The rising popularity of spoken word poetry is giving a voice to artistes like Anuj Kumbhat, 26-year old who shifted to Mumbai from Kolkata to pursue a career in the corporate sector. And then he discovered spoken word and fell in love with it. Due to its immediacy and direct rapport with its audience, this type of poetry often contains references to current events and issues relevant to a contemporary audience. He has performed with popular poetry collectives including UnErase Poetry and Spill Poetry.
Tell us something about your passion for poetry?
So I used to write poems and stories at home as a hobby. I wasn’t aware about an art form known as spoken Word. It was only in my mid-20s when spoken word began to gain momentum internationally and I found out about it.
How did you get first introduced to spoken word?
I had been living in Mumbai for about an year and a half when a friend of mine invited me to a Spoken Word open mic. I remember visiting the event as an audience member, but I ended up performing one of my pieces. The Spoken Word community is a warm, loving group. I received so much appreciation that night. And since then I have been a regular performer.
What is your USP?
I think the audience wants to have a discussion on a wide range of subjects, and they want to hear the perspective of someone who was born and raised in an ordinary, relatable setup. I would like to say that, at this point, this would be my USP.
What are the challenges faced by you?
In my younger years, I had always struggled with taking decisions about my career. I think I lacked awareness. So, I pursued an education in a domain, and then walked into a career, which I wasn’t meant to pursue. But that is my personal struggle. From the perspective of the Spoken Word community, it will take us time to establish ourselves in India.
What are the learning outcomes in the whole process?
We must understand that, as artistes, our responsibility is to leave an impact on society. Our approach to revolution isn’t a violent one. Instead we’re inducing long-term change in a subtle way. Each artiste has something special to share with us if we’re all willing to lend our ears.
What are your achievements till date?
I haven’t achieved much yet. I remember my father had screened a video of mine at our home in Kolkata for a few of his friends. I think this love and support that I have received from my parents, and their pride and joy, is the only achievement which I found worth counting.
Who would you attribute your success to?
Community. I write terrible poetry. But I am moderately tolerable as an individual. And I have received tremendous affection from the Spoken Word community in Mumbai, in particular, and the across the country, in general. I would also invite everyone to be a part of our community. We love hugs and have so much love to offer.
What are your plans for the future?
I have no plans. I rely on accidents.
What is the learning lesson audience would get from your talks?
I wish they choose to follow their dreams and that they recognise that, no matter what their present circumstances, it’s never too late. I wish they understand that there’s something beautiful waiting for them.
I know how you have been feeling
You are a vast ship sailing in an ocean
Hopping from one island to another, in search of home
But how can you get lost, if we are sailing together