Chandrakant Redican popularly known as a member of the Pune Poetry Slam didn’t really give writing or poetry much thought. Giving up his dream of becoming a scientist, he got involved in socio-educational works and volunteered in top political campaigns.Here he got involved in issues which truly mattered to him— sexuality, politics, social change, religion, culture, women’s rights and science. After joining the Pune Poetry Slam there has been no looking back. Performance poet, Redican in conversation with NT BUZZ
Danuska Da Gama I NT BUZZ
- How did Poetry Slam provide the platform for you to speak your heart and mind?
Performance poetry was a platform where people would listen to what I had to say. Though I am still learning the nuances of my craft, I realised I had enough skill in performing and writing for people to take my word seriously. The audiences challenged me; this made me work on my poems and for the first time in my life – I loved the hard work. I loved the grind that I had to go through to get a good poem. This is where I could tell my stories and people would listen. I had more people believe in my words and what they stood for.
I still lecture and teach, because I love communicating and teaching. I miss the biology and the life of a lab rat. The rest of my life is poetry, or rather, about poetry.
- How important is creativity in today’s world?
Creativity is not something that people collectively endorse. Even though every major step in the progress and development of humanity was because someone was creative enough to come up with a great Idea. And not just writing, there can be creativity in every field. So the more people become creative, the more the world will change for the better.
- Digital and online platform is the way to reach the masses. Comment.
Spoken word poetry is popular in the country because of online videos. We have a fan base and supporters because of YouTube. People come to our slams because of social media. In fact, if social media were not there our work would never have taken off. For years, my friends knew I could write, but there was no scene to take my writing to, or I did not know about them. The moment I typed poetry into my Google search bar, my life changed.
Mainstream media noticed us because social media got us the popularity. Thus, while there are many others way and platforms, it would be foolish to ignore the platform that is the largest and also growing rapidly.
- Does the issue of censorship trouble you?
While I accept that there needs to be certain guidelines while presenting work to the public, these should be minimal. Censorship laws were designed in my belief to repress public opinion and in my opinion they are outdated. The way these laws have been used to repress freedom of expression lately has been very disturbing. Art always pushes boundaries and when something like censorship is enforced, it’s like putting a muzzle on people’s right to express.
- Tell us about your Bullock Cart Cafe Spoken Word Project?
The Bullock Cart Café Spoken Word Project is a natural evolution from the work done by Pune Poetry Slam and various organisations around the country. Co-founded along with my sister- Priyam Redican the focus is to create original content. If Spoken Word poetry is to survive in the country as an art form and not disappear as a passing trend, the content has to be of the highest quality.
Having done and performed in some of the biggest live venues we are now in the process of organising a Spoken Word Festival in Pune and are also in talks and planning to build community in several locations including Goa. Here we have tied up with local communities and artists to draw up a comprehensive plan to build spoken word poetry for locals and arts community.
- What is your ultimate dream that you strive to achieve?
My ultimate dream is to make a living out of poems I have written and performed. I want to pack out halls where people come to listen to me. It is a lofty dream but one I believe I would like to work towards. Secondly, I would want my poetry to create real impact and change in this world, if by being on stage I can have an effect on someone to do something better, that is one of the greatest things I could desire.
- What’s your inspiration for poetry slam?
My inspiration for poetry slam comes from my father, an Irish Canadian who came to India over 30 years ago and never went back. My mother is Maharashtrian. They brought me up in a rural village and gave me an excellent education. My sister and I were forced to communicate in the simplest of manners but never compromised on the quality of our language which helped us as performance poets.
I am also influenced greatly by the poet saints of Maharashtra’s Bhakti Movement, whose poems were radical and hard hitting. The religious ballads that are popular today are only a part of the poetry that they wrote. Saint poets like Tukaram, Jnanadev, Bahinabai and Janabai ripped society apart with their poetry and got into trouble for questioning society, religion and even God sometimes.
My third influence is folklore passed down over the generations by word of mouth. These poems are fast disappearing. I am also influenced by Celtic Songs and Irish folk songs. I love the way they use rhythm and the way they mould their language. A lot of my poems are about Indian Gods and traditions with Irish folk rhythms.
- Do you not worry about steady income? How much do you have to compromise on through this art form?
My parents never worried about money even when we sometimes had no money to buy sugar for tea. So that is never an issue. It took me a long while to actually make out the difference between not being attached to money while focusing on sustainability. One needs resources to do art, to travel, to eat and get people together. If I was not so focused on poetry, I would have been a lot wealthier than what I am now.
For me it is not a compromise to do spoken word poetry, everything else I do is a compromise.
(Chandrakant Redican will conduct a workshop on spoken word poetry for adults at Museum of Goa (MOG) on May 27 and May 28 from 4 to 6 p.m. It is ` 600 for two sessions and ` 350 for one session. For details call 7722089666. He will also perform with the Pune Poetry Slam Collective at 6 Assagao, Assagao on May 31 at 8 p.m. It is organised by People Tree and it is open to all.)