Going from Superman to poet is a rather atypical route, but that’s exactly what Shivram Gopinath’s performing journey turned out to be. In this interview, he shares more about himself and his teaching.
Shivram will be teaching “Spoken Word: Writing & Performing Poetry” at HCAC this semester.
1. Tell us a little about yourself.
I was born in Chennai, India. Shuffled off to Singapore for university 14 years ago because dad thought I’d be up to no good back home. Have stayed here ever since. I like football, scrabble, gummi bears. I bite my nails when I’m nervous.
2. What is one thing that we don’t know just by looking at you?
I have a twin sister.
3. How old were you when you first started performing?
If you count my turn as Superman in a school play, 4. If it were my terrible attempts at poetry in order to catch female attention (which I failed at miserably), 18. And seriously, at 27.
4. Tell us your favorite memory as a performer.
National Poetry Slam, 2015. I was first one up. Lights came on. I blanked out after my first line. Kept repeating it while simultaneously pounding my brain to come good. Finally did. Miraculously, with a ton of luck, won the thing.
5. Who’s your favorite poet?
All-time: Bharathiyar. Right now: MF Doom, CA Conrad
6. What do you teach?
Writing and performing poetry.
7. What is your teaching philosophy?
I can’t teach you. You can teach you. I can definitely help.
8. What skills, values or mindset do you most want to impart to your students?
Openness, empathy, self-awareness, presence. And taste – knowing whether what you’ve come up with is a glorious piece of art or a shit stain on humanity.
9. Tell us your favorite memory as a teacher.
A workshop for 5-year olds. An especially quiet boy came up to me afterwards to tell me he’s written a poem for me. And in magenta ink on ruled paper were the words:
“You are awesome. I want a possum.”
10. What do you wish you’d known before you started as a performer?
No one knows what they’re doing. Every single person is lost in some way, and figuring stuff out.
11. What do you think the future of poetry and performance in Singapore will be like?
I think it will be glorious. There is far too much talent. Just needs a breaking of the dam.