Young poets took to the stage as Mildly Offensive Content, a Spoken Word Poetry collective, celebrated its first birthday at a Vasant Vihar cafe last week. The interiors were brimming with people and — an indication of the devoted fan following of this group of performers — people were standing outside, their faces pressed to the glass just to hear them.
To understand what Spoken Word Poetry is, think of hip hop, now think of softer words backed up by harmonious instrumental pieces. The performance relies purely on emotion, gestures and facial expressions. Cheering and applause is replaced by the melodious sounds of synchronized snapping of fingers. Two major Spoken Word collectives exist in the Capital — Delhi Poetry Slam and Mildly Offensive Content. Both were created in 2013.
“My family’s a bunch of packers and movers. There’s always a room in every house full of cardboard and bubble wrap. / Some boxes, never empty ’coz in no time we’ll have to fill them again. / Old toys, Lego pieces. Tired of being built into a new house each time. Confused, not knowing which door’s the main door anymore./ And now, just waiting. Waiting to be built into a new one.” These words made up the performance of Ankita Naik.
Modern Spoken Word has evolved from the poetry of the Harlem Renaissance, blues music, the Beatniks and, most importantly, the African-American civil rights movement. Over the past year, it has entrenched itself into the cultural weave of the Capital with events such as “Words in Your Face” that featured Seattle Grand Slam winner Nicole Sumner last December.
“Spoken Word Poetry in Delhi has a distinct Eastern bent that reveals the ease with which performers have made this form their own,” says Justin Davis, Co- founder, Mildly Offensive Content. Watch out for poetry slam and open mic nights at Piano Man Cafe and Pot Belly Cafe.