News Correspondent, abptakmaa, Kolkata, 7th Nov 2020 : Chair Poetry Evenings- Kolkata’s International Poetry festival went online this year as it celebrated its third edition from 1st to 5th November2020.
The festival opened across screens on 1st November taking listeners, ardent poetry and cultural lovers on an impressive and captivating journey with some of the most impressive poetic verses from around the globe.
The festival was initiated in 2018 by poets Sonnet Mondal and Tushar Dhawal Singh who are currently directors of the annual event.
The first day opened to a captivating and immensely drawing session with celebrated Nigerian born London based poet Ben Okri who cast a mesmeric spell on the viewers with his gentle, yet profound insights. He recited excerpts from his new collection, “A fire in my head” – a collection of political and intimate tender love poems. “Poetry for me is the route of everything. Whenever I have difficulty with writing, I just have to lean towards my poetic side and things work out.”Emphasizing on the importance of poetry and creative mind he stated, “People know what dreaming is when times are difficult”. I suggest when times are hard we need to keep dreaming.
Next to grace the screens were Iranian born US based poet Kaveh Akbar who read some very moving poems with unusual pauses.Following himwas Vijay Seshadri ,the renowned American Pulitzer prize winning poet, essayist and literary critic who read from his new book,” That Was Now, This Is Then” among other poems. Ashok Vajpeyi, Indian poet and a celebrated name in the Hindi poetry world, also recipient of Sahitya Akademi Award, recited from his latest poem which he penned during the recent lock down India faced from 29th March.
Keki N Daruwalla, English poet, short story writer, winner of Sahitya Akademi Award, followed with a session of his compositions that were about death, migration and climate. Estonian poet Triin Soomets, recited her poem “Kolkata” in English which she had composed after her moving trip to the city.
Day two saw poets Nikola Madzirov ,Macedonian poet, Elisa Biagini from Florence, Italy, Harry Man, British poet and George Szirtes, winner of UNESCO Bridges of Struga Award take centre stage . The poets recited poems that talked of uncertainties, dislocation about borders, connection and translation of poetry.
Day three had an interesting mix of regional language poets like well known poet Ajmer Rode who recited in Punjabi and English, Neelesh Raghuwanshi who recited in Hindi , Ganesh Visputay who read in his native Marathi and city poets Bibhas Roy Chowdhury and Prabal Kumar Basu who read their compositions in Bengali and English.
Day four continued the enchanting flow by poetic recitations from celebrated names like A.J. Thomas, Nabina Das, Priya Sarukkai Chabria and Nilim Kumar giving the listeners the flavours of different lands across the country.
The last day once again had a global lineup from across the world like Tsead Bruinja fromAmsterdam, Senior Indian poet Manohar Shetty from Goa,Christopher Merrill from the U.S., Christina Davis from the USand lastly Amir Or from Israel. The Poets talked about politics, poetry and its meanings and discussed other reflections of life.
Poets Sarabjeet Garcha, Saima Afreen, Sunil Bhandari,Ashwani Kumar were session moderators who kept the readings more engaging as they were in conversations with each poet.
The festival concluded on a musical note and the festival directors expressed their wish to see the festival back in its original format of real meets and exchanges the following year.