Poetry Tuesdays:  Feature Performance by Ramya Pandyan & Karthik Rao

Last Tuesday marked a lot of special milestones for me. Anish Vyavahare (he of Thane boi fame) invited me to be a feature, the first ever, for his monthly Poetry Tuesdays event. Anish and I know each other off the poetry circuit and have been grinning (and prawn curry sharing) acquaintances for nearly 6 years. We’ve collaborated on fiction in the past and talked about doing more. And he’s a key partner in bringing Alphabet Sambar to Thane.


Then there’s Thane itself. And all the credit for bringing me to this lake city lies with Swamini who came to attend my Erotica Writing workshop last year and stayed on in my life as a friend. I’m loath to say anymore, partly because of all the disastrous goodbyes that have been happening lately — I don’t want to jinx this. But yes, how wonderful Thane is now that I know its Swamini!


And finally, Karthik and I collaborated, really did this time round. In the past, we’ve met minutes before an event, jammed for a bit and just taken that to the stage. And it’s been great, great, great. This time, we practiced, we improvised, we co-created and we selected a setlist from our growing repertoire.


A bit about Karthik. We have a decade between us. He’s laidback and reticent as I’m brash and outgoing. We haven’t really known each other that long but we’ve collaborated and produced some great work more than once. These include ‘regular’ performances, a special themed performance, a poetry-art-music collaboration and now a feature performance. I like how we manage to produce something that feels good to us both, without a lot of prior choreography. I know a lot of this is possible because of the art form called Spoken Word/Performance Poetry which provides ample room for experimentation. But I also know a collaboration works when both (or more) people trust, respect each other and just have a unique chemistry. I’m very lucky (well, we both are).

When there’s a chance to perform more than one piece, I like to take the audience on a journey of ups and downs. We revised the setlist several times before deciding to open with the colourful, kickass ‘Feminist Poetry’. I always ENJOY doing this because it kicks my mood into high gear and brings out the golden, shimmering, roaring lioness in me. And if you listen carefully, you can hear Karthik’s guitar rolling out a merry, mischievous tune.

We followed this up with ‘Patchwork Relationship’, which I think has only gotten better with telling. I was cold to this piece when I first wrote it because it was craft-first rather than inspiration-first. I constructed it out of bits of twitter poetry I had posted over several nights. But I think the pieces have come together and knitted well. And with each performance, the truth of the piece seems to ‘sit’ a little better within me. I love the sombre, haunting melody that Karthik has composed for this one.

From here to my signature piece ‘Paper Plane’ which didn’t get the same dramatic response it has usually gotten. But I’ll chalk that up to line-up placement. And perhaps it wasn’t the best of my tellings.

And finally, we ended it with a new piece called ‘Lullaby’. I’m so happy with how this turned out, chiefly because of the music. I catch myself humming the tune even in the middle of the day. The writing still needs polish and I am working on it. So expect to hear much better renditions of this in the days to come!

Thank you Thane for being such a warm host. And thank you, Karthik Rao for this wonderful journey.

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