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Slamming down shyness

June 14
12:00 2008

image Written By : JONATHAN BRYCE . Poetry is one of the most personal, artistic and powerful forms of literature. It is a rhythmic type of language that speaks from a person’s soul. In Fiji, poetry is just as popular as it is in the rest of the world, however, when it comes to performing it in public; it becomes a very difficult task since so many people in our country’s population suffer from shyness. This shyness forces them to refuse to showcase the artistic talents that many of these people possess. However, there are those who genuinely believe in the talents of our people and have sort ways to help breakdown these walls of shyness that restrict them.
One such organization is known as the Pacific Writing Forum or simply PWF. With help from the University of the South Pacific, the PWF set up a way to bring out the poet in many people during this last week.
They organized an event called a ‘Poetry Slam’ which took on Friday and was held at the AusAID building at USP. The event was scheduled to be held for two hours in which the number of constants would compete in two rounds.
For those who are unfamiliar with a poetry slam, it is a performance competition that is very different from a poetry reading. To participate in this competition, people had to sign up and showcase their talents as poets against one another.
In this competition, they were judged on their performance, especially on the emotion and the theatrics of it as well as their talent in writing, the content of their poems and on the pronunciation from their work. One particular organizer, Mr Parvin Mallavaram helped put the event together and spoke about it before the poetry slam.
“I’m from America and I’ve been in Fiji for the last three years and I see that there is a lot of talent and creativity with our people here. In the United States, we use to have a poetry slam once a week and so we organized this event here so people can display the talent we know they have. People have a lot of poetry here.”
The PWF had arranged the event so any person from any age group would be allegeable to compete in the contest. The Forum had previously arranged a poetry slam in April as well as one last year. Mr Mallavaram said he considered them both a success.
The April poetry slam saw many students of USP, mostly those who were in their late 20s participate in the event. Mr Mallavaram said “It was good, especially since many parents came with their children and a lot of high school students came to watch the event. We hope to build confidence with these high school kids and everybody because we know some have the talent but just have problems performing in front of a crowd.”
Mr Mallavaram said that he had seen a major difference in the performances of the poets and their poetry since last year’s poetry slam.
He noted how the content of their poems were extremely personal and were performed in a very artistic way.
He also noted that there were more and more who were will to share their talents in front of an audience.
However, when it came to content, Mr Mallavaram said he was a little concerned in case one of the contestants would perform their poetry on some sensitive subject matters such as the current political situation or on inappropriate subjects.
“It’s a concern, but we don’t want to censor anything. We’re not going to inspect their poems or say they can’t talk about this or that and what they have to say is simply their own views and does not reflect on the PWF. What happens is that, it’s the artist who gets up there puts themselves on the line on whatever they have to say.”
Parvin Mallavaram said that with the help of the PWF and Esquires coffee shop chain, they had been able to set up the number of prizes for the winners of the contest.
“The aim of this is to just create a large awareness of what slam poetry is and it’s to help create a style of poetry that gets more and more people to write, not just poems but anything. It really helps people to become more active in writing and performing their pieces.”
Mr Mallavaram said the PWF were looking for volunteers to help their events and had plans to hold another poetry slam competition in the near future. He also had this to say to everyone with poetic talent who suffered from a bad case of shyness;
“Watch our events and practice reading your poetry in front of your friends or family to build against your performance anxiety and it helps you become more confident to perform in front of an audience. It helps you get better and better each time you do it. Overcome your shyness and we would love to see more of you as future poets and writers.”

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