Welcome to the 100 Thousand Poets for Change-Bangalore website! In the span of a day, across continents, imagine poetry, music and art, being performed across the world, united by a common desire to make a difference. It’s a simple idea that has spread like wildfire-more than 100 countries will have readings, gatherings, open mic nights, flash musical mobs, dance performances, and more, all in the name of social change and awareness.
I have always been a believer in the power of words to create/promote social change. Mahatma Gandhi, through words and action, was able to arouse a whole nation to fight for their freedom. Martin Luther King, through his famous speech, I have a Dream, was able to inspire African Americans to fight for their civil rights. And singers like John Lennon, Joan Baez and Bob Dylan, through their songs, have been able to help us ‘Imagine all the people, living life in peace.’
If there is a time we need more activism through poetry, it is now. With horrific assaults against women being reported daily, along with water shortages and a major garbage disposal crisis, our beautiful land is becoming uninhabitable. We need to fight for its preservation. Poetry is a powerful medium to examine society, voice our opinions and create awareness. When we held the 100 Thousand Poets for change-Bangalore event last year, at Atta Galatta, it was heartening to see more than 100 people attend. It was a beautiful instance of solidarity for change.
The words of poets June Jordan, Audre Lorde, Adrienne Rich , Gloria Anzaldua and Carolyn Forche`, move and inspire with their commitment to embrace social change though their writing. I remember cracking open Adrienne Rich’s What is Found There: Notebooks on Poetry and Politics and being flabbergasted that one could be so honest in exploring activism through art. Indian poets like Namdeo Dhasal and Meena Kandasamy have blasted through stereotypes with their powerful poetry, exploring issues of caste, class and religion. There are so many writers and artists, who through their words, have touched our lives, and will continue to do so.
What can you and I do? We can believe that nothing is too small or insignificant. Every word, every notion, every emotion counts. Drops do form an ocean. A simple poem can touch us and move us to action. Maybe a poem about a school under a tree, will make us want to volunteer once a week at a government school or help fund a new school. Maybe hearing a poem on domestic violence will give you the courage to approach your friend who’s been hiding her bruises We have the opportunity to put belief into action. And while I am not sure how things will evolve, I will be there to see the power of words bring us all together. Hope to see you there too!