Woman Scream 2016 New Delhi India

An evening with Spoken word poetry

Posted on: 06:55 PM IST Mar 16, 2016 | Updated on: 7:57 pm,Mar 16,2016 IST

With its open air spaces, Delhi's Akshara Theatre witnessed a Sunday evening of a rather unique nature: Spoken word poetry.

Kartoos 2016, the second edition of the International Poetry Festival organised by the Bring Back the Poets, is a part of the Cri de Femme International Poetry and Arts Festival 2016, a worldwide cultural non-profit chain of events coordinated by the Movimiento Mujeres Poetas Internacional (MPI/Women Poet’s International Movement) based in the Dominican Republic.

Spoken word poetry is slightly different from poetry reading as it is written with the intention of being performed, or spoken aloud. This gives the artists the space to be able to say what they want to and the freedom to encompass music, dance, drama and art therein.

An Indo-French collaboration, the poetry festival saw spoken word artists from the United States, Sri Lanka and Nepal, in addition to many from the capital.

(Image: Delhi Based poet Abhimanyu Verma talks about the current political scenario with his spoken word poem)

"Kartoos 2015 was just an experiment that we wanted to organise casually, in a cafe like environment. But we realized the potential of organising it on a bigger scale, because it was something that had never happened in India before," founder of Bring Back the Poets Aditi A said. However, she lamented the fact that talented artists from Bangladesh could not come for the event due to lack of funding.

"I am hoping that Kartoos will turn out to be a much bigger international event in 2017, where I would want to see poets from Pakistan and Bangladesh. I feel it is important to bring a more South Asian feel to this event," she adds.

The poems themselves, which covered a vast array of pertinent issues, often resonated the trauma of sexual abuse, consequences of war and current socio-political situation. Sam Richman, from Kansas City talks about his stay in Lebanon through his poems and the aftermath of war, while Nawaraj Parajuli from Nepal talks about female foeticide through his spoken word poetry.


Delhi based poet Aina Singh, said "This was one of the best events I have attended in the last 2 years of poetry I have done. I really like Bring Back The Poets as they create safe spaces that become echo chambers where people can be themselves and disagree with each other at the same time."

One of the attendees Nikita said, "In a society that shames you for your scars and pulls you down for speaking about the struggles, spoken word for me is a movement against that. Performances from the event are still echoing in my head. It's like having a conversation with poets".

(Video: We caught up with Colombo's Grace Wickremasinghe, who talked about the loopholes in the justice system and rape in her poetry, for a little tete-a-tete.)

For some time now, Spoken word poetry has had huge audience in the West. Several famous contemporary artists like Andrea Gibson, Sarah Kay, Kate Tempest, Dark Matter's Alok and Janani, among others have taken the internet by storm. While India is still trying to catch up, the one thing that seems to be lacking is a safe and open platform for such performative arts.