My name is Avnika Gupta. I’m born and brought up in New Delhi, India. I graduated in Sociology Honours from Lady Shri Ram College For Women in 2015.
I am an independent writer, spoken word poet and performance artist. I’m primarily concerned with bringing random sounds together to convey meaning so beautifully that it becomes part of my audience’s lived experience and stays with them for eternity. My poetry talks about the intricacies of human emotions, the importance of embracing mental health as an important aspect of well being, the ill effects of pornography on popular perception of intimacy etc. If I am a lost ship, Spoken Word Poetry is my north star!
My style of writing is typical of a narrative journalist, as I explore human emotions, sexual desire, complexity of relationships, power of intrinsic healing etc. through the rhythmic combination of prose and poetry to create awareness and meaning through storytelling. I have also facilitated performance art workshops for women inmates at The Tihar Central Jail, New Delhi. Additionally, I have worked with autistic boys and with women victims of homelessness in Orissa. These experiences have helped me shape my work as a social scientist, writer, spoken word poet, and healer.
My dream is to heal as many lives as possible on the planet through the power of expression!
My vision is to help everyone embrace their true selves, just as flawed and imperfect as they may be! I aim for a world of uninhibited expression, love and hugs!
Tell us about yourself, your background and what you do currently
I am a 22 year old writer and a spoken word poet based in New Delhi. I completed my schooling from Delhi Public School, Dwarka in 2015 and managed to secure admission in my dream college – Lady Shri Ram College For Women. Three years at LSR, from 2015-18, proved to be the golden time when I discovered my artistic orientation. I started acting in street plays, writing for popular magazines and performing spoken word poetry across colleges and cafes in Delhi.
I was a columnist for Berlin Art Parasites magazine (Germany) and The Thought & Expression Company (New York). I published stories on mental health, gender disparity, substance abuse, ill effects of porn addiction, intimate partner abuse etc. Additionally, I got published on micro-fiction platforms such as Terribly Tiny Tales, The Scribbled Stories etc.
Here are some of my published stories:
Tell us about any current projects or initiatives you wish to promote
I am currently working on illustrations for my spoken word poems. For this, I’m working closely with various visual artists to explore the intersection between language and the visual media. The idea is to illustrate each poem, paragraph by para
graph, to create the same impact in print as is created while I am performing them face to face with my audience. I am also looking for publishing houses who would be open to illustrated contemporary free verse.
One of my earliest experimental spoken word poem on mental health can be read here: http://www.projectvoiceplus.com/living-with-anxiety.html
What has been your biggest challenge in achieving your success?
As an independent artist, the biggest challenge is to constantly network and market your content. Another pressure is to keep yourself internally motivated despite external obstacles. Spoken word poetry is still new and emerging in India, and often event organisers are not willing to pay even the best of performers and treat it as a “voluntary engagement.” It is important for India as a country to realise that professional spoken word artists spend days perfecting one line, practising punctuation and getting the pauses right. It is hard work and deserves to be respected!
Hopefully, with the Bollywood film ‘Gully Boy’, which actually talks about spoken word traditions from India’s streets, people will realise that slam poetry is as old as the Taj Mahal, if not more. It is important for people to support independent artists, pay them well and brand their content for the mainstream audiences.
What has been your greatest achievement personally?
One of my greatest and most defining achievements was getting to perform at India’s First Ever National Youth Poetry Slam in 2016, which was like the Filmfare of Slam Poetry. If was thrilling to see so much talent from different parts of the country, and performing in front of Kalki Koechlin and Sarah Kay is an experience to die for. This show helped me get discovered as one of India’s premium spoken word artists; I was consequently invited to colleges and cafes all around Delhi, Bangalore, Mumbai etc.
Some of my most memorable performances in New Delhi include – Piano Man Jazz Club, Lodhi The Garden Restaurant, Zorba The Buddha, Amity University, Lady Shri Ram College For Women, Story Mirror Youth Creative Conclave etc.
If you weren’t doing what you do now, what would you be doing?
I can’t imagine doing anything else!
Who has been your biggest inspiration?
My biggest inspiration is Marina Abramovic. She is a Serbian performance artist whose work explores endurance art, body art, feminist art, and delves into the possibilities of the body, mind and spirit. Her experiments with her own physical and emotional being are truly revolutionary and reflective of the modern day society. She has been exploring the complex relationship between the artist and audience, through performances that challenge her own self as well as the participants emotionally, intellectually and physically. Her extended performance called “The Artist Is Present” at The Museum of Modern Art, New York, truly highlighted the immense need of humans to have social contact, the power of emotional healing unleashed by engaging in non-judgemental mutual gaze, and various other suppressed facets of a person’s being.
Her artistic vision and commitment are truly inspiring!
What does the future hold for you?
In the coming future, I am actually doing everything I shouldn’t be doing as per the conventional norms of our society. I am planning to pursue a masters in liberal arts, curate my spoken word poetry for YouTube and futuristic new-age platforms, publish an illustrated book of poetry, as well as work actively in the social sector – facilitating causes of gender, mental health, and systemic oppression. I am also doing conceptual photoshoots for my instagram (@aavnika) – exploring different human emotions and the psychological states associated with them.
Instagram Handle: aavnika
Facebook Page: https://m.facebook.com/Avnika-Gupta-229166690806520/
Email : [email protected]