THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The city is always whimsical when it comes to endorsing initiatives. While it thronged the venue of the extravagant Hay Festival that came to town in November, the organisers of the Kritya International Poetry Festival-2012 are disappointed at the lukewarm response from the public on day one.
Almost twenty foreign poets from countries as varied as Japan, Korea, Mexico, Albania, Canada, Ireland, Italy, Turkey, Wales, Israel, Sweden and Brazil have assembled to take part in the ongoing festival, which was inaugurated at the Vyloppilli Samskrithi Bhavan on January 16.
The disheartening audience turnout is also embarrassing as Kerala has a reputation for its exemplary literary leanings, said festival director Rati Saxena. ‘’Poetry is mental food, there is no material gain that you can hope for from being at a poetry festival. The fact that people are reluctant to spare time for poetry reflects how selfish we have become as a society,” she said.
Saxena doesn’t believe that publicity and marketing could have turned the tables in favour of the festival. “Splurging of money and roping in celebrities are easy ways to ensure audience. But I don’t want to do it that way. Poetry is not to be read in such an ambiance. It has to be done with care, sweetness and quietude,’’ said the poet who has also made a mark as translator and Sanskrit scholar.
The festival’s inaugural poetry reading was done by O N V Kurup. Urdu poet Khaleel Ur Rahman, Spanish poet Raquel Lanseros and Japanese poet Sayumi Kamakura read their verses in the morning session. Francoise Roy (Canada), Ilda Poshi (Albania), Leeladhar Mandloi (India), Gabriel Rosentock (Ireland), Ataol Behramoglu (Turkey), Menna Elfyn (Wales)Malayalam writers K Satchidanandan and K Jayakumar and Tamil poet Neela Padmanabhan were among the authors who participated in the reading sessions of the day.
The organisers have made elaborate arrangements for the convenience of audiences in following the poems being read. English translations of the poems are projected on an LCD monitor placed on the stage while a poem is being read. It is also followed up by the reading out of a Malayalam translation.
A photo poetry exhibition by Norwegian writer and film-maker Odveig Klyve and an exhibition of paintings by Additional Chief Secretary K Jayakumar have also begun at the venue.