The increasing number of poetry collectives in Beirut is taking spoken word performers out of the dark and damp alleyways of the city, onto liberal stages in its warm and dimly-light bars.
“We used to beg people to perform,” said Majd Shidiac, organizer and host of the Poetry Pot. “We’ve gone from 1 or 2 signups to 17 signups per night.”
In 2011, the only available poetry collectives for local performers to lyrically express themselves on were Haven for Artists and el-Yafta, according to Shidiac. For the past two years however, passionate writers like Shidiac have built themselves dozens of poetry corners around the city.
Organizers such as AltCity, Fade In: and Raw Voices have also helped the flourishing poetry scene by regularly hosting writing and performing workshops.
As the “baby project” of older initiatives, the Poetry Pot hosted its first event a little less than a year ago to a crowd of 30. Today, that number reaches up to 150, indicative of the growing interest in spoken word.
“They’re there to pick the brains of the performers,” said Shidiac. “Each time they come in, they find something new, they find a different story.”
Shidiac attributes the rising popularity of his events to good marketing, and the ability to connect with what is being spoken. The availability of stages like those provided by the Poetry Pot has not only attracted listeners, but also English and Arabic poets of all kind.