In your city: Chennai
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Singer, writer and poet Leonard Cohen, who died recently, believed that poetry was simply the evidence of a life lived—“If your life is burning well, poetry is just the ash”.
Remnants of various lives will trickle into the 10th edition of Prakriti’s annual poetry festival, which started in Chennai on 29 November and will go on till 14 December. “The audience can expect lots of new, exciting things. Poetry will be interpreted not just through readings but through music, dance and film as well,” says Ranvir Shah, festival curator and founder of the Chennai-based Prakriti Arts Foundation.
The festival, which incidentally coincides with Chennai’s annual music season, has poets reading their work in multiple locations across the city—parks, cafeterias, offices, bookshops and educational institutions. “Performance poets intersect the space between performance and poetry, therefore making the poetry experience complete,” says Shah.
The festival brings together 30 eminent and emerging poets,including Keki Daruwalla, Arundathi Subramaniam, Sudeep Sen, Charles Stein (US), George Quasha (US), Rachael Long (UK), Bina Sarkar Ellias and Priya Sarukkai Chabria.
Apart from the readings, there will be two performances: Blank Page, a play based on poems by Sunil Shanbag, and Eternal Embrace by Astad Deboo, based on Bulleh Shah’s poetry. The festival will also see the launch of Perumal Murugan’s new book on 10 December, and a poetry slam contest for students on 7 December.
“When it began 10 years ago it was one of the few festivals for poetry in India,” says poet Arundathi Subramaniam, whose recent book When God Is A Traveller (2014) was shortlisted for the TS Eliot Prize. “It is a pioneering festival and I really am looking forward to it.” Subramaniam says she is particularly looking forward to the poetry-reading sessions being organized across various city colleges because “there is still the capacity for wonder among younger people”.