Bengaluru Poetry Festival 2023: Conversing art

Ahead of the upcoming Bengaluru Poetry Festival in the first week of August, poets and organisers share their anticipation for the much-awaited literary event 
For representational purposes
For representational purposes

BENGALURU:  The Bengaluru Poetry Festival (BPF) is back to enthral all the poets and fans of poetry in the city. The 2023 rendition of this festival will happen on August 5 and 6, at Grand Mercure, Gopalan Signature Mall, Old Madras Road and is organised by Atta Galatta. Eminent poets like Javed Akhtar and Jerry Pinto are scheduled to be present at the literary event.

With this being the 7th edition of BPF, Subodh Shankar, co-founder of Atta Galatta, feels the pressure to pull such an event off is ‘entirely self-induced’. “Each year in the past, we have been supported by fantastic audience turnout. Not just in numbers but in the way the audience interacts with the poets on stage and brings about an atmosphere that is unmatched in terms of passion and energy.

This has resonated with both the invited poets and the audience in an almost magical way at past festivals. Every year, the pressure is therefore to try and match, if not slightly exceed these expectations. As a festival organising team, the expectation on us is to find the best in poetry from the past year. The logistical challenges are the other set of pressures. To ensure our guests – the invited poets and the audience are given a great experience is our primary objective,” shares Shankar. 

For Shobha Tharoor Srinivasan, author and poet who writes primarily for children, it will be her first time at a festival fully dedicated to poetry and poets. “I was invited last year but was in California at the time,” she says. On India’s current crop of childrens’ writers, Srinivasan elaborates, “There are many excellent writers in the children’s space. But then as writers for children, we write because we have something to share with them. Of course we need to be mindful that we are writing in a digital and visual world with many distractions for kids so it’s all the more important to write books that have lasting value and that draw in  children immersed in a world away from books.”

Another first-time participant to BPF is the young poet and writer Aekta Khubchandani. Even though she has attended the festival before, this will be her first time featuring in it. “So, I have been in the US for the past four years and want to connect with writers and poets from the community here. A lot of things happen together at the US festivals, people have identification badges, magazines display their work and people are free to buy them.

But a festival like BPF, I feel, is more authentic because the conversations are more personal. When I was here the last time, Arundhathi Subramaniam was in conversation with Sadhguru. Talks at BPF feel more in context to my culture and history of where I come from,” says Khubchandani. 

Bengalurean and poet Aparna Chivukula, who won the Toto Award for poetry earlier this year, feels Bengaluru has spaces to practice poetry for people of all ages in the city. “The city also inspires poetry in other ways. There’s such a mix of people, art galleries etc. There’s ample space for writing poetry and reading it as well,” says Chivukula, who teaches writing at Mount Carmel College.

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