Chair Poetry Evenings-Kolkata’s International Poetry festival recently went online for their third edition.
The festival started on 1st November and continued upto 5th November, 2020 turning evenings into enchanting sessions of poetry and conversations which talked about isolation, dislocation, geographical borders, art of writing poetry, poetic inspirations and the new world brought in by the pandemic. Poets Sarabjeet Garcha, Saima Afreen, Sunil Bhandari and Ashwani Kumar were moderators for each day.
The festival was initiated in 2018 by poets Sonnet Mondal and Tushar Dhawal Singh who are currently directors of the annual event.
Booker Prize winning internationally acclaimed London based Nigerian poet Ben Okri, was the first to come online and charm his way to the audience’s heart with his thoughts, reflections and recitations from his new book.
The first day also had poetry readings from Iranian born US based poet Kaveh Akbar , ,the renowned American Pulitzer prize winning poet, essayist and literary critic Vijay Seshadri who read next from his new book, “That Was Now, This Is Then” among other poems.
It was then followed by Hindi poetry by Ashok Vajpeyi,a Sahitya Akademi award recipient .Among the poems he recited one was penned during the recent lock down India faced from end March this year. English poet, short story writer, winner of Sahitya Akademi Award, Keki N Daruwalla read his poems and also talked about Kolkata as a city of culture and arts.Estonian poet Triin Soomets, recited her poem “Kolkata” in English which she had composed after her moving trip to the city.
Poets Nikola Madzirov from Macedonian , Elisa Biagini from Florence, Italy, Harry Man, British poet and George Szirtes, winner of UNESCO Bridges of Struga Award recited poems across screens on day two.
Day three had regional language poets like 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 poetic flow by poetic recitations from celebrated names like A.J. Thomas, Nabina Das, Priya Sarukkai Chabria and Nilim Kumar giving the listeners the flavors of different lands across the country.
The finale saw a global line up again from across the world like Tsead Bruinja fromAmsterdam, Senior Indian poet Manohar Shetty based from Goa, Christopher Merrill from the U.S., Christina Dav is from the USand lastly Amir Or from Israel. The Poets talked about politics, poetry and its meanings and discussed other reflections of life.
A musical note with songs from Singer Songwriter Prajna Dutta concluded the finale on Day five. The festival directors, Sonnet Mondal and Tushar Dhawal Singh expressed their desire to see the festival back in its original format involving real meets and exchanges the following year.