‘Ilam Kavi Manrum’, an avenue opened by Mallappally Institute for Academic Excellence,which has registered seven sets of baby footprints in the history of Malayalam poetry, will enter into its eighth year this November.
As the name suggests, ‘Ilam Kavi Manrum’ is an open space for budding poetic talents. The organisers are a happy lot to see what started in 2006, as a counter creative space for children against the typical writing competitions where they are made to sit in a room and write and judged, has bloomed leaving behind testimonies of creativity, coordination and commitment. During the last seven years, the movement has identified hundreds of children-writers. Above all, seven volumes of ‘Ilam Kavi Manrum Kavithakal’, poems by the children, have been published.
The brainchild of James Kannimala, a school teacher and a keen follower of Malayalam poetry, ‘Ilam Kavi Manrum’ was started in 2006, under the auspices of Mallappally Institute for Academic Excellence. The programme is held every year in three phases.
The first phase, the day of ‘kavimamankam’, is a festival of writing. Children from schools across the state come and spend the day listening to poets, enjoying artistic performances and writing poems. The second stage is a workshop for select children. Again, they get chance to interact with poets and share their poetry and poetics. The final stage is releasing that year’s book and presenting the awards.
Each year, new school going poets join and a network of people with a flair for poetry grows, gradually and organically. “Often we see the noon and the twilight of writing, but not the dawn. Kavimanrum is an attempt to acknowledge the importance of children’s writing, which is often neglected,” said James Kannimala. “Poetry is creation of the new to make the world a better one. And children can do a lot to this end,” he said. During the last seven years, several poets, including the late D Vinayachandran, Kureeppuzha Sreekumar and V Madhusoodanan Nair have visited and interacted with the children. Director Blessy, former minister G Sudhakaran, IG B Sandhya, film writer Bipin Chandran and film critic Madhu Eravankara have attended the book release function in various years. ‘Kavi Manrum’ has shown its uniqueness in every aspects. The programme was inaugurated by an Asaatti, a village informal pre-school teacher, by lighting a lamp made of plantain trunk and tender coconut. Unlike the usual poetry writing contests, the children are given around 100 topics to choose and write. “We take it as our responsibility to nurture the hidden talents in children. Once their talent is acknowledged, it will help their wholistic growth as responsible humanbeings,” said institute chairman and former principal of Mavelikkara Bishop Moore College, Dr Kurien Thomas.
“This year, the first phase of the programme will be held on November 9. Unlike the previous years, children will be allowed to express themselves on any genre this time. Story writer Rekha K and poet Binu Pallippad will be present on the occasion. The selected participants will be given training in writing, theatre and films. The best poet will be awarded `3,000. A book, as in previous years, will be published with the children’s writings,” the organisers said.