BANGKOK — On a recent Thursday evening a throng of people in everything from hipster duds to business suits descended on a Bangkok bar for spoken word poetry ranging from an acerbic-yet-catchy limerick aimed at an ex to a poignant open letter to someone’s late father recited in poetic meter.
With spoken word, storytelling and poetry growing in popularity in recent years, semi-regular events such as Bangkok Lyrical Lunacy at Overground Bar & Cafe and Bangkok Poetry see participants take the mic to pour their heart out to the crowd.
The man who hosts Lyrical Lunacy is Pablo S. He requested his last name not be used (some kind of government paranoia), but in this community he’s known by his alter ego, Leroy Jenkonius III. I sent him some questions about the burgeoning scene, and he wrote back with some answers.
CP: What is Bangkok Lyrical Lunacy and how did it come to be?
LJ: Bkk LyLu (Bangkok Lyrical Lunacy) is a community of artists who gather regularly to perform their art. We put on open mic shows a few times a month that have a heavy focus on spoken word poetry but there aren't any restrictions as to what one can perform at the show. In addition to spoken word poets, we have musicians and stand up comedians who regularly perform. Every so often we might have someone come and read a short story, usually we tell people that they have five minutes to fill with whatever they wish to perform.
The way we got started was quite simple. Basically a small group of spoken word poets got together about two years ago and decided we needed a place to regularly perform if we want to build a community and culture around this art.
CP: What is spoken word?
LJ: For the uninitiated, spoken word poetry is poetry that is written with the intention of being performed onstage before an audience. Delivery of a spoken word piece is just as important as the written content. The art form can incorporate elements of storytelling, comedy, drama to be used as a vehicle to share a certain point of view, deliver a poignant message, or just to entertain the audience.