How did you transition from being a rapper to a poet?
I don’t think we can really call it a transition. Rap is ‘rhythm and poetry’, so I think, I was always a poet through and through. I had started a forum called Insignia where rappers from India, Pakistan and other countries could get in touch with, battle, collaborate and make more music together. But, I took to spoken word poetry just a few years ago and felt that this was the form I could really work and experiment with.
Tell us about your initiative to popularise spoken word poetry in Delhi.
The idea behind this initiative was actually the lack of any open inclusive spoken word poetry spaces in Delhi. As an art form, it’s very young but gaining ground and I found it very disappointing that India with all its rich oral tradition had no events or spaces for the youth.
How is spoken word poetry different from slam poetry?
A poetry slam is just a competition where spoken word artists compete and win titles, etc, in a somewhat democratic way. Spoken word poetry is performance poetry, it’s story-telling, it’s experimental, it’s whatever you want to say to the people waiting to listen to you.
How long does your association with the queer slam poetry stretch back to?
Bring Back The Poets organised India’s first ever queer poetry slam ‘Extremely Queerious’ during the Delhi Pride in November 2014. My association with ‘queer’ poetry probably dates back to the first poem I ever wrote during my early teens.
How significant do you think queer poetry platforms are in India?
Why spoken word poetry clicks with the crowds is because it gives everybody (poet or no poet) an opportunity to say something, even if you don’t know how to.
What was it like to participate in the 100 Thousand Poets for Change World Conference 2015 in Salerno, Italy?
100 Thousand… is a non-profit collective of poets and activists globally. I got to share and learn from the artists from places I might never get to visit.
Where do you see poetry movement in India in the near future?
I see it growing and evolving.