It was early in April of last year, when I’d first met Karthik Rajan also otherwise known as KC Vlaine, and I saw a video of him reciting a poem that he’d written. It was eloquent and beautiful, the only other time I’d seen anything like it was in Button Poetry videos. I was elated, to find out that Pune does not only have talented poets but an entire infrastructure to share and perform their art known as Pune Poetry Slam (PPS).
Expression is key in any art form and spoken word liberates this almost imperfect notion of emoting, it’s untethered, out-of-control and immediate. Manasi Nene had the same idea when she started Pune Poetry Slam, she says, “The immediacy of the whole process appealed to me greatly, because there is something about connecting with your audience right then and there and to be able to look the poet in the eye and experience what they are feeling.” A self-proclaimed ‘run-of-the-mill-idealist’, she started a Facebook page in July of 2013 with nothing to lose and in a few months, with the help of Hina Siddiqui, organized the first Slam event at Malaka Spice. This particular Wednesday evening was attended by English majors from Fergusson College and a few friends, where she met Shantanu and Nandini who went on to form the Airplane Poetry Movement.
The event was modest and yet it garnered promise because there is so much talent and potential in the city. It gives home to literature and poetry nerds (Yes, I’m guilty as charged) as well as opens up the people watching and listening to this whole new avenue that previously only existed on laptop screens, when we voraciously watched every video online, from every possible country.
In the past year, PPS has gotten its much deserved attention; members of the group like Karthik, Manasi, Apurv Inamdar, Srijan Dubey, Shantanu Anand, Priyam Redican, Chandrakant Redican, Mayank Susngi, Tushant Mirchandani, Aashna Iyer and Priyanka Menon have performed all over the city at different venues and have even done radio interviews thus telling them about this art form.
Manasi has never really had a hard and fast construct for PPS, she hopes for it to become a platform for social change and to develop into whatever it needs to be, because she, along with her arsenal of poets, wants to break this mould that spoken word has taken; in this form everything is extremely intense, almost to a point of being predictable. Different poets have different styles, often combining their art with visuals and music. She likes that there are no boundaries because then it can be a place for young kids to find a voice or for people who’re bored of retirement to come and share their life experiences. “I actually like how I don’t know where exactly this is going because that keeps it open to take its own course, without any language or caste barriers. It will ultimately become an amalgamation of whoever shows up” quotes Manasi.
They PPS team meets up every month and organizes slam events every now and then. So if you like the idea of it and would like to be a part of it as a poet or simply as an audience, you must make sure you do not miss out on the next one!