It was only an hour before show time. Most of our Write to Speak participants had arrived. Some of them had even brought their friends with them. Today was the day they would be performing their own poems, in front of an audience for what would be the first time for many of them. Over the past few months, we had worked together to help them express themselves through spoken word poetry. We’d met a few times for three to five hours on some weekends, spending time on various activities that ranged from screaming our lungs out to dwelling in our memories to write about them to working with each other on becoming better performers. But most importantly we’d gotten to know a few shades of who we are and what stories we had to tell.
We did a round of rehearsals. “You need to be a little more expressive and less like you are reading off a paper. More eye contact. How about that other poem instead of this one?” Last minute suggestions were made. I wasn’t performing today and yet I was as nervous.
Time seemed to me passing swiftly at Quixote’s Cove (QC or Word Warriors HQ, as we like to call it). Our participants were pacing around the room with preparations. Shadiya was writing down a poem in Urdu, Kamal, who had come in the earliest and helped us with decorations of our office space for the event, was practicing his poem now. Nisha had decided her method of preparing was ‘not preparing too much’ at the last minute.
We formed a circle, held hands and took deep breaths together. Then all of us went upstairs, to our workshop space which we had turned into our Word Warriors Live event venue space. (Everyone in our office had helped with DIY room décor and the space looked pretty and cosy – just the right ambience for some spoken word poetry). We had a room full of 40 something people who showed up that day.
Since most of our Write to Speak participants were performing a spoken word piece for the first time, we thought it would be a good idea to make this a theme. Hence, we’d announced earlier that this time all our performers would be first timers. Ujjwala came up with the perfect name for this edition – Maiden Voyages and we decided to call it ‘pahilo pahila’, meaning first step, in Nepali. We’d selected four other performers from about a dozen who had applied and had a performing set of 13 people for the day.
The event sailed smoothly. Our very own Word Warrior Pramod KC hosted the event (coincidently, this was his first time as a host). All our performers were spectacular. Not everybody had mind-blowing spoken word poetry pieces, but all of them had taken the first big step of standing in front of a room full of a lot of strangers and voiced their thoughts.
As audiences, we snapped our fingers and clapped and cheered. We also provided feedback to all the performers. As for our Write to Speak instructors, we were all smiles. Instructors Nasala (who was also (wo)manning the camera and documenting these precious moments) and Anudeep couldn’t stop ‘aww-ing’.
We had an open mic with five eager performers after the main line-up. We also did a small certificate-distributing session for our Write to Speak participants since this was the final chapter of the intensive workshop (but hopefully, the beginning to something else).
We were all pleased with how the event went.As we were packing up, Samip said, “Yukta was sooo happy today.” I smiled. Yes, I was. We all were.
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Address: Quixote's Cove, Ekantakuna, Lalitpur