I have been in Nepal now for almost 4 weeks and during that time have spent wonderful moments with my new Nepali family, visited temples and have even been mugged by a monkey – I was assured he was in fact only after my juice but I think he had more sinister intentions… I have braved the micro busses at peak hour, volunteered at some schools, eaten Pani Puri like a boss and fallen in love with Aloo Paratha (well I am Irish and love all things potato!)
It has been a pretty fulfilling time… but was lacking one vital element that is key to my life’s happiness: Poetry. So when I was told about The Word Warriors I got more than just a little bit excited and contacted them straight away to see if there was anything happening that I could tag along to. Yukta kindly informed me about the poetry session that was taking place yesterday at Quixote’s Cove and armed with directions and my notepad I set off.
In Australia I attend quite a few Spoken Word events as the power in this style of poetry ignites something in me which I have become well and truly addicted to. I have been writing poetry since I was 11 and have found it to be one of the most therapeutic and reflective forms of self care and expression. However… I am a great big chicken when it comes to performing and so never got up to recite any of my pieces, happy to just bathe in the glow of other’s intricate word dance.
From the second I walked into the little bookshop where the Word Warriors were gathering; I instantly felt a sense of calm and was welcomed with huge smiles and a genuine free spirited energy from the group. I sat and chatted to a few of the members about the work Word Warriors were doing around Nepal and was both thoroughly impressed and inspired by what I heard. As we spoke I heard a guitar playing in the background, the sound of jovial laughter filling the air and each and every person who entered the room was welcomed with warmth and love. It was a perfect atmosphere to get creative.
The session began with us all sitting around a table and doing an exercise similar to Chinese whispers but in written form: we were allocated one minute at a time to compose a line or two which continued from that written by the person sitting on our right. It was high pressure writing that was both extremely fun and challenging. Needless to say I loved every second. By the end we each had a piece of paper with input from all 13 members – a collaborative masterpiece.
The idea then was to get into the Dashain spirit and give flight to the words – with the company of music. We all picked a song that would mould with the overall ambience of our poems and read them out to the group – invoking laughter and smiles and sighs. Though nervous as I get to stand before a crowd and read; the safety in the room allowed me to do my part with relative ease. Relative as in: was shaking like an ant on a jackhammer but managed to get the words out in audible manner.
After the thrill of the game a few of us sang some songs – played guitar and decided we were in need of junk food. We then sat down again and began to share some poetry – both some of our own and ones which we love from other poets. At this point I am beginning to get anxious – do I just tell them I want to listen or do I suck it up and read out my stuff for the first time to a group…ever?? As I listen to a few poems being read out in Nepali I try to gauge the theme of the piece – I look at people’s faces and watch the crinkle of their mouths and widening of their eyes as the reader recites their verses. Sometimes translations are not a necessity to understand human interaction.
So I get asked to share and decide what better place to pop my spoken word cherry than here within the comfort of the young Word Warriors of Kathmandu. Not so much intimidated as daunted, not so much fearful as shy but regardless I share two pieces that I wrote while sitting on a rooftop in Dhungedhara.
I tried to let the words of my short soul filled stories flow with an unshaken voice and not think about the eyes upon me, the ears around me and the thoughts that I would never know manifesting in the minds of the other poets at the table. When I finished I exhaled deeply as I received a clap and supportive smiles from my peers and am proud that I have finally began to share. It is a good first step… and has encouraged me to want more.
As I continue to listen to the wonderful verses from the others I realise that everyone is a little nervous, everyone is a little reserved; because poetry is intimate. It is a verbalisation of a part of your soul. It is personal and therefore worth protecting, but also worth sharing. You never know what the power of words can ignite in someone – a thought, a memory, a hope, a forgotten feeling. We shared until everybody had a chance to voice some work, then swiftly moved to more jamming with the guitars. I was in my element. After a feed of momos and with the darkness looming I bid the group farewell and thanked them for the day, hoping to return to the warmth of this room soon.
How grateful I am that a space like this exists amongst the chaos.
How grateful I am that people like this exist; spreading the joy of Spoken Word to the youth of Nepal through workshops and events.
How grateful I am to have a group of new found friends and the knowledge that there is still magic for those who wish to find it.
A community of enthusiasm, kindness and creativity.
Thank you Word Warriors… long may you write to speak.
Photos: Nasala Chitrakar
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Address: Quixote's Cove, Ekantakuna, Lalitpur