Divya Dureja is a Delhi based spoken word artist and sometimes she raps too. She is a multitalented girl from the capital city. I was excited to interview her since I saw her live for the first time at Summer House Cafe. They way she performs is amazing. There is something unique about her. She performs with so ease that you will get an immediate connection with her performance.
I approached her and she was very kind enough to let me interview her. Here’s how my conversation with her went:
The KJi: TELL US WHO IS DIVYA DUREJA? WHEN DID YOU REALIZE THAT YOU ARE GOOD IN POETRY?
Divya Dureja: I am an artist, performer, curator and promoter of the avante-garde. My background in development and communications work in India and the USA, along with my education in the field of Psychology has enabled me to co-create an inclusive platform in the form of Performers’ Consortium wherein performance art that aims at sensitisation and fearless expression of personal and public experiences, is nurtured.
I have given my voice to campaigns #PadsAgainstSexism and #DaagAcheHain, addressing societal taboos around menstruation. I also voice my enthusiastic support for the rights of the LGBTQ+ community through fearless poetry.
My poetry film shedding light on a highly under-reported female sexual dysfunction – Vaginismus, has been appreciated across the globe and screened at various International Film Festivals across Europe – 2016 International Triennial of Mixed Media, Belgrade, 2017 International Women’s Film Festival Dortmund|Cologne and 2017 Diffusion Festival, UK, among others.
I’m a Spoken Word Poet, Beat Poet, Jazz Poet, Theatre Poet and an occasional rapper. From performing at New York Poetry Festival to MTV Big Indies India; to touring with poets from across the ocean like Sarah Kay, Deborah Emmanuel, Zuela Herrera and more, my collaborations span from doing couplets with beatboxers to acclaimed Jazz Musicians.
The KJi: DID YOU FACE ANY DIFFICULTIES IN THE BEGINNING?
Divya Dureja: I have been able to forge this path with the alignment of many factors and people in my life. As I started on this journey during my graduation years, I had the space to grow and nurture my style and gain a deeper understanding of societal issues without being encumbered by the pressures to also curate and manage an art company.
The KJi: HOW DID ELEMENTS HAPPEN TO YOU? HOW WAS YOUR EXPERIENCE?
Divya Dureja: I was initiated into the idea behind Elements by the team – Aakash, and Mohit. Overstanding and knowledge form a crucial element of the hip-hop culture, so spoken word poetry found itself at home here. I was ecstatic to perform at Elements, an embracing space where I could spin my words into rhymes amidst artists who know what it takes, to be honest to their bones and weave stories from their thoughts and life.
The KJi: WHAT SPECIAL TIPS DO YOU WANT TO GIVE TO THE UPCOMING ARTISTS WHO WANTS TO MAKE THEIR CAREER IN POETRY?
Divya Dureja: Find conditions that facilitate your story. After that, the medium that suits your sensibilities the most. where you can contribute to the best of your abilities. It could be the stage, the page or something else entirely. Poetry is a wonderful medium to express yourself in.
In addition, you have to spend time in refining your writing and performing skills before you begin to widely share your works. Live with your pieces and evolve with them.
The KJi: FROM WHAT AGE ARE YOU PERFORMING ON THE STAGE?
Divya Dureja: I have been performing at poetry elocution competitions since the first grade of my schooling in Delhi and Dehra Dun.
As a matter of fact, the recitals had been of texts written by renowned poets which my teachers picked out for me. I have been performing my own works at shows and campaigns for over three years now.
The KJi: HOW DO YOU SELECT A TOPIC FOR WRITING? WHAT MAKES YOU DECIDE A THEME?
Divya Dureja: Anything in my surrounding can end up serving as a stimulus for writing poetry. It could be a phrase I just heard or a tune I just listened to or something that jolted me out of my monotony that can act as an impetus to write a piece.
At times, it is the deeper reflections and issues I grapple with in my personal and public surroundings. All these things seep into my writings and become the centre of attention.
The KJi: WHAT DO YOU LIKE THE MOST ABOUT HIP-HOP?
Divya Dureja: Hip-hop is an art form driven by the people to give voice to their dissent and unjust circumstances. It has an intricate connect with the culture of the people that make it. This immersive quality that blurs the line between the creator and what’s created is what pulls me to it.
The KJi: ANY SPECIAL MESSAGE YOU WANT TO GIVE TO YOUR FANS.
Divya Dureja: Fans! Fans? I’m humbled that you’d think I have admirers. If there are people out there who appreciate my performances and the shows I curate, I’d request them to bring a friend or two along to support the independent arts around them!