“I have cats,” I say, with a smiling countenance
“I have cats,” I say to explain sleeplessness.
“I have cats!” I cry, hiding my arms
“I have cats…” But nothing changes the alarm
She recited passionately line after line in front of eager listeners at the poetry slam at Cocoberry FJs. Standing up in the corner of the cafe’ she captured everyone’s attention. Fair and pretty like many girls you see on Fergusson road, Aashna Iyer was showing a part of herself not many would have had the chance to observe.
There were cats everywhere in that poem of hers. They were under her bed, dictating the composition of her wardrobe, making her laugh, making her cry and teaching her the meaning of life. I never knew that cats could do so much in your life before. (The only cat I had ran off in six days).
It was a delight to watch Aashna. The little movements of her hands, her face was changing expressions one after another so fast that they were a poem in themselves. Earnestly she nodded her head when she entreated to the audience showing all her scratches on her arms- “Show me what else could have caused this?” she asks. You agree with her wholeheartedly.
It was Aashna and her poem that gave me real clarity on why we all listeners and speakers were there at the poetry slam. Ashna Iyer, who saw the event invite posted somewhere in the entrails of cyberspace, turned up and for four minutes shared something that she really cared about in a funny, entertaining and heart warming way.
She was also kind enough to mail me the text of her poem. Even as I read it now, I can see her perform. I marvel at the effort put into the composition which her recitation makes seem so natural and effortless.
First poems and recitations have an innocence about them. Like personal treasures finally put out in the open, a little girl wearing a grown up dress for the first time, shy and proud that she can waltz and twirl it shyly.
Aashna was not shy, but her poem for me at least held a certain shyness. It may not be her first recitation, but it was her first recitation here in front of all of us. And let me tell you it was a sweet thing to witness.
When the poetry slam ended we were gathering around waiting for the results. While talking we slammers were asked why we come here. We said we come here to protest and create fine art, create a culture of poetry, raise issues and indulge in philosophy. They were all valid and honest answers but I think the main reason we do gather is to pour our heart out, and listen to others pour out theirs.
It is this that makes connections faster than dating, faster than family, faster than hanging out at the tea shop with friends.
Because each of those times we are angling to create a situation in which we can express ourselves. In the slam sessions we bypass all of that. For four minutes we can stand up and bleed like nothing else matters.
Those are the poems and the poets we want to hear. Poems our intellect may reject but that come from the heart. These poems may or may not win a slam but give a reason for the slam to be. As for quality, it is but a matter of skill and practice, slowly it will develop in all of us.
So there you are, this is why I am a poetry slammer and this is why I want to come over and over again. To watch the Aashnas of this world bleed so eloquently and personally that we start giving a damn about their cats. And to bleed myself so people will give a damn about what matters to me.
You should all be there next time. Because it is not Just Aashna Bleeding her heart out there.
There is Manasi. You think it would be crazy for someone to attend a slam in the middle of their high school finals? Well- organising them in totally insane. This girl will be prime minister one day (she is already a great poetess-slammer). There is Shantanu and Nandini- they go around doing poetry workshops with a passion I wish I had when I was in college. Composing fine poetry and rehearsing and reciting along the way. There is KC- He has won both slams so far and you have to be pretty damn good to do that. His poems are simple personal effective and are backed with a real flair for presentation. There is Tushant, he is brave enough to write about things we are too scared to think about. Though his poems are long, he really tries to put some meaning into them. There are so many other people who made it so amazing, right from the staff at the cafe’ who are beginning to enjoy the poetry quite a bit. I wish I could name all of them and thank them for taking everyone’s poems to heart and performing their work bravely.
So please slam with us next time. Because there will always be a few surprises, someone coming out of the blue to express themselves, someone that comes up with something totally new to present or some new fun thing that we try which someone comes up with on the spot. Once again- be there.
Slam at the Pune Poetry slam- the poetry is great and there is free frozen yoghurt for the winners.
Slam because we want to listen to the outpourings of your heart.
Slam so we can open up our heart to you.
Slam it- because you have four minutes to bleed- On the 23rd of February 2014. 3.00 PM, Cocoberry FJs, next to Vaishali Hotel Fergusson Road, Pune, State- Maharashtra, Country- India
For those who think that poetry is worth something please like Pune Poetry Slam on Facebook and support and encourage them. Come to our slams, they are an amazing experience, and while you are at it on Facebook like the AntibioTick Facebook page too.