Tag Archives: Spoken word performance

Thank You For The Paper Planes

I returned to the poetry circuit last week. Yes, I have been performing here and there but only where I’ve been pulled in. 2017 has hit me with so many things, I’ve needed to stop and regain my breath. I wrote a new piece and read it right off my screen. And then I was glad for a chance to bring back my first piece. It always gives me a new lease on life, when I live through the Paper Plane performance. A young poet who I know slightly, reached out to me later to thank me for sharing that and said she needed to hear just that, on that day. All I can feel is immense gratitude for this idea choosing to come to the world at all, and through my head. Thank you for all the paper planes.

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If you liked this post, you’ll want to follow the Facebook Page and the Youtube channel. I’m Ramya Pandyan (a.k.a. Ideasmith) and I’m on Twitter and Instagram.

And Then There Was Music

I sang today.

Actually it’s the second time this week. Earlier this week, I met a friend visiting from out of town at what turned out to be a karaoke event. I sat through an hour of people rollicking in songs I did not recognize, trying hard not to feel outdated and irrelevant. And then my group picked out a nostalgia track that took me back to when singing was fun.

"Am I the only one? Am I sexual?" feat. @febwinsta and @abhishekaggy

A post shared by Ramya Pandyan (@ideasmithy) on

In case you’re wondering….the original:

Just before it was time to leave, something swung into place. A new year I realised, new resolutions, new promises and all that means the old burdens don’t exist any more or don’t have to matter anymore. The microphone is not new to me anymore and with karaoke, you don’t really expect anyone to be superlative in their mastery of the song or even memory of the lyrics. I chose this slightly (now) obscure song to pay tribute to the Angry Girl I started off as at seventeen. And it was good.

Today was Tuning Fork’s first challenge of the year. They had us write a piece in an hour to a prompt and just before going up on stage, they told us we’d have a predefined mood to render the performance. I started in fits & jerks, picking pieces of pretty lines and unfinished poetry from my stash. Then I decided to set those aside and go with a story that’s been lurking in the back of my lungs, waiting its turn while my voice, throat and mind got comfortable on stage.

This was the story I told. And the mood I picked was ‘Happy’ which felt like 2017 continues to be on my side and help me stay well, happy. I just listened to my performance and I’m so happy there’s still music inside me.

It feels like I’m seeing someone I’ve known all my life in a new light. Thank you for the music and the microphone. 2017, I thank you for your gifts.

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If you liked this post, you’ll want to follow the Facebook Page and the Youtube channel. I’m Ramya Pandyan (a.k.a. Ideasmith) and I’m on Twitter and Instagram.

The Stage Was My Doorway Out

I’ve had a rather nice September after the rough times before that. Looks like my health diagnosis was a step in the right direction. I took a break from the Open Mic scene for a month which is why there haven’t been too many poetry videos. But if you saw this post, you’ll know September brought me a bouquet of special poetry performances. That this happened right during a time I decided to take a break itself seems like a sign from the universe to me. And living through them makes me sure. I feel like I’ve finally walked through the doorway of that dark, deep dungeon I’ve been imprisoned in for years.

So, in the order in which they happened:

Gaysi‘s DirtyTalk was the one that I wrote a special piece for. I was super nervous, not helped by an unexpected Encounter, minutes before my performance. Maybe I will write about that in more detail another time. Or maybe not, it was probably the fullstop that I’ve been needing for four years. I went on to deliver the following performance and it was a great one, if I do say so myself. I really want to thank the organisers as well as the audience. You have no idea how much this performance was a turning point in my life. It was reprieve after years of struggling.

The very next afternoon was the Radiocity Free Verses feature event, where I had the pleasure to meet the vivacious Harnidh Kaur who I’ve been hearing about for ages. I enjoyed her poetry. I wasn’t feeling very well and my hands were shaking (after a long time). But again, I think that added to the flavour of my opening piece ‘A Lover of All Things Digital’. It’s nice to remember how far I’ve come from a stage-petrified girl to a feature performer.

And finally, I got to be one of the 100 Thousand Poets for Change at a ‘Women Empowerment’ themed event hosted by the US Consulate at Kitabkhana. I know a theme like that seems tailor-made for me so I brought out my old favorites ‘Superwoman’ and ‘Feminist Poetry’. I am enjoying being the fun, irreverent, fresh end of things. I don’t think I’ve been the fun side of any group that often. I wish I were also the funnier side but that’s for another blogpost. Here’s my performance from that day.

Planet Radiocity Freedom aired my recorded performance four times this month. Eventually, they’re bound to put it up in the archives and I’ll share a link then. In the meantime, they also ran a short interview with me and the photo feature from the Free Verses September event is up on the site right now.

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For a lot of reasons, I feel like I was carrying around a gigantic boulder in my mind that was blocking everything. That boulder has just been set aside. I’m still raw from where it was dragged out. But I can suddenly breathe better and see more clearly. September has been about clearing the stones and letting the dust settle. I have been to hell and back. I enter October with a lot of hope and a nod to the Sandman.

hope

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If you liked this post, you’ll want to follow the Facebook Page and the Youtube channel. I’m Ramya Pandyan (a.k.a. Ideasmith) and I’m on Twitter and Instagram.

 

Come September, Feature Month

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I’ve been off the Open Mic scene this month. I decided to take a break to rest my frayed nerves and also my voice. But happily, poetry happens all around and it happened to me in a big way. I have the happy privilege of being a feature performer at three different events this month.

Gaysi DirtyTalk

First, on Saturday is a scheduled line-up for Gaysi’s DirtyTalk. I had the good fortune to be around during the inception of this blog which has grown to be India’s foremost online voice of the LGBT community. The annual DirtyTalk event started years ago and the quality of their performers has been superlative. I never had the confidence to attempt a performance there, even though the Gaysi folks have been super warm and welcoming (I’ve stuck to my safe space of words from behind a screen). But this year and all these adventures later, I nudged them and asked if I may be considered. To my thrill (and now, oh god, panicpanic), they agreed. The event has a line-up of 13 performers and I’m one of them! I promise you, it’ll be an evening of glitzy colour and spicy words and yiiiiii I get to be one of them.

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Date: Saturday, 17 Sept
Time: 6:30PM
Venue: Link Room, Above Starbucks, near Linking Road, Bandra West
Tickets: Rs.400
Event pagehttps://www.facebook.com/events/1120545671373812/

RadioCity FreeVerses

The fun continues into Sunday when I get to be one of the three features at RadioCity’s FreeVerses live poetry event.

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Date: Sunday, 18 Sept
Time: 1:30PM-2:30PM
Venue: Monkey Bar, near Linking Road, Bandra West
Tickets: Free entry
Event pagehttps://www.facebook.com/events/1774041326189337/

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Also, last month, Planet RadioCity invited me to record for their Freedom show. My poetry will be up for listening in a couple of weeks. Interesting experience that, being inside a radio studio. I’ll write more about this when the recording comes up.

100 Thousand Poets ‘Readings on Women Empowerment’

And finally, the US Consulate invited me to be one of their line-up for the 100 Thousand Poets event in Mumbai.

Date: Friday, 23 Sept
Time: 5:30PM-7:30PM
Venue: KitabKhana, Flora Fountain, Churchgate
Tickets: Free entry
Event pagehttps://www.facebook.com/events/620714031440915/

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I have a different set planned for each event. And at every one of these three events, I’ll be sharing the stage with some very prolific and diverse performers. If you enjoy poetry, if the spoken word tickles you, if performance charms you or even if you just love me, please come to any one or all of them.

A big thank you to Anuja Parikh, MJ (you know who you are), Shalin Choksi and Rochelle Potkar for making this such a wonderful September for me!

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If you liked this post, you’ll want to follow the Facebook Page and the Youtube channel. I’m Ramya Pandyan (a.k.a. Ideasmith) and I’m onTwitterand Instagram.

 

New Spaces But The Stage is Always Home

I’m always looking for new spaces, venues and people in poetry. I’m a very social creator and I find my creative juices flowing with novelty and fresh perspectives. So when I heard about an Open Mic being organised at the Mumbai metro, I jumped to it! Spoken Word derives from several disciplines (right from the African bushmen’s storytelling to the American frontiersmen’s tall tales to Indian village streetplays – many of which are street performances). I saw this as a chance to do the same in a more contemporary setting. I was rather hoping that we’d be performing in one of the public spaces at a metro station, with people passing by. Instead they had cordoned off one small area at Ghatkopar metro station. Still, it was just as noisy and bustling, with a flea market across the bridge and planes flying overhead (who knew Ghatkopar was in any flight path?).

I opened with a revamped version of Flamingos, given it is my only real piece about the city. I’m going to keep refining this one till it becomes the story I want to tell.

We had time for seconds so I went in with Paper Plane, which is not only my go-to signature piece but also the gift that keeps giving. It gives me a shot of energy, a life lesson every time I perform it.

After that Gautam and I went on to another Open Mic we had heard about at another place. This one turned out to be primarily for actors. It was heart-warming to see such spaces available to all the performing arts. A lot of us tend to take a very condescending attitude towards actors and dancers. Jokes abound about ‘the Aram Nagar strugglers association’. But in becoming a performer, I realised how much generosity of spirit, how much strength and courage is required to take pieces of your soul, turn it into art and hold it up for the world to be cruel about. My respect for the other performing arts has been renewed.

The folks at Kabeera presents were very welcoming even though poetry is not acting. I was a bit worried since I am an English performer and there is a minor form of linguistic racism at work in poetry circles. But one of the audience members actually spoke up and said,

“Why are we assuming such things? We are all artists here. Art goes beyond language and other boundaries.”

And true to form, they were really very receptive when I performed Paper Plane.

I’ll be going back there if they’ll have me and even if only to watch their performances. What a lovely Sunday it was!

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If you liked this post, you’ll want to follow the Facebook Page and the Youtube channel. I’m Ramya Pandyan (a.k.a. Ideasmith) and I’m on Twitter and Instagram.

 

Performing To The Gallery: Alcohols & Men – Tuning Fork

I went to an Open Mic after nearly three weeks and I’m glad I picked that Monday to do it. It was an evening rife with unusual performances, from a poem-turned-song to a monologue to a haiku battle to a truly moving piece that made everyone’s eyes well up.

I had a piece I wrote awhile ago and have never performed. But something about the weekend that went by made me want to retain my good mood (that piece is, in keeping with my monsoon temperament, melancholy). So I switched at the last minute to one of the lightest pieces I’ve written and performed just once before at a comedy routine. It made a lot of people laugh and it made me sparkle just as though I’d had that much of my favorite alcohol (I’ve been on the wagon for months now).

There will be an I Wear post in video coming up sometime later. And in the meantime, here’s ‘If Alcohols Were Men

The blogpost that this was based on was written nearly 7 years ago and is here.

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If you liked this post, you’ll want to follow the Facebook Page and the Youtube channel. I’m Ramya Pandyan (a.k.a. Ideasmith) and I’m on Twitter and Instagram.

On Motherhood, Discomfort & Poetry

I’ve had a breather from work and life’s madness and I find myself able to write again. Surely you can’t have missed the volley of blogposts all of a sudden. Poetry is flowing again too. Here’s my scathing tribute to Mother’s Day. At all three places there were cautious claps and that uneasy sense of errr…umm ness. Good, I never promised you a rose garden.

I had a chance to perform this piece at three different places but this is the best of them all. Tuning Fork is fast becoming my favorite stage.

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If you liked this post, you’ll want to follow the Facebook Page and the Youtube channel. I’m Ramya Pandyan (a.k.a. Ideasmith) and I’m on Twitter and Instagram.

My Fortnight In A Playlist of Poetry

I haven’t really felt like writing much of late. I also haven’t felt like talking or socialising as much. It has been a month of enjoying the cliched ‘my own company’. And no, I don’t mean solo dates. I mean, there is so much going on even when I’m only talking to myself.

Anyway, I haven’t exactly been antisocial. There has been work. And in addition, I’ve been going to a lot of poetry events. That doesn’t feel as much like socialising, especially if it’s newer venues and events. I’ve been seeking the last actively for awhile and I found two. They’re great for now because they are fresh enough to be open to all forms of poetry and attract completely fresh slate minds. So yes, there’s cliches, there’s teenage angst and canned feminism and stale cynicism. But it comes from unfamiliar faces, in newer stories. And best of all, the career poets haven’t showed up as yet. These are the people who are approach poetry, performance and events the same way mid-level managers approach corporate events armed with visiting cards and antacids.

I realise how bitchy that sounds considering a fair lot of them are known to me. I hesitate to call most of them friends because I learnt more than a year later that they’re no different from the b-school alumni meet crowd. There used to be a certain quality to the poetry with performers like this but now it’s all so formulaic and worst of all, drowned in the politics of who’s getting showcased, who’s performing on which show, who got paid and how much. And with all that comes the condescension, the backbiting, the sniping (in whispers and in poetry). Writers are truly appalling people. Well, people are appalling people.

Anyway, I discovered entirely by mistake two new platforms. The first was Art Refurbish’s poetry slam + Open Mic at Khar Social. The crowd was entirely unfamiliar. I made it in late after having wrapped up a three hour webinar and a trek through the heat. The freshness of the performances and the audience was invigorating. I was one of the last performers and I did ‘Paper Plane‘ but I felt like I was experiencing it for the first time. Truly, this is a wonderful medium that allows your old stories to be reborn with every telling.

The Hive feels like homebase now but the crowd was almost all new and there was a new host too. For all intents and purposes, that makes it a new event. I brought out ‘Paper Dolls‘ from my TARQ event earlier this year.

Tuning Fork turned up two events within the space of a week. The first time, I was wearing a saree just because I was in a mood to. And I went in with ‘Feminist Poetry‘ well, because I thought it would be funny to do that particular piece when the audience probably expected more ‘respectable, traditional poetry from the woman in the saree’. An old poet-friend had referenced angry feminists in his heartbreak poetry earlier. I called him out mid-performance and the audience laughed, him along with them all. 🙂

The next week, I was determined to not continue with the feminism theme. I had attended the Caferati Open Mic at Prithvi earlier in the evening after all. Karthik showed up as a surprise and we performed ‘Lullaby‘ there.

But at Tuning Fork later in the night, one young man started his piece addressing the (exaggerated airquotes) FEMININAZIS in the audience. Several people turned around and looked right at me and when it was my turn, they hooted. So I changed my plan and went in with ‘SuperWoman‘.

And then, when I finished, I got off the stage, changed my mind and returned to request another performance. I concluded with ‘Paper Plane‘, my third rendition in two weeks (I also addressed Manisha’s Creative Writing class and concluded my talk with a rendition, not recorded).

Later that night, the young man came up to me and said “Well played.” I grinned back at him. This is so cool. Banter and conversations in poetry. Me for the world, only in poetry. I’ll enjoy it while I can.

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*If you liked this post, you’ll want to follow the Facebook Page and the Youtube channel. I’m Ramya Pandyan (a.k.a. Ideasmith) and I’m on Twitter and Instagram.

“Goddess” — A Navratri poem opening at Poetry Couture’s Poetic Adda

“Goddess” — A Navratri poem opening at Poetry Couture’s Poetic Adda Poetry Couture invited me to a feature performer at their Poetic Adda event yesterday. I’d been working on a special piece around Navratri so I chose to open it here.

I had originally planned for this to be accompanied by music but my collaborator changed his plans at the last minute. I didn’t really have much time to change the piece but I decided to go with it to see how it fared. Here it is, ‘Goddess‘ in it’s first ever telling. The lyrics are given below.

Rush hour horns honking

The pounding is getting louder, louder, louder
An artist brushes his last stroke of charred black across her eyes
While living red starts to seep down my insides
She is coming home tonight
I fidget uneasily in my chair
Fighting the battle of the sore back
I remember too late, I’m wearing white
I will stay in late so no one sees the stains
Red must only appear on her clothes tonight
I burst forth into a night of burning light and colour
While inside me is an implosion of almost, not quite life
I carry it all within, walking tender, concentrated steps
My stomach clenches harder than my heart
Then I’m swept into a crowd that makes way
for a plaster and plastic Goddess
A hand drunk on religion and womanpower and bhakti, touches my breast
And all across my skin, are fire-tipped arrows
Shooting pain, warmth, shame, fear, chills and anger
A rollercoaster mix of chemical feeling
I’m recognized as WOMAN
The female form is in celebration this week
I soothe my panicked breaths under hot water
And silence my inner screams with chocolate
Outside the drums are beating out an ode to womanhood
No room for me in the Goddess’ procession tonight
Because my sweat and my tears are but salt and water
But nobody wants to know that a Goddess bleeds too
— Goddess by Ramya Pandyan

I started my performance with ‘Paper Plane’, for a change making it the first and not the last piece in my set. It was an interesting experience staying on, on the stage after sending a paper plane into the audience. I added some things to my original piece too. Take a look.

The organisers offered me a chance to do one more piece. I had originally thought I’d bring out ‘The Dating Thing’, being that it has been awhile since I did that. But the mood felt like the right one for a love story to Mumbai. So I let ‘Flamingos’ fly.

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