Lyrical verses now in Slams and Spoken Word

Poetry has been used as a medium to communicate for centuries.

Published: 25th August 2017 10:56 PM  |   Last Updated: 26th August 2017 06:54 AM   |  A+A-

Open-mic and Spoken Word sessions in the city

Express News Service

CHENNAI: Poetry has been used as a medium to communicate for centuries. Written, recited and published in various forms, this form of literature has come a long way today. From sonnets to free verses, and ballads to modern, poetry has evolved over the years. Chennai too has its set of poetry-high people. With clubs and groups conducting poetry reading sessions and slam poetry contests, many are trying to retain this beautiful form of literature.

“We have been conducting poetry festivals and sessions for over a decade. Poetry has definitely evolved in the city over the years, but at a slow pace,” explains Meera Krishnan, senior programme coordinator, Prakriti Foundation. These poetry groups and sessions provide a platform for young poets and poetry enthusiasts to participate and connect. Like every other medium, poetry too has undergone its own set of changes. What used to be traditional poems have evolved into spoken word and slam poetry contests as well as open mics.

Raghavendra Madhu, who founded Poetry Couture, says “We live in the age of Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest and other kinds of online micro-poetry alongside contemporary poetry, and the raging fad of slams. A few weeks ago, poetry readings were mostly organised in academic circles, in undetectable closed-door gathering and unheard silos. The need for spaces to gather, recite poetry or express the written word was increasingly felt. This is how Poetry Couture came into existence.”

With traditional poetry being read only in schools and colleges, poetry took a turn and evolved into what is called as Spoken Word. Spoken Word included verbal oration of word play with focus on intonation and voice inflection. “When I came to the city nine years ago, there wasn't really much exposure given to poetry. There was a Madras Poetry Club, which focused on traditional poetry. But everyone was above 50  years there,” recalls Michelle Ann James, co-founder Mocking Bird.

Mocking Bird, which started conducting small spoken word sessions to exchange ideas and thoughts, provided a platform for people to openly discuss anything in the form of open mic poetry.  “Initially, a lot of people who used to come to watch these sessions, would feel very shy to come out and speak. But over a couple of more such sessions, they too would walk up to the stage to share what they have,” she adds.  

From the time when traditional poetry was used as a medium to convey to the masses various social issues and topics like feminism, gender equality to a time where anything can be discussed, poetry has definitely come a long way. For instance, a video by Aranya Johar, where she recites ‘A brown girl’s guide to beauty’, discusses discriminatory beauty standards, and became a sensation on social media.

So does it really create an impact among the listeners? Recalling a dalit poetry session they conducted in the city a couple of years back, Meera  says “The kind of poetry that was read out, the kind of personal experiences that were shared, it was really so powerful and indeed was a touching moment for most listeners there, including me.”

It affected people in different ways. Some just read it and let it be, but while others pondered on what they had read and heard, and changed their perspective about a lot of things. It wouldn't be wrong to say that it made them more open-minded. “The power of a single poem rewrites history. Poetry is with every line, dismantling the stigmas surrounding mental health and illness, sex, gender, sexuality, LGBTQ+ movement, racism, fascism, other Manichean applications of ethics and moral policing on dressing, ‘appropriateness’ and many other constraints that people are only growing conscious of only now,” explains Srivatsan Manivannan, a student of liberal arts and poetry enthusiast.

All things poetry
Mahabharata is the longest poem in the world and has around 1.8 million words
One of the most popular forms of short poems is the ‘Haiku’ — which originates from Japan and has only 17 syllables
In traditional poetry, a stanza originally contains 12 lines, a couplet is a two-line stanza and a quatrain is a four-line couplet

Stay up to date on all the latest Chennai news with The New Indian Express App. Download now
(Get the news that matters from New Indian Express on WhatsApp. Click this link and hit 'Click to Subscribe'. Follow the instructions after that.)

Comments

Disclaimer : We respect your thoughts and views! But we need to be judicious while moderating your comments. All the comments will be moderated by the newindianexpress.com editorial. Abstain from posting comments that are obscene, defamatory or inflammatory, and do not indulge in personal attacks. Try to avoid outside hyperlinks inside the comment. Help us delete comments that do not follow these guidelines.

The views expressed in comments published on newindianexpress.com are those of the comment writers alone. They do not represent the views or opinions of newindianexpress.com or its staff, nor do they represent the views or opinions of The New Indian Express Group, or any entity of, or affiliated with, The New Indian Express Group. newindianexpress.com reserves the right to take any or all comments down at any time.

flipboard facebook twitter whatsapp