While the world is slowly climbing out of the ravages of the pandemic, a fresh breeze of hope and creativity continue to splash across myriad mediums. Poetry has continued to give voice to the pained, anguished, the bereaved and to those simply needing a voice like never before. Chair Literary Trust in its continued endeavor to organize global poetic voices once again put together its late autumnal annual signature show, Chair Poetry Evenings-Kolkata’s International Poetry Festival with an enchanting entourage of twenty poets to celebrate poetry. The festival which is now in its fourth year has gone online and partly offline from 21st to 24th November, 2021.
Leading literary figures from UK, US, Sudan, Lithuania, Brazil, France and across India had lent their verses across four evenings and regale poetry lovers in a continuous stream.
“In today’s conflict-ridden, pandemic stricken rugged times, poetry as the frontier of human conscience strives to keep the humane concerns alive. Poetry, in a sense, is an anti-thesis to terror and destruction.
The poets participating this year are very highly acclaimed and are here to offer us insights into the human conditions of existence, aspirations and forebodings. With an urge to make the world a better place to live in, we hope, we shall be able to touch the softer parts of human consciousness”, stated Tushar Dhawal Singh, Poet and Festival Director, Chair Poetry Evenings on the opening day.
The festival started off on a very eloquent note with five consummate poets and storytellers narrating their thoughts through verses. Award winning poet Ruth Padel who joined from London, charmed the listeners with her masterful narration of poems from her book Emerald. She poignantly touched upon the fact that poetry tries to touch and seek something of value and gives a voice to the unheard. Following her were three evocative poetry films presented by 2019 Pulitzer Prize winner in Poetry Forrest Gander. Next to come onscreen was bilingual poet from Manipur Robin Singh Ngangom who narrated some fine poetry on the theme of being a middle class man, boyhood and marriages and funerals. French and Occitan poet Aurélia Lassaque read poems in French and Occitan which is a less spoken language especially concentrated around Southern France, parts of Spain, and Italy. The day ended with poetry reading by US poet radio host editor, Lois P Jones who shared a few poems inspired by the life of Spanish poet Frederico Garcia Lorca.
Second day saw a mix of English and native language poetry with poet-writer-photographer Octavio Quintanilla from St Antonio, Texas reciting his verses in English and Spanish. Pondicherry based poet Gayatri Majumdar read poems on pandemic and nostalgia. US based Lithuanian poet Rimas Uzgiris recited verses which touched on the theme of immigrants. From Austria , Egyptian Sudanese writer-poet Tarek Eltayeb presented his powerful poetry in his native Arabic. SJ Fowler from London joined and shared some of his experimental poetry.
On day three the mood had shifted to regional language recitations with Patna born bureaucrat poet Muzaffar Abdali sharing some touching ghazals and nazms. Following him four poems in Hindi was read by Bhojpur born Badrinarayan. Baby Shaw a promising young poet from Jhargram recited her beautiful poems in her native Bangla. Sahitya Akademi awardee Anamika presented her moving poetry. Swami Antar Nirav was the last poet of the day with his captivating Punjabi poetry.
The final day had a mixture of regional and global voices with Poona born Oxfordshire resident freelance journalist, writer, and poet Farrukh Dhondy reading some of his translated verses of Rumi and a few of his own, calling himself less a poet and more a versifier.Following him contemporary poet Aditi Basu Roy read of her English translated works from Bengali. Next , Rajasthan born Hindi poet Prabhat shared a few of his sensitive compositions setting the mood for the evening. Poet, essayist and columnist Chaitali Chattopadhyay read some of her poems to end on a gripping poetry film shared specially for the festival by Marcio-Andre de Sousa Haz, poet, a multimedia artist from Rio de Janeiro.
“We’ve been on a never-ending effort to raise literary awareness among the masses through poetry. Our audience has witnessed the sound of poetry in several languages since the beginning. This year’s festival takes us a step further in understanding the beauty of language poetry, with English language poets from the United Kingdom, the United States, and India, as well as Urdu, Hindi, Bengali, Occitan, Sudanese, Egyptian, and Spanish poets presenting their muse through their languages. In 2022, we’ll host more events with more such poets, allowing us to take a dip into the enticing ocean of poetry”, stated Sonnet Mondal, Poet and Festival Director, Chair Poetry Evenings.