As a multi-cultural city, Lucknow was always the culture capital of India ever since the era of the Kings and the Nawabs. Music, dance and poetry (sher-o-shayari) reached their peak under royal patronage. Even today, Lucknow occupies an important place as the center for music, poetry, plays, dance and design among many other things. It comes as no surprise that Lucknowites take immense pride in the city’s cultural legacy.
But as the society progressed, people began to move away from art and literature towards the modern entertainment avenues. The traditional literary art forms have faced a lot of neglect in the past but it is due to their unbeatable charm that they seem to have gotten a new lease of life. Albeit slowly, but Lucknow and its people have embraced the growing trend of open mic sessions, which have become a regular feature in the evolving café culture in the city.
These events are focused on performing arts like poetry, spoken word, music and stand-up comedy and bring together professionals and amateur talent with an audience that is willing to accept and listen. In Lucknow, there was never a dearth of gifted individuals but what it lacked was suitable platforms, which forced people to move out to the bigger cities, in search of a stage that would allow them to showcase their talent.
Open mics encourage people from different walks of life share their original work or even the work of their favourite authors and poets. Not everyone who writes is comfortable performing in public but being in the company of a like-minded, warm and unbiased audience often acts as a catalyst to encourage people to write more.
The beauty of open-mics lies in the fact that no session can be re-created. Every session is unique in its way and thus the audience can expect something different in every event. A lot of places that organise these open-mics usually follow a theme, which provides different perspectives to a topic. They create a social space where performers are able to polish their skills and individuals, especially youngsters are encouraged to express themselves through writing and poetry. To add to it, the laid back and serene atmosphere serves as the perfect setting to inspire creativity.
It is not just the cafes and performers that have benefitted from the growing open mic culture. Organisers as young as school students are seen arranging various sessions of open mics on a weekly basis. This not only inculcates creativity, responsibility and appreciation for art but also hones their skills and personality.
In Lucknow, there are many groups dedicated to reviving the poetry and literature culture in the city by organising regular open-mics. Some of them are:
Mukhaatib is a poetry group that welcomes those who share their passion for Urdu literature and poetry. They routinely organise poetic evenings / mushairas in the presence of famous Urdu poets of Lucknow, and organise workshops & open mics for the youth / new and budding poets of the city. Their workshops include the basics of Urdu language, classification of Urdu poetry and the basics of Urdu Ghazal. There is even a question-answer round to clarify any doubts or queries on the nuances and finer aspects or Urdu poetry.
The Writer’s Hub:
The Writer’s Hub believes that writing is a medium to emote our thoughts, emotions and imagination. Welcoming writers from all across, their motto is “You write, We Share.” They regularly hold open mic sessions and workshops to help young talent find the way in the mesmerizing world of literature.
The Poetry Club, Lucknow:
The Poetry Club (TPC) is a community that gives budding poets and writers a chance to connect with others who share their love for words. They provide a comfortable and warm setting for literature lovers to exchange poetry and showcase their work.
Literature and poetry are not just art forms. They showcase Lucknow’s cultural significance and are a part of the identity that the city holds today. One major reason for the decline of the literary art is the fading interest of the new generation. Thus, it becomes all the important to hold such events where youngsters are encouraged to explore accept their culture so that art is not only preserved but revived to its former glory.