top of page

Jay Mitra: Promises of a Punk Poet

Updated: Apr 11

Written by Zulema Ali.

Preview of Interview in Volume 002: The New Generation


Jay Mitra (they/he), artist, music journalist, punk poet, and teacher in training - sparks joy to all that listen to their words. With their poems poised to strike chords in audiences' emotions, he weaves his words together effortlessly to beautifully encapsulate the complexities of identity, nuances of the desi experience, anger, and love. Their award-winning words capture audiences, and it's about time now that we all started listening. 


Disturb The Peace Shoot Credits:

Model: Jay Mitra

Creative Director: Sophia Green

Producer: Aaliya Choudhury

Photographer: Riki Verma

Photography Assistant: Hara Kaur

BTS Photographer: Sophia Green & Elissa Shafeek

Interviewers: Devanshi Arora, Sameen Ayub, Leila Malik, Zulema Ali & Manvi Dixit

Videographer: Sophia Green

BTS & Content Videography: Diya Bechoo, Rajesh Bhovan & Shuma Begum

Stylist: Diya Bechoo 

HMUA: Sarah Haroon & Rajesh Bhovan

Runners: Hergun Virdi, Milan Dandwani & Saffah Anjum


Jay is used to their words being heard by audiences but today I was listening to them from a different stage. Our interview took place during our cover shoot, their punk style reflected in silver studded accessories, blended now with red hints in their outfit and makeup. 


He begins with his journey with poetry and its evolution into punk. Falling into poetry as an art form, began in teenage years, ‘everyone as a teenager probably writes angsty poetry at some point in their lives’. But if this was the origin, poetry had its second revival during their gap year, when they were teaching English in a secondary school. A colleague recommended a poetry open mic night that sparked something within Jay. ‘The guy who ran the open mic, he was a whole punk poet. And when I saw him perform, I was like this is insane. Like he’s a frontman but without the band. I was like ‘I want to do that’. It was this performance that really inspired Jay to consider punk poetry. They always had a drive to perform, to connect with crowds, but without the gift of music, (the piano was briefly learnt and subsequently given up), punk poetry became the perfect way to encapsulate this dream. It ‘is this great in-between space between literature, the comfort of writing and still engaging with people’. Punk’s desire ‘to amplify marginalised voices and encourage a disregard for hierarchy’ resonated with Jay, and so, punk poetry became a natural fit. 


As they fell further into the world of punk poetry, Jay recognised the connection between punk and the desi spirit. ‘Desi's have a lot of spirit when it comes to fighting back’, punk provides this same platform. ‘Punk is a space in which you are encouraged to fight back and critique the system’. Punk poetry harnesses this energy in verbal and visual explorations. But while the desi spirit works well with the punk ideology, Jay spoke candidly of reality of operating within such a subculture: ‘I think it would be naive to say punk is a super diverse scene’, but while something can be white dominated it doesn’t automatically mean ‘it’s the property of whiteness’. ‘Punk has always been about a state of alienation’, it is not an exclusive club. But ‘even though punk is meant to be a space for the outcasts in society, not all POC punks feel equally welcomed all the time.’


But in entering spaces so used to whiteness, Jay utilises this reality to introduce audiences to new experiences. Opening occasionally for punk bands, and musicians, Jay is accustomed to seas of white faces. ‘I often use those spaces, which are white dominated, to tell stories from a queer Indian perspective, stories that they probably have never experienced or heard of before’. They refuse to tailor their pieces to a white audience. ‘I have a poem called ‘Ode to Dharwad Pedha’ …


Read More in Volume 002: The New Generation


 

This article was published in Volume 002, The New Generation. For more content check out our print magazine now!




47 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All

Comments


bottom of page