DelSlam: How Indian youth is embracing slam poetry to voice opinion

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By Ishan Kukreti

NEW DELHI: Pen is mightier than the sword and words are more powerful than punches. An ensemble of poets and artists in Delhi is proving just that by voicing their opinion through poems.

Delhi Poetry Slam(DelSlam),which came into existence in December 2013, gives a platform to various ‘word performers’ from poets to hip-hop lyricists. Slam is a world phenomenon in poetry which began in the 90s and has revitalized poetry recitals since, usually considered drab and boring. The new form, aggressive and vocal, is mostly a personal narrative of things unsaid or unsung.

The recitals try to combine poetry with theater, dance and music, making poetry recitation more appealing. A recent video of Rene Verma giving a much needed verbal bashing to Yo Yo Honey Singh through her rap poetry was part of the monthly poetry recitation event organized by the group.

Apart from giving space to Indian poets and artists, the sessions also attempt to create a global poetry culture in Delhi by showcasing foreign artists. According to Saumya Chaudhary, manager at Delhi Slam Poetry, creating ‘ Multiculturalism’ is a big underlying idea of the whole project. Regarding the content of the shows, she said, ‘The poets talk about everything from personal to political. We have poets taking about falling in love to searching for identity. It’s all very diverse.’

Usually the recitals have a planned 45 odd minutes of featured artists followed by an open mike session which invites the members of the audience to perform.

‘In US, performances considered best mostly display angst. But there are a lot of underlying emotions within anger as well, which need to be explored. There can be fear beneath anger, and insecurity beneath fear.’ says Nichole Sumner, mentor at DelSlam. Having been an activist in the US, she now emcees DelSlam sessions apart from organizing workshops on poetry in schools and colleges, ‘To help give a voice to children and young adults.’

DelSlam provides a non judgmental space to people who have something to say and seek an opportunity to say it. It is a kind of space which the minorities, political or sexual, can use freely to talk about their reality, along with mainstream rebels and romantics.Screenshot 2015-02-22 15.02.56