Poetry is pieces of thoughts strung together by experience. Raktim Gautam, a poet from Guwahati, does more than write poetry—he performs them in front of an audience. A spoken word poet, this young literary artist thrives by connecting with the audience, often moving them with his words. He runs Guwahati’s art collective called ‘East India Poets’ and aspires to be a great storyteller just like his grandfather. Join us as we get a glimpse into his life.
Welcome, Raktim. It’s exciting to be interviewing a different kind of poet today! Let’s start with a brief introduction.
Hello! I’m Raktim Gautam. I’m a 22-year-old, spoken word poet born and brought up in Guwahati, Assam. I’m currently based in Guwahati as well. I run an art collective called East India Poets, wherein I manage an art space called ‘The Komorebi Artroom’. Meanwhile, I am working on a few theatre productions as part of Theatre@Agora. I’m also working as a content creator at a creative digital agency called Right Hemisphere. But I always manage to find the time to pursue my stronger passions.
Please tell us a little bit more about your work!
Spoken word poetry is an art form that, unlike poetry on paper, is performed out loud in front of an audience. It often involves vocal techniques and physical gestures to truly project feelings to your audience. I also conduct writing/spoken word poetry workshops and perform in various events and festivals. Apart from my poetry, I indulge in writing scripts and theatre productions and also work as an art and cultural facilitator through my art collective.
What drew you in and inspired you to start on this path?
I started getting attached to spoken word poetry because it is an incredibly powerful medium to portray ideas and opinions in a way that can be immensely impactful. The performer is usually in close proximity with the audience so it helps him/her to connect with the audience really well. They will be able to see how much each piece means to you through your own voice. There is a certain amount of real-time vulnerability which strikes your viewers unlike when you read written poetry.
Do you feel that your roots guided or influenced you to be where you are today?
Growing up, I listened to my grandfather narrate a lot of popular Assamese stories. I held on to this and have always aspired to be as good a storyteller as him. Moreover, I used to read a lot of books and watch a lot of cinema since my school days. All of this also helped me increase my perspective and know more. Most of my work today is based on personal experiences, my childhood is a significant part of it.
Share with us your process.
I’ve always believed in keeping an eye out for details, be it for work or my creative interests. So my philosophy has been to be on the lookout for things that are trivial and carefully observe the environment I’m in.
Tell us about your collective!
East India Poets is an independent art collective and performance arts group. We are a community of writers, spoken word poets, illustrators and designers which facilitate/curate/organise art events and projects. The art collective was founded in November, 2017. Since its inception, we have organised a number of open mics, performance arts showcases, exhibitions, campaigns and collaborated with various artists, organisations and performed at various venues and festivals including Guwahati Grand Poetry Festival (GGPF) and Arunachal Literary and Art Festival (ALAF).
The Komorebi ArtRoom is an art space that aims to promote art and culture by facilitating various workshops and sessions. Since it was founded in October 2018, it has held a number of film screenings, musical sessions, art workshops and theatre performances.
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@shlaghaborah and I have started this little project where we write messages on sticky notes and put them up in random public places. Maybe, just maybe someone comes across them and it brings a smile onto their face. Today, @shlaghaborah put up notes around Hudson lane and CP. In a world where people often go out of their way to not talk to a stranger, this might help bring us closer. Moreover, this is part of bigger objective we have started working on. This initiative of ours is called #pinkfreud, one that will focus on mental health awareness. Cheers! . . . #pinkfreud#stickanote#mentalhealth#semicolon
I have also co-founded ‘Pink Freud’, a mental health organisation that works on mental health awareness and facilitates the process of reaching out to professional help. It was something I thought of working on because mental health has been a recurring theme through some of my poems.
One of the plays Raktim participated in. This one got an impressive review in the Assam Tribune:
Tell us about any exciting works we can look forward to!
I’m currently working on a script for a theatre production as a co-writer, it will be screened around December. So watch out!
To catch up with Raktim and read full versions of his poetry, make sure to follow him on Instagram!
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