For better or verse: The Poetry Festival arrives in namma Bengaluru
Festival Director, Shinie Antony tells us all about the events we can expect this year at the Bengaluru Poetry Festival 2019, that will be held this weekend in the city
Whether it is about enjoying a bouquet of sonnets or singing a bunch of ballads, poetry is immensely popular among young people. From writing poetry to reading poems as diverse as those written by Rumi to Emily Dickenson to Rupi Kaur, there is a sudden surge in the number of poetry lovers in city. Last year, there were over 5,000 poetry lovers at the two-day Poetry Festival in Bengaluru, making the event the surprise hit of 2018.
This year, the fourth edition of Bengaluru Poetry Festival is scheduled to be held on July 20 and 21, from 10 AM to 8 PM at The Taj Westend. The festival has already attracted a number of internationally recognised poets and artistes and the stage is set for another weekend of incredible poetry performances for literary connoisseurs of Bangalore.
In an exclusive interaction with Shinie Antony, Festival Director, Bengaluru Poetry Festival 2019, we get to hear about all about their plans this year. Here is a curtain raiser on the event…
Edited excerpts from the interview…
YSWeekender: Can you tell us how the concept of the Poetry Festival was conceived?
Shinie Antony: Lakshmi and Subodh Sankar, founders of Atta Galatta, were discussing how there was no Poetry Festival for miles and miles around this city. Soon, they came up with concept of the Bengaluru Poetry Festival. Atta Galatta, as you know, has always promoted poetry and poetry sessions, and so we decided to do hold a festival as well.
YSW: What are the highlights of the event this year?
SA: Rappers are really in this year, thanks to the film, Gully Boy. Actor Siddhanth Chaturvedi will be with us this year. He is a poet and writes poems regularly on his Instagram page. We are also featuring Kannada rap this year.
YSW: Who are some of the famous people at the event this year?
SA: Some of the famous poets, writers and speakers at the show this year include Manoj Muntashir, Perumal Murugan, Sadhguru, Sundeep Bhutoria, Rike Scheffer, Jeet Thayil, Prakash Sankaran and many more.
YSW: What was special last year and what worked well?
SA: Last year, there were many poets who had a large audience to listen to them. The very energetic Usha Uthup kept everyone on their toes with her singing. German poet Ulrike Sandig performed with the band Alif. Jerry Pinto spoke on 'Why Write Poetry?' Also, young poets like Rabia Kapoor were a surprise package.
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YSW: What are some of the exclusive performances this year, other than the rap?
SA: Siddhant Chaturvedi will handle the first day, Sadhguru will kickstart the second day with spiritual poetry. He will be in conversation with leading poet, Arundhathi Subramaniam.
YSW: What is the aim of the festival and how has it evolved over the years?
SA: The aim is to popularise poetry and this event has seen footfalls increasing year on year. What is surprising is that we see a lot of youngsters flocking to all the poetry sessions nowadays.
YSW: Is poetry still very popular, considering that people are not even reading books nowadays?
SA: Surprisingly, it is. A lot more youngsters are writing poems and reading poetry.
YSW: From the earlier festivals, what kind of poems have people loved and continue to love?
SA: We cannot say that there is that one kind of poetry that is popular. There are takers for all kinds of poetry, irrespective of the language it is written in.
YSW: What are some of the panel discussions about this year?
SA: There are many different kinds of panel discussions, right from Kitchen Travels, Love in Unreal Times, Quietly Flows the Word, When Verse Goes Viral, The Poet and the Patriot, Speaking in Tongues, The Body is also in the Soul, A Rose by any other Name and many more. This year we have also included dance and poetry and we have Sudha Rao, a dancer trained at Kalakshetra, coming all the way from New Zealand to be part of the festival and to release her book of poetry on dance.
YSW: In your opinion, why is poetry such a powerful medium of expression?
SA: I think it is a powerful medium of expression because it combines language with an inner arithmetic. It takes instinct and intuition and sutures it with language.
YSW: Which are some of your own favourite poems?
SA: Emily Dickinson's, “I never saw a moor, I never saw the sea...”
YSW: What are your plans for the future for the festival and how do you plan to improve on it over the years?
SA: Year on year, we have been getting some of the best poets in the country and outside, from all walks of life, and we would like to continue doing that in a holistic way. Poetry is mainstream now.