‘Honey, today at work they called me a strong, independent woman, and told me I’m a disgrace for choosing to marry so young in the same breath. Their women empowerment comes with terms and conditions apply…’ These are the lines from a poem recited by Gargi College students Diksha Bijlani, Shubhra Awasthy, and Cheryl Mukherji at the National Youth Poetry Slam (NYPS), a competition they went on to win. The team will now represent India at College Union Poetry Slam Invitational, Chicago (CUPSI) in April 2017.
“We are really excited to be the first college students to represent India in the field of spoken word poetry at the international level. We will also get to show people that there is a literary revolution taking place in our country,” says Bijlani, final year student of applied psychology, adding, “We feel it’s amazing that an all-girl team won.”
The teams will get 45 minutes to present their verses at CUPSI, in different combinations. About the subjects, she says, “We will perhaps touch upon subjects that impact us as Indian women and citizens, and things we deal with on a daily basis, such as what feminism is in India, our experiences with our rapidly changing and often extremely regressive society among other things.”
Clarifying their themes, Bijlani adds, “Our poems will focus on issues that are culture specific but also universal in some way. We will of course perform our winning piece, which talks about how there is no room for women to do as they please in the movement of women empowerment. We are also considering a piece on how female friendships empower women – which we will show through an analogy of bra shopping.”
In the last few years, spoken worD poetry has gained a huge audience in Delhi University (DU). Even slam poetry competitions, open mic events and poetry clubs have started mushrooming in various colleges. Awasthy shares the varsity is now home to some of the best poets. “I think students are at the forefront of spoken word culture in Delhi. Most of the slams I’ve been attending are being organised by students of DU. It’s also heartening to see colleges such as Ramjas, establish a poetry society and students from different colleges as well as universities coming to the events organised by such societies,” says Awasthy.