Ishmeet Nagpal: Male poets are more in demand because they've been given more platforms to shine on
Ishmeet Nagpal started her Facebook group this year because of the number of manels she started noticing two years ago
Started a Facebook group for Non-Male Poets of Mumbai
Ishmeet Nagpal doesn't remember a time when she wasn't writing. "I have been doing poetry since I was six or seven years old, and my first poetry performance was when I was 10." The trained dentist, who works as a social activist with Save The Children India, is also a performative poet. Look up her videos on YouTube in which she's performed her works: Before You Commit Suicide, Dear Non-Depressed Friend, Revenge Porn.
"I think I could never get over causing so many reactions among people, just with my words. There was a rush from people's perspectives changing right in front of your eyes. You can see them working their brains in that direction."
She started her Facebook group this year because of the number of manels she started noticing two years ago. "I was in Punjab and sifting through the newspapers, and there was an ad for a Women's Day event with five men and one woman. I lost it. I spoke to the organisers, and they said, 'You are right.
We should change the line-up.' In the end, they had three men and three women. It started from there. Whenever I would see a poster or line-up that had no women or one token woman, I would call up the organisers." After a litfest recently hosted five male poets and claimed to know no non-male poets, Nagpal posted on Facebook, with: "Can you tag all the non-male poets you know?" Within 15 minutes, she had 150 names on that status. The litfest, however, didn't change the line-up. "The way they have created the market is that men are more in demand because they've been given more platforms to shine on, more places to show off their talent, so they have a fan following now. Many others never get the chance. They have wonderful, amazing content and they never get a platform.
If I'm putting up a show with a female or trans or non-binary artiste you've never heard of, maybe 10 people will show up. So, I started a Facebook group called Non-Male Poets of Mumbai. Now when there are events, the idea is that we pitch a non-male member from the group. It has worked to a certain extent. There are organisers, who come to us and say, 'We have 10 slots, and five are for non-male. We would like to invite entries from your group.'"
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A walk through Mohammed Ali Road's Khau Galli