Simar Singh Interview
Simar Singh is the curator and founder of UnErase Poetry, a movement to promote and produce spoken word poetry in India. Singh is a spoken word poet himself and has received critical acknowledgment for his poems, How To Be A Man, The Legal Rapist, and Dear Religious Extrovert. On International Women’s Day 2017, UnErase performed their very first show. A performance by one of the poets, Aranya Johar titled A brown girl's guide to gender went viral. As UnErase Poetry turns five this year, Simar Singh talks about his journey through these years.

 By Parul Rana

Congratulations on completing five years of UnErase. Could you take us through the journey of these five years? How did it start? Did you plan it all along and had seen it panning out this way?

The idea was something that came just out of the necessity to have more performance spaces. There aren’t many platforms when it comes to spoken word artists, so that’s where the idea came from. I was six months into poetry when I realized that I wanted to do much more as an artist and reach out to the audience, so UnErase is a by-product of that. Doing shows, recording videos, and putting them on social media helps in getting a wider audience and that’s what we did. Five years have helped in a lot of learning how content works. It has been a lot of experimentation, creating something new most of the time but at the same time, it’s been quite a journey. I started off very early, I was in school when I started UnErase, so from then to now, UnErase is almost like a younger sibling or as a kid of mine.

How do you think your work evolved in these years?

When I started, I had no idea what to do, how to do things. I didn’t have any experience in events or knowing how business works. So, for the first two years, it was a lot of learning, making a lot of mistakes, and discovering a lot of new things every day and I think that was the fun part because I didn’t really have a goal in mind, I didn’t really have a particular place from where I wanted to take it. So yes, I went with the flow and let it take me there to the other end. So that was the best part.

Also in these five years, the space has evolved a lot because before we started, we used to have a few open mics in Bombay at different places. So, in our case, we just had access to just those places and 50 odd audience members would usually come there. If you look at it right now, there are multiple spoken word events happening all over the country and hundreds and thousands of people buy tickets to watch their favorite artists live. So, in that sense, I would say it has evolved drastically and it’s still evolving.

From here on, are there any specific plans to take it forward?

The way it started it was so innocent, I guess. I have never tried to keep any concrete plans. We just do what we enjoy doing and try to do things that are different. So, the only plan we make each month is to push the line a bit more into something newer and newer. So, for us, you know now doing a different type of event in NCPA, where the audience is very different is one example of pushing boundaries. In the future we are also looking for opportunities where we will find different and more community members that may have heard of us in the past but never witnessed anything like this, which is to be able to sit in the theatre and watch poetry.

What has been planned for the event on Women's Day?
The idea is to create a lineup and create a space for a conversation to happen around gender and conversation that usually doesn’t happen so openly. So very carefully we have created a female lineup this year. We usually have one or two men on the lineup. This year somehow because of the dates, we have an all-female lineup. The idea is for women to be talking about the issues they face. The show is about how different women, living different lives and have very different struggles and meanings of what it means to be a woman in India, it’s filled with emotion, humour, a lot of thought, introspection, and sharing of personal and intimate stories. Some make us laugh, and some make us cry at times. The idea is to create a comfortable space for everyone to share and be a part of.

We have a host, the host calls upon the performer, who then shares the story or poetry and then we move on to the next performer. So, we have around 30 acts. All performances will be accompanied by music. This music will be by Abhin Joshi and Samuel Pandya.

*Parul Rana is a theatre enthusiast and movie buff.

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