BENGALURU: Soumya Ramasamy hosts poetry reading sessions every alternative Sunday in Cubbon Park since June last year The reading takes place even if no one turns up. “There has been times when 40 people show up for the session and there are times when nobody does,” says Soumya. “When no one turns up I sit by myself and read my poetry and leave,” she adds.
Sitting on a pink mat near a broken tree, on a sultry Sunday afternoon, Soumya waits for people to show up without much expectation. After sometime Madhu turns up. “I have been quite regular with attending the sessions ever since my first time in June,” says Madhu, a Chemistry student from Mount Carmel College.
Soumya and Madhu wait for another ten minutes and when both are certain that no one else will turn up they decide to proceed with the session.
Every session is around a topic and this is on gender equality. Madhu starts by reading out Maya Angelou’s ‘Phenomenal Women’. She hesitates to share her own poetry because it was written three years ago, she says. Soumya reads hers which was crafted for International Women’s Day and she dedicates the poem to her late mother and grandmother.
“They may have left the world but they will live forever in my words,” says Soumya before she reads her poem titled “Be bold for change”.
The group, called Zero-budget Poetry. started as a friends' get-together over te and poetry readings. They have always been short on money. “We don’t have a budget for our session and we hope we never will. The participants bring their own mats to sit on, own umbrellas and hats and even food,” Soumya laughs. “We don’t have anything but we are here to offer our passion of poetry and a message that poetry is not just for the elite,” she sighs.
The poetry reading is not limited to English. Poems are read out in Kannada, Hindi and Urdu as well. The group sees diverse participants as well, even poets from Afghanistan.
The session ends with critical comments and the two decide that the next topic of the session should be forgotten women in history such as Queen Boudica, who avenged the rape of her two daughters, and Poet Sappho, who was from the island of Lesbos in Greece and from whom the term Lesbian originated.