Spoken Word is IN

It’s so exciting to see the recent flurry of poetry events that Bombay has to offer.. The supply and demand for poetry seems to have grown in leaps and bounds over the last 2 years that I’ve been here.. And what’s even more amazing is that we’re seeing new faces and more energised people who are all asking the same question – What is spoken word/performance poetry/slam poetry???

Here’s the short version –

  • Spoken word is the second cousin of the ancient traditions of storytelling passed on from Homer, Kabir, Kalidas, Beat Poets, Ginsberg etc. It is poetry that refuses to sit on a page, it needs an audience to exist and BE a performance poem. It incorporates the use of vivid imagery, does not lean against structure and can be accompanied by costumes/music and props. It is quite simply, poetry come alive.
  • Slam poetry is your competitive sibling. The one who wants to do better than you and take home all the accolades. Slam poetry is like a rap battle without the freestyle or dissing. It always was and always will be a denotation of a poetry competition. If anyone tells you otherwise, they don’t know what they are talking about. Please direct them here.

And for those who need rules and structure and are intimidated by being told that ‘there are no rules in spoken word’.. Here’s a few err pointers that should help you when you get up in front of a mic to perform..

  1.  Don’t preamble before you start reading your poem. Talk to members of the audience during the break or after the event and tell them about all your epiphanies and theories.
  2. No disclaimers/no apologies/no trigger warnings. Just read your poem please.
  3. Poetry doesn’t always have to rhyme. Don’t force the tried, tested and tired ab ab rhyme scheme. If you love structure SO much try writing a Villanelle or a Sonnet or an Ode or a Pantoum or a… you catch my drift.
  4. A poem is never complete. Just like you and me and them and us. Leave room for perspective and evolution.
  5. Accept a compliment graciously (always seems like such a task for us arty folks).

If you’ve made it THIS far – here’s a virtual hug 🙂

If you’re looking for the next poetry event, click here.

Much love,

Rochelle D’silva 


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