Amidst the poetry reading, Bangalore Literature Festival brings with it a whole new aspect – slamming - which involves taking poetry to the stage first rather than publishing it – through German poet Bas Boettcher, who has slammed for over two decades now.
For him, poetry aims at a connection between two hemispheres of words – the acoustic or sound and the meaning. At his slam poetry workshop for young adults, Boettcher used a tree as an example, halving it above the roots.
“If there’s a word 'earth' and the word 'birth', on one level, you can combine the sounds to create a poem, and on the other, you can combine their meanings. I always find it more productive to brainstorm for ideas for each of these levels separately,” he shares.
Paying close attention to the acoustic component marks Boettcher’s style. “You come up with keywords like earth and birth and leave gaps for rest of the lines, filling them up to generate rhythm,” he says.
So how is his poetry different from rap?
“In rap, you keep to the four beat rhythm, that’s why it’s easy for the rap artist and the DJ to play in harmony. This has rhythm too, but I’m free to bring in variation as I please. So my poetry is more like jazz than like rap,” he replies.
“I like to create a structure, follow it and break it at the end to bring about an element of surprise,” says Boettcher, illustrating his statement with his poem. Reciting ‘Punkt’ (meaning, dot or point), he advises participants to choose simple topics that ‘allow for greater innovation’ as he feels it’s difficult to identify fresh perspectives if the subject is complex. “There are so many ways in which you can look at a point – it’s the centre, encircled by the more important things; what people collect, such as miles when they fly or points in supermarkets. It’s what supermarkets use to collect people, to build a consumer base; it could be a pixel in a photograph, little pictures that make up a larger image,” he describes.
Like his poems, Boettcher springs a surprise on his audience towards the end of the session; he does not read and write except in his native tongue, he declares in the fluent English that he has spoken in throughout the duration of the workshop, even providing English sub-texts to his poetry so that the participants may follow.