Chair Poetry Evenings drums in global rhythms in the city with national and international participation

Suroopa Chatterjee

It was poetry that bloomed and took centre stage from 22nd to 24th November, 2019 as Chair Literary Trust hosted its second edition of Chair Poetry Evenings-Kolkata’s International Poetry festival bringing poetry lovers and cultural aficionados into a wonderful communion of recitations, exchanges and interactions.

The festival dedicated solely to poetry saw poets from all across India and foreign destination truly give it a global essence as they recited the poems in their mother tongue giving the audience a sense of universality. The inauguration was held at Rathindra Mancha , Jorasankho on 22nd November,where Jnanpith awardee Padmashri Pratibha Ray, an eminent novelist from Odisha, was the chief guest. In her words, “Poetry is written and understood in supreme silence and poets need this solitude”. A minute’s silence was observed to honour the memory of recently departed acclaimed writer and poet Nabanita Deb Sen. All the poet guests read out their compositions followed by their English versions. The program also saw a book launch of poetry penned by school children. Poetry was quietly laced with music as the festival directors had roped in Sahajiya, Bengali folk group led by Deb Chowdhury and singer song writer Prajna Dutta. Earlier in the morning a poetry workshop was also held.

There were more poetic talks, discussions and exchanges on the second day at Jorasankho in a morning session and Ganges gallery in the evening where a select crowd gathered and interacted and talks centered on poetry. The festival ended on a very reflective and poignant note on an evening cruise over the Ganges where poets once again read out their verses overlooking the picturesque river side scenes of the bridges across Hooghly and the gently setting sun as a backdrop.

It’s truly poetic to end this festival over river Ganges. For three days we have been celebrating poetry and I can feel that I will catch a lot of the wild verses running around the streets of Kolkata exclaimed,  poetess Sara F Costa from Portugal.

“I am excited to read the poems in a way that is so deeply connected with nature; Poetry is a river of languages that travels through us. So it seems only fitting that we sing our verses with the mighty Ganga”, stated eminent poet Brian Turner from USA.

“Personally I loved the chaos of Kolkata and I embrace this beautiful chaos which got me closer to the city”, added poetess, Hajnal Csilla Nagy from Slovakia.

For poetess Bina Sarkar Elias “It was the chair and the poets; it was a river of words”.

“It’s a new feeling as we are coming from land locked places, so we don’t know the glory of water and it’s great to be on the cruise with poems and people listening. It’s a life time unique experience”, expressed Devi Prasad Mishra, Hindi poet.

“It’s a holy river and rivers are symbolic for poets, poetry is magic and river is very sacred, so having the two together is a very appropriate and a good experience” felt  Balazs Szollossy from Hungary.

The other poets included well known names like Elmar Kuiper from Netherlands; Poets from India included established names like, Arundhathi Subramaniam, Ashutosh Dubey, Hemant Divate, Ashwani Kumar, Prabodh Parikh, Katyayani and Abhimanyu Mahato.

Till the city waits another year for the festival to return, on a closing note, Festival Director, Sonnet Mondal stated, “Chair Poetry Evenings is two years old now, yet it seems as if it’s in its teenage years from the response we have received so far. We look forward to introducing poetry in more national and international languages in years to come and turn Kolkata into a pilgrimage of poets from all over the world”.“Poetry has always served as a vital medium of natural discourse and the poems presented during this festival would add to it, said Mr. Tushar Dhawal Singh, poet and festival director, Chair Poetry Evenings.

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