Never mind the numbers


For the Word Warriors, the month of March was mostly about sifting through the applications of interested participants who wanted to be further involved with Write to Speak (WTS) workshops, sitting together for hours on end discussing and preparing for workshops and getting prepared for the month of April when the first round of WTS Intensive Workshops would take place.

The WTS Intensive Workshops are a series of sessions on spoken word poetry that deal with not just writing and performing but also creating an atmosphere of spoken word in one’s own community. Each intensive workshop is divided into three phases, with each phases consisting of three different sessions.

20 participants from a pool of about 50 interested ones were selected for the first WTS Intensive Workshops in Kathmandu. These participants were chosen primarily because of their interest, participation, potential in terms of writing and performing spoken word, commitment and backgrounds.

After all the preparation, when April finally arrived, the WTS Intensive Workshops kicked off with a lot of enthusiasm at the workshop space at Quixote’s Cove. Instructor Ujjwala Maharjan shares her own reflections on the before, during and after of the Write to Speak workshops.




For me, the first of the intensive workshops for Write to Speak in Kathmandu was a three-day lesson in acceptance – some things are just beyond our control.

We had scheduled the workshop from April 3 to 5 taking into consideration that the exams for most of the students would be over and they would be free around that time. A week before the workshop, I had called the 20 selected participants to inform them about the workshop dates and confirm their participation.  All of them said they would make it, except one- Chan. I hadn’t personally worked with Chan but I had heard all about him from my fellow WW instructors- about his enthusiasm and his potential.

“Lhaa, mam teti bela ta mero mildaina.. malai Baglung janu chha. Tara malai workshop ma ni aaunu mann chha, k garne mam?”

Chan did want to come to the workshop but he was going to Baglung, his hometown, for the first time in his life.  His tickets were booked as well. We did not want him to miss the workshop so I coaxed him a bit about postponing his trip. He said he would talk to his mother and call back. He called back, excited and told me the good news that he was coming.


 A day before the workshop, I called the participants again to give them a reminder. Then one by one, came in reasons they would not be able to attend- some of them were already in their hometown or villages for their holidays, one had sprained his ankle, one’s mother was away so she had to stay home to work (later we found out her father didn’t approve of her going to workshops not related to school; broke our hearts a little) and Chan too had to listen to his family and be in Baglung. The ticket had been preponed.

In haste, we called in other potential participants to fill in the vacant spots. We hit the number 19. But on the day of the workshop, after waiting for the participants to show up in Jawalakhel Chowk for around 40 minutes, we only had 15 show up.

The first day, I was a bit disheartened. We were missing out on some really bright participants. We had been working so hard on this and were eager to see it come to fruition. The second and third day, few more didn’t show up – some had events they had to be in, relatives in hospital they had to attend to and some said they wouldn’t be able to continue altogether.

The time before and after workshops gets really difficult sometimes- the planning, anxiety of how everything will go, then reflecting back on how it all went and things we weren’t able to do, wondering why students who didn’t show up didn’t actually show up and unnecessary worrying. I desperately need to learn to cut down on the worrying bit.

But when I’m in the workshops, actually doing what all the preparation, worrying and anxiety was for –  I’m happy. It is still one of the best feelings in the world for me and so it is for Yukta, friend, partner-in-poetry, WW instructor, who I am so glad is not a worrying-freak like me and can still focus and make us focus on things that actually matter.

“The joy when a “student” actually learns to come up with a clever metaphor, that lump in your throat when a “student” is brave enough to come up to the class and share her vulnerabilities, the twinkle and wonder in their eyes when they understand something new and are amazed by it…all in all, entering a classroom space is therapeutic for me.  ☺”– read her status after the workshops.

In the end, the workshop was also a lesson in reminding myself why I do this.  And no matter the numbers and things beyond our control, we still love what we do and believe it’s worth it all.


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Address: Quixote's Cove, Ekantakuna, Lalitpur

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