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In new rhythm 

With the online space being more than choked, especially with live sessions on social media, Sankar felt that pre-recorded sessions which have a themed look would help them differentiate themselves.

Published: 21st July 2020 03:46 AM  |   Last Updated: 21st July 2020 03:24 PM   |  A+A-

Lakshmi and Subodh Sankar

Lakshmi and Subodh Sankar

Express News Service

BENGALURU :The fifth edition of Bangalore Poetry Festival takes an online turn, and will see Kannada writer Prathibha Nandakumar’s reading of Varavara Rao’s works, besides eminent personalities like K Satchidanandan,  Ranjit Hoskote and American poet Annie Finch 

A flurry of activity, a houseful audience to listen to some of the best known voices in poetry, signings and interactions... This has been the scene at the Bangalore Poetry Festival (BPF) over the last four years. Now, to keep the flame alive, BPF will bring together poets from across the globe on August 9. Readings, performances, interviews and panel discussions will be released on their website and social media. “All the usuals will be here, along with some highly unusuals as the planet around us undergoes an upheaval: poets across all languages, word palettes from all over the world and most importantly, a message of hope, where poetry does away with geography and, in the truest sense of the term, becomes borderless,” says Lakshmi Sankar, founder of Atta Galatta, the city-based bookstore and events space. She, along with her husband, Subodh Sankar, conceptualised the BPF.    

The BPF itself came into existence when the couple realised that while poetry as a form of self-expression was gaining popularity, and Indian poets and poetry were increasingly being recognised world-over, there were limited opportunities available for poets within the existing literary festival platforms. “It’s about providing a space for verse to be engaged with – by poets, readers, performers and the audience – across forms, formats and languages. With the changes the world has been going through this year, it is even more important to reiterate a message of hope and togetherness across borders, languages and people,” Sankar says. 

This year’s line-up includes American poet Annie Finch, who has curated and edited a collection of poetry on women’s bodies and abortion; Asiya Zahoor, a young poet from Kashmir, who will be on a panel discussing poetry of protest and resistance; K Satchidanandan, senior poet and past president of the Sahitya Akademi; Meera Dasgupta, the 2020 youth poet laureate of the USA; Kannada poet Prathibha Nandakumar, who is putting together a collection of Varavara Rao’s poetry; American spoken word artist and performance poet Venus Jones, who came to the forefront of the Black Lives Matter movement; and Ranjit Hoskote, who will presenting a craft talk based around his collection, Lal Ded.

With the online space being more than choked, especially with live sessions on social media, Sankar felt that pre-recorded sessions which have a themed look would help them differentiate themselves. “We didn’t want to be just another programme fighting for online space. So we told our participants how we want the recordings to be done with ambience being given great importance,” she says.  Around 20 sessions will be uploaded in a single day, which is why each session has been kept crisp, lasting between five and 15 minutes. 

While nothing can compare to a physical programme, which she hopes will resume next year, this online format has helped them reach out to more poets from across the world than it was previously possible. “There’s nothing that can compensate the real-world feel. But, on the other hand, this version has explored a whole new range of poets and possibilities,” she says, adding that there is no Covid theme to the sessions owing to the anxiety-inducing information overload, and that she prefers it to be an escapists’ channel. 

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