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Saturday, April 13, 2024
HomeNewsLocal newsRavina Wadhwani Lights Up 81C's Inaugural Open Mic

Ravina Wadhwani Lights Up 81C’s Inaugural Open Mic

Nationally acclaimed poet Ravina Wadhwani made her hometown debut Sunday at 81C on St. Thomas (Source photo by Ananta Pancham)

Ravina Wadhwani’s foundation as a writer may have been laid on St. Thomas but it wasn’t until Sunday that she made her hometown debut, adding her lyrical voice and nationally acclaimed prose to an afternoon set at 81C, which also officially opened its weekly open mic for local poets.

Though she gravitated towards writing as a child, it wasn’t until a high school teacher at Antilles School saw a spark in her that she truly embraced her potential. “I didn’t believe her until years later,” Wadhwani confessed, reflecting on the transformative power of encouragement. Later finding a haven in Boston’s open mic scene, she honed her craft, her voice yearning for a platform that had been absent in her youth.

Los Angeles became her next stage, where she not only performs and writes but also empowers others to find healing and expression through poetry. Over the short span of just the past few years, Wadhwani, also a mental health therapist, founded Writing as Healing Los Angeles, performed on nationally and internationally acclaimed stages – from the House of Blues to the United Nations – and released her debut collection “Yellow,” winner of the Long Beach Best Poetry Collection in 2021.

The four poems Wadhwani shared Sunday stemmed from “Yellow,” each imbued with her own life and perspective, resonated with the audience Sunday.

“Spoken word,” she explained, “is about breathing life into the written word.”

Her poems resonated with themes of resilience in the face of loss, heartbreak, and the complexities of being an Indian American woman. Yet, amidst the challenges, there was a powerful message of self-acceptance and the release of pain.

Poets Ravina Wadhwani and V.I. Crawl’s Kalarni Rivers share laughter and experiences after Sunday’s open mic following Wadhwani’s performance. (Source photo by Ananta Pancham)

“My beautifully messy, multicultural, melting pot of a lens has allowed me to accept that we aren’t meant to fit into boxes. My culture isn’t meant to be defined by one shade, or form, or shape. It is fluid, and influenced by so many flavors, textures and colors. As an artist, and a mental health therapist it is my goal to provide a safe space to help people feel seen, and loved for exactly who they are no matter where they come from. I wanted to write to so that people feel empowered to accept themselves and to be able to release that hurt and that pain.”

For aspiring young poets, Wadhwani’s advice was clear.

“Write for yourself. When it comes from your truth, your core, that’s when the magic happens,” she said.




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