Pieces of Poetry

March 21, 2013 , by Shreya Thapa, Leave your thoughts
Pieces of Poetry » My Dreams Mag
Photo: Bibek Bhandari
Within the past few years a handful but hopeful number of young slam poets have emerged in Kathmandu. They are using the power of poetry to make themselves seen and heard – through their performances and their striking words. 

No one can deny the power of words, and when they’re performing on stage to an enraptured audience, one uses all five senses to experience poetry. With a poetry culture that is rising in Kathmandu, the Dreams Team thought it would be appropriate to commemorate World Poetry Day by getting some of Nepal’s best and also upcoming poets to share their thoughts on the art form.

Finalists of the first Word Warrior poetry competition, which was held in 2010, Ujjwala Maharjan, 23, and Yukta Bajracharya, 20, are at the forefront of taking spoken poetry to new heights. And Shiva Bhusal, 20, and Shreya Dhital, 17, are two of the five winners from this year’s slam contest.

When did poetry catch your interest?


Ujjwala Maharjan: Since I was a kid. I remember having my own poetry notebook when I was in grade 2 or 3. But in December 2010 you could say my interest was reignited.

Yukta Bajracharya: I grew up learning ‘chanda ka kabita’ and rhymes in school. My earliest memory of reciting poems in front of an audience is when I was eight-years-old. I remember participating in a poetry-recitation competition and reciting ‘The Spider and the Fly’.

As for writing poetry, I actually started writing silly love poems at the age of 14. One poem led to another and in time I grew out of those silly teen love poems, but I never stopped writing.

Basically, Quixote’s Cove and the US Embassy introduced slam poetry to me through a workshop when they brought three visiting poets to Nepal.

Shiva Bhusal: After completing my schooling about two years ago, I came to Kathmandu for my higher studies and joined engineering at IOE Pulchowk. During my childhood, I neither read nor wrote poetry, except for those in textbooks.

One day, I read a poem by Laxmi Prasad Devkota. It was called ‘Paagal (The Lunatic)’ and I began to realise the power of words.

Initially, I was very bad at studies — I spent most of my time reading and writing poems. I was lucky that I had a bunch of literary people around me who always appreciated my work, and in this way I was introduced to this beautiful genre.

Shreya Dhital: Since I got into rap around six years ago.


What’s the best and worst part of performing your poems?

Ujjwala: The best — off stage I think I am usually very quiet. Most of the time I feel I don’t have my own opinions, and then I write poems and when I perform them it’s like I realize that I do have a voice.

And another thing, when you perform in front of a crowd, the instant feedback not only feels awesome, but it helps you improve the performance of that poem.

American poet Sarah Kay puts it well, “Live audience is the best editing tool” for a spoken word poem.

I can’t think of any of the worst parts. I guess you could say, maybe being bare and vulnerable in front of people, but then that’s the beauty of it too. Ok, I can’t think of any.

Yukta: The fear is both the best and the worst part. Sometimes, I get so nervous that I feel like literally running away from the venue when my turn is nearing. But then again, the adrenaline rush and the high of going up on stage and nailing the performance, that’s something else.

Also, after the performance when people come up to you and tell you that they felt connected or that they could relate to something I was performing about, there’s this feeling of sharing something common with someone you never met before, and that’s amazing.

Shiva: Although I have many weaknesses, the best part of poetry performance for me is that I love doing it. Whether good or bad, whether short or long, I enjoy performing, I enjoy every word of it.

The worst part is that sometimes when I try to finish quickly, the performance seems rubbish. Sometimes I overflow with words and the listeners can’t catch what I actually meant to say. Later when I review my performance I realise what I’ve done. I’m still a learner, I am trying to improve all these things and even then these silly incidents have become a memorable part of poetry performance as well.

Shreya: Best part is sharing stories, the release I feel when I let out what’s been playing in my mind. Worst is when it’s over!


What’s something about poetry that surprises you?

Ujjwala: How language in poetry can express things you never thought words could, and in such few words or lines. How it can talk about the same things over and over and over again but be new every time. How it shows you simple things that are always right there but go amiss, and how it does all that so beautifully

Yukta: This is what my sister says about poetry: “Poetry is just like love. You’ll find it in the most unexpected places.”

I think this is very true and also very surprising.


Shiva: I get surprised about the origin of my poems; where the refined words really come from. I guess there must be someone else inside you that lets you write something and you are only the medium.

Poetry has such power – when you finish writing a good poem you are not the same person. You feel like you’ve been transformed into a new person; there is a glow in your face for some days and this always surprises me.

 Shreya: The range of flavours that people bring to it.
Are there any misconceptions about poetry among your friends/generation you’d want to correct?

Ujjwala: Poetry is not something sophisticated, something for only a certain group of people. All of us consume poetry everyday in different forms; good fiction has poetry, good speeches have poetry, so many everyday phrases we use are all metaphors and poetry.

Yes, some poems are tricky and require more than one reading but even those poems have a different charm, it’s like opening a puzzle box to get a gift of some kind.

Yukta: I think people generally tend to think of poetry as being elusive, or something they can’t understand. They take it as something that’s out of their comprehension level, hence, I think most people are scared, in a way, to explore poetry.

Yes, there are poems that can seem very difficult and complex, but spoken word poetry generally is very audience-friendly.

There’s also that stereotype attached to poets and poetry readers.  Poetry might not be for everyone, but one shouldn’t be afraid to give it a chance just because they’re worried that they’ll be labelled as being loners, lunatics, or overtly romantic people.

Shiva: Some of my friends say that they don’t understand the poems so they don’t love to read them.

It’s true that it can be hard to completely understand a poem — reading poetry is not like reading a textbook or reading fiction, which have straightforward meanings. Poems have many dimensions; most of the times they are beyond the reader’s interpretation and sometimes even beyond the writer’s imagination.

We mustn’t just try to understand the meaning of the poems but rather try to feel it…feel the power and the flow of words.

Shreya: It’s not all soppy stuff about love, guys.


Why poetry and not something else – what’s the difference according to you?

Ujjwala: If you’re asking why I chose to write poems and not fiction or non-fiction, for me, it’s easier.

Fiction and plot takes too much concentration, I’m not saying poems are easy to write but I can come full circle while telling a story through poems with more ease than through other genres.

Yukta: Poetry is so beautiful. In fact, it is another synonym for beauty, literally.

For me the pleasure of reading poetry and the impact that certain poems have, have always lured me into reading and writing poems.

Plus, one doesn’t have to, and can’t really learn how to write poetry. Yes, you can learn about meter and using imagery and metaphors, but how you put that together to create poetry that inspires, has to be effortless. I like that about poetry.

Shiva: That’s a serious question. It’s one of the questions I frequently ask myself but have failed to find an answer.

Poetry is an addiction. Poetry is your inner voice, it’s the expression of your sorrows and happiness, and it’s the expression of what you are. It’s the reflection of what you think and what you believe and it’s more or less you that is expressed in your creation. 

So since it’s the expression of oneself, I believe this genre to be more powerful and different from others.

Shreya: Poetry, slam poetry in particular, is so empowering in its element of performance. It’s almost like speaking lyrics.

You don’t have to be able to rap or sing or dance, it’s not constrained in terms of form; you’re just giving people a piece of your mind.

  • Shiva Bhusal
  • shreyaDhitall
  • ujjwalaMaharjan
  • yuktaBajracharya
  • urdu poetry

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