When we, the Wordbred team, reached the venue of this poetry recitation event, titled “Khayaal… Let’s Word It”, the venue being Ardor, Connaught Place, we shared a mixed emotion. One mix was of confusion, since as a principle any reciting or performance venue has a dedicated stage, with all seats oriented towards it, whereas over here was just a narrow passageway flanked with seating on both sides. Another was of relief, as the small scale hinted at a smaller, more intimate crowd. Another was of curiosity, as we waited to see the participants, as well as meet the organizers.
While the place, as well as the whole of CP itself, seemed deserted at the sort-of morning hours of 11:30 AM, we soon got ample company by 12, the starting time stated in the posters on their Facebook page.
Before we attempt to talk about the event itself, here’s a little biography on the organizers of the whole programme – Le Artista.
A convenient way to sum up the whole biography will be the tagline of Le Artista: “Lets discover the artist in you.” An organization founded by Kavya Sharma, Annsh Chawla, Tanya Khatri and Ridhi Moza, Le Artista is yet very young, having started back in May this year (2016). Despite that, they’ve already amassed a following by the two events they’ve organized – namely, “Whispers”, an open mic poetry event back in August; and “Khayaal… Let’s Word It”, their currently arranged, and covered, event.
Le Artista is not profit oriented, as was evident by a lack of fee registration either for recitation, or for attending. Instead, as Kavya stated, it thrives on the extraneous efforts of all kinds of artists, not just poets, seeking appreciation. One such artist, showcasing her art in the very beginning of the event, is Ashima Narula, a sweet lady who made lip-smacking chocolate lollipops for us. Another is Sheryl Sadana, a singer in complete control of her legatos and her vibratos, who covered Lana Del Rey as well as Elvis Presley.
Since there is no monetary profit involved – even the money for booking arrangements comes from Kavya’s pockets – the primary aim of Le Artista is to provide all poets, closeted or prolific, a platform to not only showcase their original works, but also to get an audience and exposure. This exposure is twofold. Firstly, representatives of PepperScript, a publishing house, attend these events, and often shortlist some poems recited here to be published in their anthologies. Secondly, all performances are uploaded on their Youtube channel https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCAYZUadr99edmdQPyKkRU-A , which each performer can then showcase to their friends and acquaintances.
Speaking of performers, here is a brief introduction of each performer in this event. There was no restriction on the themes of the poems to be performed. The only restrictions were to recite either in English or in Hindi, to recite for at least two minutes, and to present only original content.
Each performer’s age and university/place of employment has been mentioned here, as were also used in their respective introductions before the recitation itself.
- Snigdha Bhaswati, from LSR. Her recitation was a reminiscence of her grandmother, and all the times spent with her in her younger days.
- Srishti Singh, employed at Indian Bank. Hers was a first attempt at Hindi poetry, and had several well-constructed couplets about how kharaab our zamaana is.
- Uppa Tsuyo Bantawa, working at American Express. Even though she was, self-admittedly, not very fluent at Hindi, she too had some highly poetic love couplets, which were greeted with a lot of cheers and applauses.
- Shashank Shukla
- Satyam Tiwari. His piece was dedicated to every single woman, and even though for the most part it drew from his close acquaintances in college, it also moved on to the roadside injustices, like rape and acid flinging, that the women in our country have to tolerate more than anyone should.
- Aalakshaya Hira, from Motilal Nehru College. His piece was an agitated diatribe against the corporate lifestyle, how we’re letting our humanity fade away in pursuit of developing a career.
- Sohil Vinayak, from Lancaster University, and also the unofficial representative of Wordbred. His piece, like many other pieces, talked about ladies, but then wandered off to debate the meaning of existence.
- Mariyam Fatima. Her recitation was very animated, and the piece itself was directed to a lover, with whom she expressed her desire to escape the society and live beneath the stars. This expression was really passionate, containing more profanities than Sohil’s piece.
- Aditya Arora, from SRCC. Breaking the trend from before, he went with a light-hearted subject of hair, and his Hindi-infused-with-a-healthy-dose-of-English recitation was as evocative and deftly orated, as it was humorous.
- Zahra Rizvi
- Aditya Bhandari, from NSIT. As with quite a few other NSITians, he got a roaring support from his college-mates crowded behind. He actually recited two poems, the first a light-hearted ranting of a 10 year old boy trapped in a 20 year old body, the second, accompanied with music, a chronicle of a short-lived, three day love story.
- Akanksha Gautam, from LSR.
- Rishabh Sobti, from Maharaja Surajmal Institute of Technology. His piece was another lamentation against the injustices that are being faced by the womankind in our country.
- Gaurav Upreti
- Jyotika Pruthi, from Lady Irwin School. Her satirical poetry covered her tryst with Baba “Naamdev”, and how the range of products released by his company has changed her life. The sheer level of ridiculousness, a one-sided love affair sustained through TV, the absurd products which, while seemingly improbable, are not too far away from their real life inspiration, had the audience in fits for pretty much the whole duration of the narration.
- Aatera Iman. Her recital presented the point of view of a prostitute, a day in her life where, instead of the everyday, greasy, emotionless job, she experiences a surprisingly passionate hour.
- Arpan Khosla, employed at Bharti Airtel Limited, and yet another alumnus from NSIT. Arguably one of the most popular poets at the venue, his Hindi couplets, rather than having a unifying theme, talked about various things, such as childhood vs adulthood, the grind of daily life, love and regrets, etc. His experience with street plays lent his oration a gravitas, such that even without a mic he could throw his voice to every member of the audience.
- Shasya Goel, from Jesus and Mary College.
- Anupam Jaina, from GGSIPU. One of the more soft-spoken reciters, his topic matter dealt with feeling like a stranger in a strange place all the time, never really having a sense of belonging, always feeling alienated.
- Kanak Garg, from Motilal Nehru College. The poem she decided to recite seemed to be a relic of an intimate time, dedicated to a particular lover, where instead of using flowery metaphors, she nostalgically listed down their shared memories.
A major factor in getting this planned event to fruition is a strict adherence to time. All the main 20 participants had to register and submit their poems online by 8th of September. Along with that, all attendees were urged to reach before 12 AM, and having witnessed quite some unpunctuality in such planned events, it was surprising to find more or less everyone on time.
We had a word with Arpan and Shashank, two participants who also attended the first event by Le Artista, after the programme got over. They stressed on how this punctuality was a key factor to the success of the day, since in poetry slams or so, one would witness a lot of time being wasted in initial introductions, while it was taken care of quickly over here.
About time management between jobs and poetry, Arpan said, “I have been preparing a lot and sometimes I bunk my office just because there is this event that I have to attend, maybe I’ll get fired someday but this is something that I enjoy doing a lot.”
A few others attested to Arpan’s complete disregard for job attendance, for the love of poetry.
Quite a few participants enjoyed more popularity with the crowd, such as the NSITian bunch, the people who’ve been attending Le Artista’s events since Whisper, of course the more closely affiliated members like Kavya, Sheryl, and Tanya Khatri, one of the co-founders and an open-mic reciter with a profound piece on self-harm. The cheers, the applauds (poetry convention dictates to snap one’s fingers as appreciation, but mere snapping did not satisfy the crowd enthusiasm), the laughs at each rhyming punchline indicated that they have become a close-knit society, despite having held just two events.
It was a pleasant experience to witness an event where performers came not for the money, not for the drinks, but just to get their work heard. If time, energy, and all other such physical quantities allow, we would love to cover more such niche events, where the only profit is promoting art.