It is often assumed that those who are not heard are voiceless. In order to be heard, one must have a voice, an audience, and something that is not often provided: a platform. In the Arab world, particularly in occupied Palestine, most of the youth are not voiceless. However, their voices are not heard due to political and social shackles. In 2016, a safe space was created to allow for the self-expression of the Palestinian youth; a medium called Sard Spoken Word was born.
Barakabits snatched a chance to interview the organizers of Sard Spoken Word! Here is what they had to say:
- What is Sard Spoken Word?
“Sard is basically a podium that allows the Palestinian youth to express their work or their thoughts in an environment that is very accepting and non-judgmental. Sard is a place where they can be free to vent without having the type of anxiety that results from the fear of being judged by others. The performers usually present their raps, songs, poetry, or stand-up comedy, in either Arabic or English.”
- When did Sard actually start and whose idea was it to bring Sard to life?
“In 2015, a young British woman named Sameya Khan came to study at Birzeit University for a year. She brought along the open-mic culture to Palestine by teaming up with us. Together, they formed an open-mic event called Empoword . After a year, Sameya returned to Britain and teamed up with us and decided to further grow on this open-mic project.”
- Why did you choose the name Sard for this Spoken Word Project?
“We wanted to grow on the Empoword project in a way that was our own. We choose the name Sard (which means “to narrate”) because we live in an Arab society, and so our project’s name must be in Arabic. “
- Which art form (poetry, drawing, singing, etc.) is the most popular performance at the monthly events?
“While it was mostly centered on spoken word poetry we’re beginning to see the variety from art, singing, rapping, music, and theatre. The sky is the limit with open mics.”
- What are the main topics that are usually presented by the performers?
“Each performer has a different story to tell, so it varies from one performer to the next. The topics touch upon the problems they are facing which includes personal problems, imposed societal standards, and how it feels to live under occupation. Like we said, we welcome the freedom to express with open arms.”
6. One of the main goals of this project was to provide a non-judgmental zone to self-express in a hypercritical community. Why is this one of your goals?
“There is a root reason as to why the youth of this society do not express themselves. One of which is safety. What you say may trigger consequences. We are taught as young people to not say anything that could raise a flag, where it is socially or politically unacceptable. We are creating a safe space for youth to express themselves in. Our arms are wide open with love, tolerance and respect for difference.”
“The idea behind inviting these guests of honor was to give the audience chance to listen to the writers they admire to read and present to them. These special guests also get a chance to interact with the audience in an open-discussion after the reading.”
In a community that not always welcomes such artistic exposure, Sard Spoken Word definitely “cracks open locks”, as the celebrated spoken word poet Sarah Kay once said.
Show some love and check out Sard Spoken Word on Facebook!
Don’t forget to smile