most cherished renditions of it will have to be the ‘spoken word’.

Poetry can be dangerous, especially beautiful poetry, because it gives the illusion of having had the experience without actually going through it – so says Rumi and we cannot agree more.

The concept of ‘spoken word poetry’ is relatively new to India; we sure have had the tradition of performance poetry and kavi sammelans and mushairas have been a part of our history and culture, but what marks the difference between the two is the freestyle that spoken word possesses. The unconventional choice of subjects, the play of words and the hard-hitting style has made this style of poetry a major hit, especially amongst the youth. With the rise in demand and acceptance of this form, we have also seen a significant increase in the number of platforms for spoken word: poetry, performance, and storytelling. Who hasn’t heard of UnErase Poetry and Spill Poetry? Trending all over the internet for all good reasons one can think of.

The Significance Of Poetry As Celebrated By Social Media

Be it “a brown girl’s guide to beauty” by Aranya Johar or “Hawa” by Darshan Rajpurohit, These slam poetries have one thing in common: they bring to us the realities of life and society in the simplest way possible. These poems are poignant and leave us with awareness.

“I try to keep my poetry as simple as possible in terms of language so that people can connect. The reason why I chose slam poetry is because it has no restrictions for a meter or any other thing. I can literally write what I feel without being restricted,” says Darshan Rajpurohit.

Slam poetry has emerged as a movement in our society. Its appeal lies in the fact that it is not elitist in its approach. The mass appeal of the content and style makes it easy to access.

The Role Of Spoken Word In Establishing Poetry

Even though poetry has been a part of our culture, but in the recent past we have seen a diminishing interest of the masses and over a period of time it became the art of the upper-class elite. There has always been a subaltern discourse, but spoken word has helped in the revival of poetry as a part of the popular culture. Never before was a young poet as popular as Yahya Bootwala or Darshan Rajpirohit or Aranya Johar.

“Poetry as an art form was never looked up as singing and dancing or other forms of art. Things have changed now. Poetry and poets are getting, well deserved, attention”, says Darshan Rajpurohit and it is hard to disagree with that.

While we do see a revival of spoken word in India, it comes with its own problems and hardships.

“You never really know what might just offend the audience.  We Indians get offended too often. We have to be very conscious that the genres are distinguished and the piece comes out as a distinct piece and not a mix up”, says Amandeep Singh, acclaimed for his work ‘mujhe tumse pyaar nahi’ for Tape A Tale.

The Evolution Of Spoken Word And The Biggest Problems Faced

While there is a possibility of a boom in the field of ‘spoken word’ in the next two years, a lot depends on the budding artists. The growth of this stream reminds us of the massive growth that stand-up has had in the last few years. The ‘spoken word’ can be the next standup and has the potential of leaving it far behind because of how diverse it is. One of the biggest problems faced by the artists is that of sponsorship and funding. Even though the work is appreciated,  it is not always paid. While we do understand that art cannot be weighed in terms of money, artists do have a stomach to fill and family to go back to. We have seen how lack of funding has killed budding sportsmen and dancers and singers and any more talents in the past, we sure do not want ‘spoken word’ to go through the same dark alley.

‘Spoken word’ has just started spreading its wings in India and it sure has miles and miles to go and emerge as a recognized stream. It should not be something that you do to vent out the art in you, but rather be a career option that you choose to satisfy the artist that you are. Like any other art form ‘spoken word’ also faces criticisms and backlash, especially from the traditionalists, for their style and content but that should not deter these artists from doing what they are doing. They are at that stage from where they can evolve and grow. This art form needs support, appreciation and a little more time. That day is not far away when kids will aspire to become artists and poets and on that day we will look back to these brilliant artists who took up the challenge and changed the way people looked at poetry and poets.