Updated: Jun 11
In this post, Supriya Kumari's poem reflects on how children's identities often get reduced to grades, and Anjali Sohil's poem challenges the gendered beliefs and ideologies she grew up with. Both poets focus on the need of letting children express their joys and interests without any bounds. This piece is part of a two-series feature, where we collaborated with Slam Out Loud to platform the voices of student performers and their creative expression through the medium of poetry.
Slam Out Loud is a for-mission, non-profit that uses the transformative power of performance and visual arts like poetry, storytelling, visual arts and theatre; to help build Creative Confidence (life) skills like communication, critical thinking and empathy in children from disadvantaged communities.
Their programs include the Jijivisha Fellowship, which places professional artists directly into classrooms, and helps inculcate essential life skills to children from low-income backgrounds through arts-based learning, as well as the much recent Arts for All, which leverages the power of art and low-tech platforms to foster socio-emotional learning and well-being of children during pandemic-induced school closures. To know more about SOL's programs, interventions and to access their freely available learning resources, please visit their website!
Note: Spoken Word Poetry is at its most impactful in performance, and the text below is only meant to accompany the videos of the children performing their work.
- By Supriya Kumari
"I believe, I believe I can search for my own boundless passion/I believe I can strive to be an independent learner/I believe I can make my life processes, my education that includes my joy and self-esteem, my motives and decisions and my own inventions, my own creations,"
10/10 - excellent!
7/10 - good, can do much better!
1/10 - very poor!
I grew up with these numers
and these labels
After all, all my activities and which of my demands will be heard was decided on the basis of these numbers
These numbers tell me
where I stand,
how much I try,
how much I learn
and how much I know
But I wonder...
Is that so?
Are these numbers that feel like the advertisements
Interrupting my favourite movie
Really that significant?
My heart says NO!
But the world says YES!
Counting was easy to learn
Because of the everyday roll calls
Of Roll number 1? Present!
Roll number 2? Present!
Roll number 51? Present!
And the long list of class tests
Which are like the traffic snarls
From which I try to get through
And when we get back the test papers,
the classroom starts to feel like a prison
And the roll calls sound like,
Prisoner no 1- present!
Prisoner no 2 - present!
Prisoner no 51- present!
My little heart,
Is never interested in these exams
and these awful scores
It's passion is something
Beyond these ranks
and the high, red brick walls
of the building called school.
The walls are so high
That only the bricks can see the world outside
and it's sad,
It's sad that my passion
Day by day
Is being buried inside the walls
With benches, books, blackboard, and more
Trying to compare wind, with fire
In the races, people run to win
not to enjoy and learn
In the anxiety of being the first
and proving myself to everyone
I am losing my joy
Like an eraser losing its size
I ask, why do I not have the choice to learn what I want to and why do I have these restrictions, rules and regulations and no place for my own dreams , my own decisions
It makes me feel a river that has stopped flowing
Like a dead leaf falling from a tree without any sense of its destination
Capturing things, moments in my camera, in my eyes and writing stories , writing poetry,
Communicating to strangers , finding directions and riding my cycle are not the things that I learnt in that building called school
But they define my idea of school.
I ask ,
I ask then why is there a system of education and why is it imposed on everyone?
I believe, I believe I can search for my own boundless passion
I believe I can strive to be an independent learner
I believe I can make my life processes, my education that includes my joy and self-esteem, my motives and decisions and my own inventions, my own creations
And I believe,
I believe that I can be a voice for everyone
Because I know,
I know that my life means much more
Than just a student of that building
Since I was a child / What about boys who love pink?
- By Anjali Sohil
"I think this is something most people go through, we create a toxic environment for us,/for ourselves, for emotions,/emotions are meant for expressing not for bottling up."
Since I was a child,
I was taught a few things.
Their impression remained life long,
Like a fragmented vase not loosing the essence of rose.
I've been taught,
Pink is for girls,
And blue for boys
but now I wonder what about boys who love pink?
I'm growing up neglecting my emotions,
like a neglect dust from the wall,
which has no value after getting cleaned but remains on that cloth.
As I scroll through my childhood memory,
I remember the time when I didn't score well,
peers around me made me feel that I am not a good person anymore.
Now I wonder if stars are brightening the earth, then why are they given same importance as the sun?
These things have become the elephant in the room, no one picks them up but keeps on repeating.
It's like a dump where garbage is being filled,
and nothing is happening to it,
the same way these things keeps on piling up in our brains.
Feeling the buckets of emotion leads me to discuss,
I think this is something most people go through, we create a toxic environment for us,
emotions are meant for expressing not for bottling up.
Supriya Kumari is a student poet who has been a part of Slam Out Loud’s programs for the past 4 years. She believes that she can bring a positive change in the world through her words and the faith she has in her voice. Supriya has performed at festivals like the Spoken Fest, represented Slam Out Loud at HundrEd’s Global Innovation Summit in Finland and took part in the summit's student leadership panels. She is also a TedX Speaker!
Anjali Sohil is a student poet and artist who has been a part of Slam Out Loud’s programs for the past 4 years; a space that allowed her to explore varied art forms. A 12th grader, she studies in the Government School of Excellence and uses poetry to talk about issues that are deeply personal to her. She has been featured as a poet by National Youth Poetry Slam, Spoken Fest as well as TedX. She has also been a Student Revolutionary at KER along with being a facilitator.