What was conceived sitting in a room in Mumbai overlooking the Arabian sea in 2017 finally culminated in a wonderful creative confluence near the Bay of Bengal as Kolkata was witness to a platter of poetic reading sessions of acclaimed poets in The International Poetry Festival –Chair Poetry Evenings organised by the Chair Literary Trust which opened on 23rd at Rotary Sadan.
Poet Shankha Ghosh and actor Victor Banerjee were present at the inaugural session. Speaking to the gathering, the actor applauded the efforts of Directors , Chair Literary Trust, Tushar Dhawal Singh and Sonnet Mondal .He stated they need to be seriously lauded for organising something like this in these days and age of of ramps and stage shows .Addressing the visiting poets the actor welcomed them to Calcutta-a city which he said “ will always give you the applause you need and deserve . Kolkata bleeds for art and poetry and Bengal breathes poetry and culture.
The international festival curated by the trust looks to start off the tradition of holding such a convergence of poets each year in an effort to share human reflections, conditions, thoughts and struggles through the medium of poetry by inviting each year poets from different corners of the globe. This year there were national and international participants as poets from Ireland, Macedonia, Belgium, Netherlands, Australia, Slovenia, France and India have come together to engage over readings and discussions.
The festival has been creatively spread over different locales and moods by the Trust members with reading sessions and talks by the visiting poets at the Calcutta Heritage Bungalow and Sasha studio on 24th November. The festival finale will be Poetry on Cruise, the first of its kind ever to be included in a Lit fest, as reading sessions over the Ganges by the Vivada Waterways has been organised as a poetic sign off to mark the end of this festival on 25th November.
The Chair Literary trust has also declared a ‘Poet in residence program’ to be hosted in Kolkata from December to January. Two to three selected poets from across the globe would be offered a stay for a month in the city with a scholarship to cover up their expenses in the city. The poets would be working on their latest manuscript and will be offered an opportunity to present public readings in the city.
All the 14 attending poets recited their own compositions choosing to do so in their native tongue followed by English recitations of their poems. The poets in attendance were Vladimir Martinovski (Macedonia), Miriam Van hee (Belgium), Les Wicks (Australia), Barbara Pogacnik (Slovenia), Alfred Schaffer (Netherlands), Yekta (France), Rajesh Joshi (India), Arun Kamal (India), Mangalesh Dabral (India), K. Satchidanandan (India), Nitoo Das (India), Subodh Sarkar (India) and Binayak Bandyopadhyay (India). John W Sexton (Ireland) could not attend but his poetry was read.
Well known poet Subodh Sarkar congratulated Chair Poetry Literary trust for this great initiative and said that unlike other festivals this was unique in itself as the poet organisers themselves chose to stay away from their own personal readings and leave it open for the others to be on stage.
A two minute silence was observed in honour and in the memory of recently departed celebrated poets like Vishnu Khare, Fahmida Riaz and Meena Alexander.
“It is indeed elation for us to have congregated here to see the birth of an idea take shape. The festival aims at building consciousness through poetry. Art and Poetry are the expressions of human consciousness. We endeavour to bring together the civil society in an interaction with thoughts, ideas, and questions related to human existence,” stated festival director Tushar Dhawal Singh said. “The session would be interactive, where the audience can interact with the poets,” he added.
“As the planet becomes progressively anxious with socio-political, radical, cultural, ethno national skirmishes, we consider the role of Poetry as a restorative and a potent mean of diffusing values and experiences – all the more pertinent”, added festival co-director Sonnet Mondal.