Between TV, movies, music, video games, sports and the Internet -- not to mention the fine arts -- people are overwhelmed with content. To cut through the clutter, our entertainments are becoming louder, edgier and flashier. That leaves little room for the quiet charms of poetry, which can demand close readings to be fully appreciated.
Presently, there is hardly any space for honest and balanced critique of poetry. This is where The Versemongers, a bilingual poetry collective founded by six young poets who aim to improve their craft through regular workshops and performances and become active and engaging participants of the larger arts and culture movement of Bangladesh, steps in.
The founders, Tamoha Siddiqui, Rifat Islam Esha, Mahmood Sadaat Ruhul, Raisul Nayon, Sayeeda Tahera Ahmad, and Zarin Rafiuddin, have been friends for a while. They all started out as page poets. They are all published writers in their own right – be it in books, newspapers, magazines, international journals or online. Each of them have been exposed to the performance aspect of poetry through different workshops, competitions, and spoken word groups. The six friends are always exchanging ideas and critiquing each other's works. Their debut show, held at Jatra Biroti this April, saw widely encouraging reactions from the audience.
They compose poetry about anything from personal dilemmas to issues that need social attention. “We feel angry, frustrated, or fearful from time to time. However, because these feelings are unpleasant, we often keep them locked up inside of us. Writing and performing poetry help us get these feelings out and also better understand them,” says Mahmood.
In terms of the future, The Versemongers have quite high hopes. “We plan to hold another show after Eid and keep honing our craft, have more published works, and perform internationally one day,” says Tamoha.