Tag Archives: Superwoman

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.

Opening 2016 With A Voice: At Poetry Couture Open Mic With Karthik Rao


My first performance of the year opened on a good note. It has been exactly one year since I ventured in Performance Poetry and Spoken Word. In this time, I’ve learnt the difference between page poetry and performance poetry, examined poetic nuance and how it goes beyond basic rhymes. The stage also gave me a chance to face my fears, my terrors and meet residual emotion that had lain unused and unexamined till then.

This event was Poetry Couture’s feature+Open Mic Poetic Adda. They featured me in their last Poetic Adda event and I was very happy to return to this venue and a new audience, a different context from the spaces I’ve been at.

Karthik Rao who supported my foray into musical accompaniment last year with Flamingoes and then with The Poetry Club’s #UndoingGender event returned. We are both hoping to collaborate further and explore this union of music and spoken word in a big way.

We first performed ‘Superwoman’, my first ever really feminist piece. This started as a blogpost I wrote more than a decade ago, one of the first ones to appear on my blog. It was also the turning point where I realised I was going to have a lot to say about urban womanhood and gave rise to the blog I call XXFactor. Then, at 24, the poem was one-quarter my own experiences and the remaining fragments of lives of women around me and some conjecture. More and more I’m finding my own life has begun to echo this piece in a spooky fashion. It’s not entirely good because the piece is far from being happy. I can only hope that anybody reading this post (and this blog) realises that the life I’ve laid out in performance is not all bad. I’ve lived a largely fulfilling, happy life after all. Here again, in collaboration with Karthik Rao, is Superwoman.

The organisers were nice enough to allow us to do one more piece. Late last year, I realised that I wrote almost no love poems. This, when 90% of all songs and poems are written about love. It made me reflect on how I avoid thinking about love because it’s memories in my life are too painful. But, as with my Paper Plane, perhaps performing a positive piece will be my road out of darkness. I’ve resolved to write and perform a lot more love-related material. I know me and I am coming to understand how I love so this will be far from mushy or rose-coloured. But maybe I can learn to build my brand of beautiful, flawed love too. Here is Patchwork Relationship.

I’ll take it as a good sign that both of these came through well, even though I had a bad cough (and woke up this morning completely voiceless). Here’s to a year of many more Spoken Word stories!

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*Also published on The Idea-smithy.

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.

Breaking Barriers With Art

Spoken Word Performance At Mukesh Patel School of Technology, Management & Engineering

It’s raining poetry and platforms to share it on! I’m not complaining though. Last week, I went to the Caferati Open Mic. This is the oldest of its kind in the city and the first one I ever went to. I’m afraid I messed up my performance a bit. But I’m going to blame that on the oil bath I’d had earlier in the day. It always tends to make me a bit groggy and slow and quite unlike myself. Even as I went up to the mic, I was in the pleasant haze of “It’s all good; everything’s awwight.”

Evidently my good mood must have made up for my lacklustre performance because I was approached by a group of youngsters. They were having a cultural festival at their college, they said, and would I come down and perform please? I laughed and I said,

“That’s a silly thing to ask a poet. Most of us, give us a table to stand on and say, PERFORM. And we’ll do it.”

Anyway, my breeziness had settled by the time I walked into Mukesh Patel College of Engineering two days later. A poetry performance to a bunch of engineers? This calmed me down a bit.

The event was themed ‘Equality’ so I picked Superwoman to perform. Besides, it had been awhile since I’d done that and I thought it would resonate with the young, vibrant crowd in the room.

I think it did. They let me stay on to do one more piece. And of course I had to sign off with my signature piece, Paper Plane.

This day made me very happy. There was the endorphin/adrenalin high of performing. There was the quaint campus charm of performing to an audience that’s seated on the floor around you. And I was very, very happy to be a part of something that broke down the rigid barriers between science and art. I met a lot of students who were talented singers, standup comics, dancers, musicians and poets. One of the other performances sparked off a loud debate on women’s rights, the LGBT movement and more. In the midst of the shouting match, one of the students leaned in and said,

“Very sorry if this sounds stupid. But I heard you saying something about ‘rape culture’. I don’t know what that is. Can you explain it to me?”

That was the highlight of my day. Art is fun and a real morale booster for me. But moments like these remind me that it also brings people together, transforms thought and shapes our lives.

It was a beautiful day.

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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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