I haven’t done a lot of Challenge Poetry. I used to enjoy writing prompts. But I was learning how I wrote and I needed triggers, little guiding arrows to how I could think and prompts serve as that. But since I started doing Performance Poetry/Spoken Word, I’ve approached the form with specific ideas that I want to express. So to pick up a prompt and write to it, has felt a bit…artificial?
Still, I thought it might be interesting to give it a shot. Try everything, should be any artist’s mantra and keep trying it. I went to the Great Indian Poetry Challenge earlier in the month and came up with Wrong Time, based on the same prompt.
And yesterday, I took on Tuning Fork’s first ever Poetry Challenge and received the prompt of ‘Makes me feel alive’. I wrote and performed a piece I called Muse (or StoryMaker) and it ended up getting voted the runner-up in English performances. The winner, a seventeen year old was eons ahead in quality but I think a teenager has the purity, the intensity of emotion that the rest of us can only remember.
I’m finding it interesting that I’m turning out Performance Poetry rather than Spoken Word at these challenges. Spoken Word feels like it has used less effort in crafting the writing. But my Spoken Word pieces have taken far longer to write, rewrite, edit and perfect over time.
For instance, I performed Feminist Poetry at the concluding Open Mic segment yesterday. Many of the people there have heard it before, more than once. It got a good reaction though. Manisha said, “It’s complete now.” and I know what she means. The piece fits like a beautifully tailored garment that sits comfortably and precisely on me. This has taken time, several rewrites, rethinkings, performances and iterations (with and without music, changes of order, removing and adding key ideas). Performance Poetry on the other hand, seems to get completed in a couple of iterations and then I recant from memory, just like I would a song.
Perhaps my next foray should be Improv, a field I have absolutely zero confidence in. Keep watching and thank you for listening.
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