HYDERABAD : April is National Poetry Month and as the uncertainty around the lockdown period increases and people get in a somber mood due to prolonged solitary period, poets are taking to Instagram by going live and reading their works. The poems or prose pieces range from genres of realism, surrealism, abstract, newsy to phantasm, fluid narratives and more. Quite interestingly some of these forums feature several Indian poets. That’s how Mumbai-based giant bookstore Kitab Khana, located at Fort area has joined hands with the Indian Novels Collective and has started 14- day live streaming of poetry rendition on Instagram. The event is curated by poet-professor Ashwani Kumar, who teaches at TISS Mumbai.
He says, “Though the genres may be different the poems being read are on peace and well being. It’s also about multilingual India. We have poets reading in Marathi, Tamil, Gujarati, Hindi, Manipuri among other Indian languages.” Noted poets like Mangalesh Dabral, K Satchidanandan, and Devi Prasad Mishra are part of it. The Instagram handle of Kitabkhana has 10,800 followers. Says one of the staffers, “We want to be the respite for our followers and others from Corona news and rumours. We want them to stay mentally strong and keep moving forward.
Together we can overcome this deafening silence before the uproar of hungry mouths begin.” The event was inaugurated on March 31 was noted contemporary poet Arundhathi Subramaniam who said in her inaugural message, “This feels like some kind of virtual campfire, a chance to warm our hands. There’s something about poetry particularly in times of uncertainty that it has a role which is quite irreplaceable.”
At the same time Joie Bose, founder of Poetry Paradigm collected 160 poetry videos from poets from India and other countries uploading the videos on the Facebook page for all to see. She says, “The best part is that Ruskin Bond read one of his poems without any fee. He recorded a video especially for us and sent it. More than 25 kids read their works online.
The age group was from eight to 80.” She’s going live on Facebook again on Sunday for a children’s workshop on reading, writing poetry in collaboration with Oxford Bookstore. Back home in Hyderabad, Umar Siddiqui who’s from Lucknow and works for a software company in Hyderabad chooses Instagram for going live as he thinks Facebook is a little outdated. He says, “I usually go live after 9 pm as people are available at that time and by then I also finish my work.” He reads mostly his own ghazals and is now planning to read poetry by Shariq Kaifi, Abhishek Shukla, Subhan Asad among other Urdu poets. Going live isn’t just about the rendition of poetry, some poets are organising online workshops on nuances of poetry as well as promoting the same on Facebook and Instagram.
Riasath Ali Asrar, founder of Anjuman-e-Fannan is conducting a workshop on prosody titled ‘Science of Urdu Poetry’, which is a fivesession event on the language, its structure and different forms of poetry. He says, “We are celebrating the National Poetry Month as Maah-e- Sukhan. For those, who are interested, we are providing a table of prompts for each week using different images and words. That way the language stays fresh and writers get more creative.”saima@newindianexpress @Sfreen