Oxford Writers' House reports from Gin & Phonics' 'Rhyme and Reason' night at The Varsity Club!
Two weeks ago, I had a surprising evening. I went to watch Sophia Thakur - a storyteller and poet who has been featured on MTV, MusicIsRemedy, and TEDx - at Gin and Phonics' recent Spoken Word edition, hosted by The Varsity Club. The effect her set had on me was awesome - in the original sense.
Even though there is obviously a space for it, the emotional nakedness of poetry is something our generation seems to feel self-conscious about.
What was so striking was the sensitivity and skill Sophia had when it came to her own genre, activity, of ‘spoken word’. Even though there is obviously a space for it, the emotional nakedness of poetry is something our generation seems to feel self-conscious about. As a result, we cordon off all such exposure to ‘deep’ words with other descriptors, like ‘edgy’ (ironically). Sophia takes this in her stride, using her language and sound - one piece, for example, was layered over a beatbox backdrop - to relax and normalise the poetic process. Another spooling, utterly poised piece, 'Love Letter', struck a balance between what sounded like normal conversation, startling rhythm and unobtrusive, strange imagery. Her comfortably ‘real’ approach to performance and her subtle linguistic resets on age-old themes (e.g. Love) meant that, in the cosy bar, ‘poetry’ was stripped back down to saying something to someone, with a confidence that saying is the way to go.
While we are all extraordinary, ‘we don’t know this anymore, so we don’t show this anymore, so, because of that, we aren’t really learning how to grow this anymore’.
In her TEDx Talk at Surrey University on the topic of ‘Re-defining Ordinary’, delivered as a poem, Sophia said that while we are all extraordinary, ‘we don’t know this anymore, so we don’t show this anymore, so, because of that, we aren’t really learning how to grow this anymore’. Her set at Gin and Phonics smoothly worked back through the same worry: you got the sense that you were shown what you must have known, actually.
After Sophia’s poems, people were fairly springing at the stage. This open mic session was what was made the evening a more-than pleasant surprise, for me at least. The whip-round originality, humour and eloquence that emerged makes one think twice about resorting to scrolling through the Facebook newsfeed in moments of boredom. If only we typed instead…