Bengaluru Poetry Festival 2016
When the monsoons decided to give Bengaluru a short break, poets from across the country descended down on the city with their verses. Although Bengaluru witnesses a lot of poetry events across the city every week, an event of this magnitude is certainly the first of its kind. From veterans to amateurs, from children to sexagenarians, from bhakti to erotic, from Hindi and Tamil, the Leela Palace of Bengaluru on the 6th and 7th of August witnessed the conglomeration of poets and poetry of various kinds. As envisioned by its organisers from Atta Galatta, the inaugural edition of the Bangalore Poetry Festival was indeed “a celebration of everything that is poetry”.
There was an interesting line up of poets who were invited to be guests at the event. The event was star studded with the presence of celebrity poets and lyricists like Javed Akhtar, Piyush Mishra, Rajsekhar and Kamalini Mukherjee. There were also musicians like Vikram Sampath, Vasundhara Das, Anand Thakore speaking poetry. There were poets who are also academicians like Savita Bhargava, Sudhir Ranjan Singh, folk-poets like Vibha Rani, poets from the north-east Bina Sarkar-Ellias, Nabina Das, Nitoo Das and Robin Ngangom, revolutionary poets like Kutti Revathy, Dr. Neal Hall, K. Satchidanandan, mystic poets like Arundhati Subramaniam and many more. One of the pleasant surprises of the event was the unveiling of the other side of parliamentarian Varun Gandhi. The most endearing part of the event was a house-full audience cheering with utmost joy for Padmabhusan Teejan Bai who was performing a powerful Pandavani despite being visibly ill.
While it was a bliss listening to these poets recite their own poems, the event also set stage for a lot of young and old poets and poetry enthusiasts from the city to recite their own poems. The event provided a free yet enriching platform for literary enthusiasts to discuss, learn, share and revel in the magic of written and spoken words. There were also paid workshops for children and adults on poetry, new book releases and book signing events with published poets. A book titled Po’ try – Bengaluru Poetry Festival 2016 Anthology a collection of poetry, featuring poems of 159 unpublished poets in English and Hindi selected through a contest, was released.
One of the highlights of the event was its diversity and inclusivity. To have representations from different languages and different geographies is quite an achievement. But that also made the schedule way too packed that one had to choose between a lunch break and an exciting poetic discourse. I must also credit all the sponsors of this event for their generosity to have enabled the organizers to conduct an event of this grandiose with an absolute free entry to all the audience.
My only criticism about the festival is that the RainDrops Company, the publisher of Po’ try – Bengaluru Poetry Festival 2016 Anthology (and also one of the event-sponsors) could not deliver them a copy of the book despite having collected the charge of five copies from each poet well in advance. It was saddening to see the excited faces of the newly published poets drop in disappointment when the publisher.
Having said that it was undeniably two splendid days of poetic ecstasy and I can’t wait for the next edition. I hope the organisers will come back with an equally wonderful line up next time too. Three Cheers to Bengaluru Poetry Festival 2016, its organisers and volunteers.
All Images Courtesy: Abhishek Kumar Jha