Speaking up with slam poetry

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Ever since the videos of Kalki Koechlin’s Noise, Printing Machine, or Aranya Johar’s A Brown Girl’s Guide to Gender, or Sarah Kay’s If I Should Have a Daughter went circulating — we knew that slam poetry was reviving even in the country. But, what about Hyderabad?

Gaining its momentum in the city of pearls, slam poetry is no more a new thing for Hyderabadis. Grabbing the interest and attention of a lot of youngsters in particular, there are Hyderabadis who write and perform slam poetry. And, while it’s a good time to show our support and watch them perform in different venues in the city, let’s take a closer look at what slam poetry is all about.

Its origin and what is it about

It is said that slam poetry was first introduced in 1984 when a construction worker by the name Marc Smith in Chicago began to perform poetry in order to democratise poetry.
It was Marc who worked on making slam poetry into a competition. Now taken up by many artistes, slam poetry is considered to be empowering and a medium to spread social awareness, while breaking away from formalisation of the art form.

“Slam poetry, to me, has no restriction with regards to anything and that’s why it is so beautiful and appealing to me,” says Mahek Jangda, a slam poet artiste. “It’s a different way of expressing yourself and simply coating it with rhythm, making it into an art piece,” adds Mahek.
Similarly, Drishti, the founder of Hyderabad Poetry Project, says, “Slam poetry comes from the heart. It often has a theme and talks about a social cause, which is slightly different from spoken word or performance poetry.”

Hyderabad’s slam poetry scenario

There is no denying that slam poetry is slowly making its mark in the city and there are venues that host such events.

The Hyderabad Poetry Project is also one of the active communities that initiates and encourages participation in this art form. They have hosted around 20 slam poetry events at cultural places like Phoenix Arena and in cafes like Chit Chat Chai.

“Though things have picked up comparatively, I really hope slam poetry in the city also gets enough recognition as stand-up comedy,” says Mahek.