BEYOND LANGUAGES AND CULTURES: SPOKEN WORD ISTANBUL "The city where East meets West". This is probably the first thing one would hear about Istanbul before visiting the city. "The city where continents merge". Only after spending some time in Istanbul and immersing oneself into the city life, one could understand that this definition, which at first glance appears solely stemming from a geographical viewpoint (for, after all, Europe and Asia do actually merge here), bears a deeper implication.

Founded by Merve Pehlivan in 2012, Spoken Word Istanbul is a multilingual open-mic event, where you can live through an experience like this. Spoken Word Istanbul, which in a sense is a combination of Speakers’ Corner in London’s Hyde Park (where one could go up and say whatever one would want to say) and the Meddah (storyteller) tradition of the folkloric Turkish theatre, gives an opportunity to anyone who want to show their talent or make themselves heard.

As the boundaries of language and culture that separate people become opaque for a period every Tuesday evening on the small stage of Arsen Lüpen (a bar in Beyoğlu), mostly young amateurs from Italy to Uruguay, from the United States to Syria, from Iran to Germany hold the microphone and sing, or read a poem, or sometimes just tell whatever is in their hearts. 

Spoken Word Istanbul, inspired by Spoken Word Paris started in 2006 in Paris (although they are not organically linked, there’s a common spirit between the two), is a platform founded to share joy and sadness while bringing together people who are increasingly estranged from each other. 

In an interview published on The Guide Istanbul’s website, a regular visitor of Spoken Word Istanbul, Justin Pahl, describes his experience as follows: "We’re ordinary artists, doing our best, but often failing to say what we mean to say. But communities like this are important. They provide the foundation, the soil, within any city or country, from which vibrant, healthy dialogues can grow."

If, on a Tuesday evening, you happen to stop by Spoken Word Istanbul, you will see that the British poet Rudyard Kipling’s famous line, "East is east, and west is west, and never the twain shall meet", becomes insignificant for a moment.

For more info about Spoken Word Istanbul you can visit https://www.facebook.com/SpokenWordIstanbul/