Singaporean writer/performer Deborah Emmanuel (left) and Nepali poet Yukta Bajracharya during a panel discussion in the travelling poetry festival ‘Word Express: The Spoken Word Jatra’ at Kathmandu Guest House, Thamel. (Bijay Gajmer/Republica)
KATHMANDU, Sept 20: Word Warriors, a collective of young Nepali spoken word poets, are running the ‘Word Express: The Spoken Word Jatra’, a travelling spoken word poetry festival. Jointly organized by Word Warriors and Kathmandu based bookstore Quixote’s Cove, the festival that started on September 17 in Kathmandu features ten Nepali spoken word poets and seven international spoken word poets. The festival is to culminate on September 24 after touring four cities – Kathmandu, Lalitpur, Chitwan and Pokhara.
The list of international poets includes Sarah Kay from USA, Melizarani T Selva from Malaysia, Deborah Emmanuel from Singapore, Divya Dureja from India, Rochelle D’Silva from India, Zainab Zahra Syed from Pakistan and Zuela Herrera from Philippines.
They are joined on tour by the team of Word Warriors consisting Isha Bhumi Shrestha, Kriti Adhikari, Nasala Chitrakar, Nawaraj Parajuli, Pramod KC, Rochak Dahal, Samip Dhungel, Ujjwala Maharjan, Venisha Udas and Yukta Bajracharya.
On the opening day’s panel discussion ‘Page vs. Stage’ that took place in Kathmandu Guest House in Thamel, Deborah Emmanuel, Melizaran T Selva and Yukta Bajracharya compared written form of poetry with performance poetry.
“The poems that are performed on stage speak the identity of the poet and talk a lot about the poet’s personality. But sometimes the written poetry is much liberating because you can allow the readers to imagine and interpret the piece in their own mind,” said Emmanuel.
Selva noted that performance poets still face condensation. “Major literary festivals will not consider you a legit poet until you have published your poetry. It is not just enough to have your performance videos.”
But even with criticisms from the purists, the gap between page poets and performance poets is slowly closing down, said Bajracharya.
With the ‘Word Express’ festival circling four cities, at each stop the poets will be seen performing poetries and holding discussions on various dimensions of the spoken word art form and its implications to be a tool for community activism.