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Bengaluru Poetry Festival 2022: Celebrating the spoken word

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The Bengaluru Poetry Festival is back for its sixth edition this weekend after a two-year break

The Bengaluru Poetry Festival is back for its sixth edition this weekend after a two-year break

The Bengaluru Poetry Festival (BPF) returns to the city this weekend after a gap of two years. Presented by Atta Galatta, the event spread over two days will see as many as 70 poets and artistes participating in various interactive sessions and workshops.

Subodh Sankar, founder of Atta Galatta and one of the organisers of BPF, says one of striking features of the festival is its inclusion of poetry in multiple languages. “We have readings by poets in different languages. We don’t restrict ourselves to a theme as it ends up creating boundaries where none need exist,” he says, adding, “It is a celebration of Indian poetry and a chance to bring those voices to a live audience.”

For Bengaluru-based poetess Mani Rao, the joy of being part of BPF is a celebration in itself. “The BPF is one of those events where there are no overlapping sessions; everyone can enjoy every module without having to scurry out of one halfway, just to attend another. Here, there will be two intense days poetry sessions. Today, there are so many people writing poetry in different styles and through their work one can get an idea of their views. The spoken word has really taken off in India,” says Mani, who is looking forward to meeting poets she has read at the fest as well as other members of the poet community.

Previous editions of the Bengaluru Poetry Festival
| Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

While the festival itself may not centre around a theme, some of the sessions at the event follow a specific thread. For instance, this edition of the festival will see a panel of poets who write strong political poetry, reflective of the times we are in, says Subodh.

One of the participants on this panel is Manipuri activist Irom Sharmila who will not only be reading her own work but also that of Telangana activist Varavara Rao, in an act of solidarity. “Varavara Rao has been arrested 20 times without any conviction by successive governments. I will be reading six of his poems at the festival,” says Irom, who will also be reading from her ‘Waiting’ which she penned while in prison. “I believe festivals like these are important as they provide a platform to express our views on society’s ailments.”

Some of the interactive sessions at BPF this year include translation of poetry as well as its publication, apart from workshops on crafting ghazals and writing multi-lingual poetry. “There are a couple of sessions for children too, mainly to get them interested in poetry. Apart from rhymes, there isn’t a lot of poetry written specifically for children so we’ve designed activities with poetic elements to engage them. For example, a play in one of the children’s sessions uses limericks as a way to introduce a type of poetry to a young audience,” says Subodh.

Previous editions of the Bengaluru Poetry Festival

Previous editions of the Bengaluru Poetry Festival
| Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

Bengaluru-based upcoming children’s author Lavanya Kapahi, a participant at the event, says, “My book Many Colours of Us is not only a story in verse form, but is also about diversity and inclusion. It takes readers on a colourful journey across India as I felt our country was the best example to introduce the idea of diversity to children.”

The sixth edition of BPF will begin with an invocation and rendering by a choir of 34 visually impaired children and their teacher from the Jyoti Seva Sadan Trust and conclude with a performance by Jeet Thayil, poet, novelist and musician with his band Hollis Coats, Disco Puppet (Shoumik Biswas) and Sangeeta Agnes Hose.

The sixth edition of the Bengaluru Poetry Festival will take place on August 27 and 28 at The Leela Palace, Old Airport Road, Bengaluru. Entry free. For more details visit https://www.bengalurupoetryfestival.org/



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