VoxTalks With Twin City Poetry Club (TCPC) : Hyderabad’s Most Decorated Poetry Collective

Cultural Collective – Twin City Poetry Club – TCPC

In a culturally exploding city Hyderabad, it is not often that you come across communities and collectives which deliver on their promise of enhancing creative talents. Of course, there are the occasions gatherings which show some promise in delivering satiation, but collectives which regularly and structurally encourage talents are rare. One such collective which week after week ensures that anyone who vests interest in Poetry and is looking to enhance their talent, and more so explores various technicalities in his/her writing is Twin City Poetry Club. The club which is colloquially referred to as TCPC has been an integral part in painting the ever-growing mosaic of cultural well being in the city, and thus it was imperative that we get in conversation with founder and curator of TCPC, Rajesh about the club and its being. The excerpts of our conversations follow…

The name, Twin City Poetry Club suggests that the club is technically all about poetry. To begin with, can you explain to our readers what exactly Twin City Poetry Club (TCPC) stands for and what is the purpose it adheres to above and beyond the name itself? 

I remember an ancient Indian saying: “The man who knows nothing of music, literature, or art is no better than a beast, only without a beast’s tail or teeth.” The purpose of Twin City Poetry club is to ensure that the city dwellers who have mostly be alienated from the village roots get a safe space to connect with the muse. As the name suggests, poets from both Hyderabad and Secunderabad come together for our meetups.

We see that within Hyderabad itself, there are many people who are passionate towards poetry, but somehow fail to find a suitable platform for their expression. In this context, if someone is interested in being part of this community, what is the procedure that needs to be followed?

That may not be entirely true. Unlike when TCPC started in 2012, today the city is bursting with spaces that provide an opportunity to poets. These include various pubs, cafes and corporate events. Anyone can join TCPC for free on meetup.com.

Twin City Poetry Club has traveled quite far since the time it has started back in 2012-13. Today it is running successfully and is one of the best avenues when it comes to poetry. We are curious as to how did this all begin. And what was the importance of starting it at that specific time?

I have always been writing. I believe in the cathartic influence of art on your soul. In 2012, when I tried to find a forum for performing poetry, I found none online. That’s when I thought that our beloved city cannot be left out of the Poetry map and started TCPC on Meetup. The core team of Satyavati, Sai, Mehar, Akila, Ramakrishna, Gireesh and others came in and took the movement forward.

We would like to know what are the things that make TCPC stand apart from other literally and social communities within the city? What would you say is the USP of the community?

TCPC stands out in several ways. Firstly, it is a poetry only forum run by working professionals purely on a voluntary basis with absolutely no commercial interests. In fact, most of us go out of pocket serving TCPC most of the time. Secondly, we are form and language agnostic. This means I have Urdu, Hindi, English, Marathi, Telugu and other language poems being presented in the same forum. Thirdly is the format: We have two formats, the first one being the Huddle and the second being the largely popular open mic. We do more huddles than open mics. In the huddle format, the total participant count is restricted to about 15 and we spend a lot of time sitting together and performing, critiquing and enjoying poetry. Finally, we welcome poets of all age groups. Our youngest in OM who is about 10 years of age and our eldest members are in their 70s.

There are many people who are part of this successfully running community. In this regard, we were curious to know that how can one be benefited by attending to and be a part of Twin City Poetry Club? 

For those seeking only a performance space, there are many alternatives in the city today. For someone who is interested in communitization of poetry and genuine camaraderie and skill, TCPC is the right forum.

Continuing on the above thought, Are there any restrictions on what language one can recite their poetry in? Any guidelines or protocols perhaps? Also, you may come across participants who are nervous and shy to recite their poetry and may not look like they are open to any sort of criticism. But it is important for you people to give feedback to their piece. How do you handle this situation? 

I have answered the first part of your question already. Regarding first-timers and those who have self-doubts, we tell them that all the members in the room started off just like them. Some of them are really shy, but the fact that they have turned up for an event signifies that they have the will to participate. We work with them over a couple of meetups. We also have a WhatsApp group that helps them gain confidence through interactions. There is no criticism, ever. We clap for everything. TCPC is not a poetic space for highbrow professionals. Its aim is to promote poetry in society and not itself 🙂

The club keeps organizing various events across the city and collaborates with other collectives as well. In that regards how do you plan to take the Club to the next level/ what are the plans for TCPC to grow further?

As of now, we have no plans to bring in any major changes. The city of Hyderabad is already bustling with Poetic activities. We would like to watch and contribute where there seems to be a gap or a lull.

Over the years, you and the club must have been through many ups and downs and yet you are running successfully today. Going back in time, what are the things you would want to do in a different manner or some situations you feel could have dealt in a better manner? 

Nothing, really. Our focus was to start a small journey towards promoting poetry in Hyderabad. We have been fairly successful at what we set out to do. The Hyderabad Huddle, a full-day event that we do once a year in connection with the launch of our Annual Anthology, Lakdi Ka Pul, brings together clubs and artists from across Hyderabad and rest of India. We intend to make it more diverse this year by inviting painters to display their pieces as well. There are no other major plans.

Over the years of having great poets in the club, pick three poets who all the other members look forward to listening and they never disappoint. 

There are so many. But here are my three favorites: Anirudh Eka (English, now in the US), Gireesh Raju (Telugu, now in Bengaluru), Abdul Ali (Urdu). I also have a favourite Hindi poet, Mehar Singh Chauhan (now in Delhi) who was also one of our founding members.

Who are the poets you follow or idolize and take inspiration from? 

There are many. If you treat our scriptures as pieces of literature, then the Bhagwat Gita is my favourite Kruthi. Gita 2, 20 is my favourite. In English, I love Louis MacNeice, Yeats, Walt Whitman, Neruda, Kipling, Maugham. In the new-gen: I love Tabish Khair.

Any moment when you felt, this is the reason why this club was started. 

I feel that every time a poet decides to stop being a closet poet and walks into one of our Meetups. As an evangelist of the muse, every conversion is my inspiration.

What according to you is the difference between a writer and a poet? 

“While the theme may be the same, the craft and treatment is different between the two. There is more music, more imagery and metaphors condensed into each line of poetry. A Writer mostly dabbles in prose. However, there is some brilliant poetry I have seen in the writings of artists’ who are primarily classified as writers.

If you put some line breaks here and there, it would read like poetry.

For example, The God of Small Things is full of brilliant prose bordering poetry:

Once the quietness arrived, it stayed and spread in Estha.  It reached out of his head and enfolded him in its swampy arms.  It rocked him to the rhythm of an ancient, foetal heartbeat.  It sent its suckered tentacles inching along the insides of his skull, hoovering the knolls and dells of his memory, dislodging old sentences, whisking them off the tip of his tongue.

Here is another example, this one from Noble Laureate, John Steinbeck’s Grapes of Wrath:

“Soft fingers began to tap the sill of the car window, and the hard fingers tightened on the restless drawing sticks. In the doorways of the sun-beaten tenant houses, women sighed and then shifted feet so that the one that had been down was now on top, and the toes working. Dogs came sniffing near the owner cars and wetted on all four tires one after another. And chickens lay in the sunny dust and fluffed their feathers to get the cleansing dust down to the skin. In the little sties the pigs grunted inquiringly over the muddy remnants of the slops.”

Any final message for our readers and the poets out there. 

Like all Arts, Poetry helps you become a better person. It allows you to retain the ability to laugh and cry through your words. It helps you live with yourself, within yourself. Hold on to your Muse.

Thus, to all patrons and talents who seek to enhance their talent in the company of like-minded poets across the city, do feel free to reach out to Twin City Poetry Club. All the Best.!!