A three-day fete of poetry readings, book launches, workshops, and music gets underway from December 9 under the joint auspices of Pondicherry Poets and The Brown Critique. The focus of this year’s festival is “peace.”

The events will unfold at Adishakti, in association with the Sri Aurobindo Society and Palais de Mahé, in collaboration with People for Pondicherry Heritage.

The festival will open at Adishakti Theatre at Edayanchavadi Road at 5 p.m. shortly followed by a session with playwright Anju Makhija in conversation with Anu Majumdar, poet and author of Auroville: A City Of The Future.

Following the launch, 19 poets from throughout the country will read their work through the evening. Entry to the event is free.

According to Gayatri Majumdar, poet-writer and founder-editor of The Brown Critique, a critically acclaimed literary journal, apart from launches of seven books, the festival over its packed three-day celebration of literature will mark Subramania Bharati’s 137th birth anniversary on December 11, with readings of his poems by Pondicherry University students and poet Palanisamy Sundararasu.

Also on the schedule are a recitation of Sri Aurobindo’s poems and reading of Kabir’s work translated by Sehdev Kumar, Professor Emeritus of Environmental Studies at the University of Waterloo, Canada, known for his translation of Kabir’s verses from his book The Vision Of Kabir: Live Poems Of A 15th-century Weaver-Sage.

Murali Sivaramakrishnan, poet, painter, professor, and former Chair of English, Pondicherry University, and Shruti Bidwaikar, assistant director of Sri Aurobindo Centre for Advanced Research (SACAR), will give talks on the poetry of Sri Aurobindo at the Society Hall in Sri Aurobindo Society on the occasion. Arjita Chowdhury will sing devotional songs to mark the day.

The line-up of some other poets participating in the event include Menka Sivdasani, whose collection of poetry Frazil was brought out by Paperwall Media recently; Rita Nath Keshari, associate professor of English, Tagore Arts College in Pondicherry; award-winning poet Vinita Agarwal from Mumbai, who released her book of poems Two Full Moons recently; and Anjali Purohit, who is the founder and curator of The Cappuccino Adda (formerly Cappuccino Readings), an initiative aimed at promoting a literary cafe culture in Mumbai and whose book, Go Talk To The River: The Ovis Of Bahinabai Choudhari was also published recently.

Also providing value to the fete are Joan Dobbie (Eugene, Oregon, US), K.S. Mani (Chennai), Barnali Ray Shukla (Mumbai), Nitya Swaruba (Pondicherry), Smita Sahay (Mumbai), Subhana Sawhny (Mumbai), Syed Ameeruddin (Chennai), Dr. Anand Kumar (Delhi/Auroville) and Kala Ramesh (Pune).

Poet and editor of Gallerie Bina Sarkar Ellias’ poem Peace will also be read at the venue. Writer Véronik Menanteau will also read Arthur Rimbaud’s Le Bateau Ivre (The Drunken Boat) at the launch.

A couple of workshops The Mask Speaks by American poet Joan Dobbie and another on Haiku/Haibun by Pune-based poet Kala Ramesh will be conducted at AURA Shoppe on December 10 and 11. The organizers recommend prior registration for both.

The Pondicherry Poets was founded in 2017 by Sahitya Akademi awardee poet-playwright Anju Makhija and Ms. Gayatri Majumdar, aiming to create a platform for poets to share their work at various offbeat venues in PuducherryAuroville and elsewhere. This is also the first poetry festival brought about by their collaboration in the city.

This article originally appeared in The Hindu on December 10, 2018, and has been reposted with permission.

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This post was written by M. Dinesh Varma.

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