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Poetry Across Borders

It’s a Monday night, and I’m sitting in a lecture theatre with people spilling from the stairs leading up to the seats. We are students across all years and disciplines, brought together by the one thing we have in common: poetry.

As we’re waiting for the program to begin, sitting under the fairy lights and the eerie glow of the projector screen, I can’t help but go back to the last slam I attended.

Back home, poetry readings were my weekly fix. Every slam was a little world away from the monotony of the intricacies of daily life. I’d walk into a poetry slam, never knowing what to expect, only that I wouldn’t walk out the same person again. Hearing the girl with the irreparable loss of her grandmother, the strange man and his drinking problem, the teenager with an all too dramatic take on the world, I would get caught up in the lives of these people before I knew it. I love the intimacy of slams and the connection shared with the poets. A friend of mine once remarked, ‘performing poetry always feels like walking up to the stage with your hurt and pain, leaving it out there for the audience to make what they will of it.’

The first time I ever came across this art, I was thirteen and somehow ended up on YouTube, binge watching this weird rap-speaking-poetry thing that I didn’t know what to make of. I was intrigued, to say the least. Another dozen videos in, I knew I wanted in on this world of poets and performances.

Little did I know, three years down the line, in a new city, I would rediscover poetry and myself, through it. Slams were my favourite part of the week, and what I often looked forward to when school work got demanding. I found myself tearing down the cocoon I built for myself as a shy teenager scribbling away in my notebook, broadening my view of the world, the more poetry I listened to.

At the squeak of the microphone being switched on, I am brought back to the event. The much anticipated night of the first poetry reading of the year begins strikingly. The all too familiar feelings of the collective hushes of awe, the held breaths at every powerful line and the connection in the room is unmistakable. Amidst the crowd, I feel at home once again. I find solace in slams and realise poetry is a land without borders, and that we, my friend, are mere passersby.

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