“I am Neha, I steal spoons
I steal spoons from the kitchen and store them in my room”
“I am Harish, I lose spoons.
I lose ‘em from my kitchen,I lose ‘em from my rooms.”
I t was these spoons that led to the birth of Black River Poets
, a site exclusively for poetry lovers. Harish Shankaran, one of its co-founders, came across the first few lines of the poem, on his cousin’s friend’s blog in 2008.
On an impulse he decided to respond to it. “Before we knew it, we were exchanging verses on a daily basis. So, I compiled whole thing and put it up on my own blog www.oxygenflow.net.” This poetry exchange fetched him quite a following. And that set Harish thinking. The result was a platform for poets.
So the Black River Poets (www.blackriverpoets.com) came about in December 2010. Along with Mumbai-based Harish is his Delhi-based co-founder Sri Prasanna. “I was tinkering about with the concept of ‘poetry duels’, and was on the lookout for a developer, who could turn this fuzzy idea into something tangible.
The website, unlike any other platforms available for poetry-sharing, banks on the concept of ‘poetry duels’. Harish and Prasanna claim that the Black River Poets are all about collaborative poetry. As the site clearly points out, a user can start a duel, join a duel or silently lurk around watching others duel. A duel can be started by simply composing the first few lines of a poem and setting a time limit for the challenge. By using social media tools like Twitter and Facebook, one can invite challengers to take the duel forward.
After the user chooses a suitable challenger, the two of them can continue constructing the poem. The poets exchange verses and the battle lasts until one of them fails to submit a verse within the stipulated time period. People who bear witness to these duels get to award quills to their favourite stanzas. Based on the number of quills the challengers earn, a winner is declared.