Tag Archives: Spoken word

Quoted in Mid-Day: Health – Speak Up Against Substance Abuse

I’m writing this post a little late since last week was such a flurry of activity. I performed at the Unerase Poetry against Drug Abuse event. And in the week leading up to it, I also got quoted in a Mid-Day story about using poetry to bring awareness to this cause.

Here’s what I said:

“When I was a kid, I remember a TV serial called Chunauti. It was trying to raise awareness against drug abuse. The Archie comic series that I read around the time also carried messages like, ‘Say No To Drugs’; I felt these were redundant messages. But, when I went to college and later to work, I realised they were a regular part of the world around me,” shares spoken word artist Ramya Pandyan, who goes by the name Idea Smith.

This week, Pandyan will be sharing her thoughts on drug abuse at a spoken word poetry event titled UnErase Against Drug Abuse.

Pandyan, meanwhile, hopes to share her thoughts on being startled at how “normal, everyday and invisible the addiction is – cigarettes that actually contain marijuana; detailed discussions among ‘cool’ people about the smoothest weed, the best rolling paper, etc. I’ve learnt not to judge the habit at face value. But I’ve also seen friends lose large parts of their lives to this addiction.”

My poem was a story of our individual journeys into addictions of different sorts. The video of the performance may come up in a few weeks.

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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.

Poets Talk — Quoted In The Afternoon Despath & Courier ‘More Power To Poetry’

The Afternoon Despatch & Courier (Afternoon DC) ran a story today about the emergence of poetry as a modern art form. I’m quoted alongside viral stars Aranya Johan, Sudeep Pagedar and InkStation founder Harshit Anurag. It’s great to see something that we are all so passionate about, receive widespread recognition.

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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 Showwoman Under The Paper Plane

It turns out I have a showwoman in me, once I let go of the painful things keeping me inside stage fright. Last Monday, I performed Paper Plane, my first ever piece and my guiding philosophy.

It gave me the impetus to do CoffeeShop, which people have really liked and I have a lot of fun doing. Enjoy! And thank you for the love. The only thing I love more than making people think is doing so with a laugh. 🙂

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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.

On Losing A Voice And Remembering How To Speak Again

This Monday I said two conflicting things within the space of an evening.
I said,

“This is my favorite stage to perform.”

Two hours later I thought,

“I’m not coming back here again.”

Let me tell you a thing or two about performing, about writing, about women’s voices and about men, men, men. The silencing, the hatred, the chauvinism, it’s relentless. It’s pretentious non-talents (usually male, small town North Indian origin) parading ada and fake Urdu to present stale ideas. It’s uber urban metrosexual men getting intoxicated and turning everything into jokes that are not really funny. It’s the in-betweens eating Instagrammable food and hoping you’ll swipe right on Tinder. But this is nothing new. It’s the story of every patriarchal, toxic masculine space.

But it’s also the sniping. It’s old boys’ clubs jeering every woman performer. It’s leching that happens in words and laughter rather than eyes so it’s harder to call it out. It’s passive-aggressive bullying of the “Settle down, honey. There, there, she got upset. Now silence, boys, give her a hanky. Look, you’re so pretty when you smile.” variety.

Then it’s the wheedling by ‘Nice Guys’ to speak softer, be gentler, talk about men’s good points.

This Monday was simply the last straw on my back. I decided to let them keep their male voices, talking to a male audience about how women are pretty/horrible creatures. This Monday, I decided not to go back and to hell with a world ruled by monsters called men.

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Raju recommended Sonya Renee Taylor’s ‘The Body Is Not An Apology‘ at an Alphabet Sambar meet last month.

This is why writers should first and foremost be readers. And speakers should be better listeners. I found Sonya’s powerful voice and gestures moving me as much as her words.

Today, I listened to her deliver ‘When The Shotgun Questions The Black Boy‘. Now this is a tricky one. While it’s politically correct to talk about #BlackLivesMatter, really what’s it like to be Indian on this? We face internalised racism within our country itself, not to mention what it’s like to be brown in multicoloured spaces. My ex bullied me and demeaned my intelligence frequently for not acting or thinking like a black person. But this poem, today, made me want to cry. It reached beyond what he said, what anyone else demanded I think or feel. It moved me beyond who I thought I was.

This is the power of good poetry and a good performer. It can change perspectives. It can make a person reach beyond their life and feel empathy, inspiration, anger, whatever the speaker wants them to feel.

I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to do that. But it’s sobering to know that as a performer, I share a space with people who change lives. I cannot let my individual annoyances take me away. As one of the few women performers in the city, I owe the stage at least that much. Artists and writers are responsible for moving thought forward for a civilisation. The world needs more women’s voices. I may not be the best but I’m part of the little that my city has. And I’m not going to let them down.

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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 Kindness Of September

September was kind.

I have had four milestone conversations in the last month. They’ve been hard, uncomfortable, cruel even. Why are we so cruel to each other? Out of fear, out of insecurity and from the mistaken assumption that caring is a finite resource that we need to dole out. But they needed to be had and I’m glad they have finally happened.

I’ve rewritten these events at least four times and then deleted them. I don’t see any point in talking about them any more. So, fresh start then. What does October hold? Less rain, I hope. We’ve had a good solid four months of monsoon and it’s really high time we see the sun.

I feel like I’ve really grown into Spoken Word. Running into the ex at at a performance was the last mental barrier to be breached. It did not kill me and it did not hurt my performance. The stage and I have built a gentle, loving relationship. Other people have tried to erode it and corrupt it in the past with excessive expectations, abuse, jealousy, rivalry, gender-based silencing and trolling. But September, September like I said, has been kind. My relationship with the stage (just like my relationship with another person) is my own and no one should be able to touch it.

I haven’t actually been writing as much in the past few weeks. But video has really taken off. It’s strange because I’ve never been a fan of the film medium. But the stories are lot easier to tell and they allow for several other things like sound and sight. Maybe it’s just the novelty. I have been sharing my performances, then my I Wear videos, general life snippets and soon, the outtakes too. Do hop over to my Youtube channel and check them out. I’m not doing this so much as a content professional as I am experimenting with a different medium of storytelling, just for fun.

The Tinder adventure has been great. I haven’t met anybody yet. But I’ve been having a few nice conversations. And what more can one ask from a social medium?

I guess the best thing about September has been that it has been a gateway through which I’ve felt able to move forward and out of the dark times of last year. Maybe goodbye is a kind word.

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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.

 

Shaping Spaces & Relationships: The Poetry Club @ Theosophy Hall

The Poetry Club tied up with the French Consulate to host a poetry workshop and Open Mic at the Theosophy Hall. They also did this last year after the COP21 conference where they asked attendant poets to write about environmental change. The piece that I wrote for that event was called ‘Climate Change‘. I can’t seem to find a recording so I guess I didn’t make one. This weekend, I brought up a more recent piece that I’ve been working on, one that’s more performance poetry than spoken word. And here it is, ‘Architect‘.

I’ve been missing the TPC monthly events since they moved out of cosy Vakoloft. But I’m going to try and get to more of their meets. It’s always wonderful meeting and hearing performer/poets like Saurabh Jain, Ramneek Singh, Trupthi Shetty and Ankita Shah. In addition to hearing some really quality poetry, I really like the mood that they bring to these events. These were the early Indian performers that I saw and interacted with and I’ve seen them shape and evolve alongside me. They’ve each managed to grow but also encourage and nurture the upcoming community (unlike some other venues/events). And finally, as a club, they come up with some really innovative events involving poetry. Watch for more soon.

If you enjoyed this performance poetry post in video, check out my other performances on this blog or follow the ‘Ideas on Stage‘ playlist on my Youtube channel.

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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 Twitterand Instagram.

 

Challenge Poetry: Wrong Time & Muse

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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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.

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