No Sunday evening at Kalyaninagar ever fails to disappoint, and the one on the 11th seemed to take it a step further as The Writer’s Haven set up yet another magical evening, at the Classic Rock Coffee Company.  Even before the venue itself charmed the socks off people, the line-up seemed to be incredibly promising. Having performers like Aranya Johar, whose recent video ‘A Brown Girls Guide to Gender’ broke all previous Indian slam poetry records and went viral, and Harnidh Kaur, whose first book of poetry became an Amazon India bestseller and so did her second, brought in from all over the country, The Wryte did a marvelous job of curation. Even Shantanu Anand, the Founder of Airplane Poetry Movement and the brains behind India’s first ever National Level Poetry Slam, was present and performing.

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What’s more, the event went beyond simple poetry and also featured some marvelous music performances, the first singer of the evening being Sree Deshpande, going on to Dishaan Gidwani’s original compositions.

The event was also a charity centric event, with a portion of the proceeds being donated to Concern India Foundation, an organization that provides assistance to over 200 grass-roots level NGOs working across a wide spectrum of fields such as healthcare, education, Old Age care, etc.

The host of the evening was the charming Ratan Bakliwala, whose first instinct was to the set the stage with a Shakespeare quote. He went on to introduce Priyanka Menon, a fellow faculty at SCLA.

One of the most noteworthy performances that had the crowd snapping their fingers and guffawing in laughter, was Shantanu Anand’s performance – ‘What The F*ck IS Slam Poetry’. This ironic piece, a slam poem about slam poems, went on to dissect, using humour, the exact ways in which usual slam poems achieve their desired effect. While it began humourously, he went on to talk about how important the slam poetry scene has been for specific poeple, and how ‘He has seen the scars on its arms’. He talked about how he has seen people mutilate themselves for the sake of their art on stage, and the feeling of freedom it brings to lay yourself bare on a stage. The performance left the crowd clapping their arms off in appreciation for this wonderufl performer.

Another noteworthy performer of the evening was Nidhi Krishna, a lovely 17-year old girl whose poem was titled ‘My Melanin Is Having a Dance Party’. Her astute observations and brilliant performance style won her the stage, and quoting her poem –

“My melanin does not know which words to use to apologise to all the Nigerian students who have been treated like they are not welcome in this country,
A country which is both victim & perpetrator, my melanin is having a dance party.”

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One of the other performers that shook the stage and shocked both audience and performers alike, was Raunak Daswani’s piece, a piece that spoke out against fat-shaming and somehow managed to integrate a plethora of other issues tied up to it. Her bold vulnerability on stage and unapologetic words set a course for the event that never faltered till it was over. The name of the piece was ‘To Self Love’ –

Dear Self Love,
You come in waves, and sometimes you leave a devastation of a tsunami in my mind,
but I try my best to fill the cracks with cement:
A face mask, a good book, and now chocolate as well.

The cement sometimes doesn’t dry the way I want it to,
it involves ugly crying,
picking myself apart,
skipping dinner.
It involves whispering ‘it’s okay’ over and over until you start believing it.
It involves recognizing the bad days but appreciating the good ones.

I may not be able to hold you,
I might sometimes forget what you look like,
but I’ll always carry your picture in my wallet, ask strangers if they’ve seen you,
and cling to the hope of holding on to you once again.

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Thus, the event was a living reminder of the wave of slam poetry that has just begun to hit India and will continue to do so, filling in all the tiny cracks against people until this country can be hole again. It’s existence, and its success is evidence to a cultural revolution of the written word as it makes its way into the spoken word. All in all, a wonderful way to spend a Sunday evening.

Written by Utkarsh Pathak
For the ATKT.in Editorial Team