A poetry festival is on its way. The Bengaluru Poetry Festival is gearing up for its fourth birthday. Begun in 2016 by Atta-Galatta (a bookshop and literary hub in Bengaluru) founders Lakshmi and Subodh Sankar, this is one fest that keeps audiences spellbound with couplets, alliteration, blank verse and all that’s poetry.
For this year’s edition many, many poets are lined up – German, Tibetan, Hindi, Urdu, Punjabi, Bangla, Odia, Marathi, Malayali, Tamil and Kannadiga… Day one to open with MC Sher from Gully Boy, actor Siddhant Chaturvedi, whose insta account showcases his poems already. Day two to start off with some spiritual poetry by none other than Sadhguru, following a performance by the musical band, Sounds of Isha.
Rike Scheffler, a performance poet from Germany, with The Rest is Resonance; Sarbjot Behl and Seema Grewal from Punjab, with Peeda da Paraaga (the ripened corn of pain), Anitha Thampi and TP Rajeevan from Kerala with Neerkavithakal (water poems); Perumal Murugan and TM Krishna, who will together make words dance to music in Tamil; Hoshang Merchant with The Body is also in the soul; Jeet Thayil talking about rebel poetry with Maitreyee Chowdhury. All this as Irshad Kamil, Manoj Muntashir and Raj Shekhar sing to us.
The session The Poet and the Patriot will relate poetry to everyday politics, and the session Kitchen Travels is all set to explore if women can ever lose the homemaker tag.
Tenzin Tsundue Tibetan, Sudhir Ranjan Singh and Hemant Deolekar Hindi, Manu Dash Odia, Angshhuman Kar and Mandakranta Sen Bangla, Pradnya Daya Pawarr and Anuradha Patil Marathi, Prathibha Nandakumar and Veeranna Madiwalar Kannada, along with English poets Arundhathi Subramaniam, Ranjit Hoskote, Poorna Swami, Sukrita Paul Singh, Sampurna Chattarji, Anjali Purohit, Monica Mody.
New poets Satyajit Sarna, Jayshree Misra Tripathi, Sudha Rao and Andrea Jeremiah, the Tamil actor whose first book of poems in English, Solitude, is just coming out. The session I Never Saw a Moor, I Never Saw the Sea will explore the prescient in poetry while Quietly Flows the Word will focus on poets whose first poetry books are just out. Speaking in Tongues and Sound and the Word will both celebrate the multiplicity of thought and languages.
Translators Mani Rao, Huma Mirza and Arunava Sinha to address the highs and lows of their trade along with other poets in a session called A Rose By Any Other Name. A session on online poetry, When Verse Goes Viral, and one on children’s poetry, When We Were Very Young, will go into contextual details.
Kannada gets full play with Anaathmana Kaavya Yaana as well as Namma Poets, which will see boys and girls from Bengaluru pre-selected by their entries to the festival read out their poems.
Workshops to look forward are too many: Excuse me, is this a poem (Anushka Ravishankar), Button where? Button there! (Aparna Kapuur) and They Searched for Blue (Barnali Ray Shukla) for children. Come to your Senses (Ranjit Hoskote) and Sanskrit Prosody for absolutely-not-Sanskrit Poets (Mani Rao) for adults.
So many festivals out there, but this one travels its own path, of mehfil and iambic metre, of rhyme and a little reason. Everything that flows into poetry and everything that flows out of poetry will find a place along with readings for two whole days. All verse aficionados, please be in Bengaluru this 20th and 21st.
Shinie Antony is a writer and editor based in Bangalore. Her books include The Girl Who Couldn't Love, Barefoot and Pregnant, Planet Polygamous, and the anthologies Why We Don’t Talk, An Unsuitable Woman, Boo. Winner of the Commonwealth Short Story Asia Prize for her story A Dog’s Death in 2003, she is the co-founder of the Bangalore Literature Festival and director of the Bengaluru Poetry Festival. Read Shinie Antony's columns