In what is set to be a pioneering event, the Raza Foundation is organising the country’s first poetry biennale at the Triveni Kala Sangam in Delhi, in which 45 poets from 15 Indian languages will participate.
Titled “VAK: The Raza Biennale of Indian Poetry,” the three-day event that starts on April 7 is one of the most ambitious projects of the Raza Foundation, set up by the late illustrious artist SH Raza.
The biennale is being helmed by Hindi poet and former bureaucrat Ashok Vajpeyi, who is also the foundation’s executive trustee.
“We want to bring to the attention of the people of Delhi the magic of poetry, not just in Hindi, English and Urdu but also languages like Kashmiri, Assamese and Manipuri. For this inaugural festival, we are bringing in poets, both well known and those upcoming ones who have been recommended by stalwart poets,” Vajpeyi said.
The festival will see each invited poet getting 15 minutes for reading selected poems, including translations.
The invited poets include K. Satchidanandan (Malayalam), Sharmila Ray (English), Kanji Patel (Gujarati), Kutti Revathi (Tamil) and Ratan Thiyam (Manipuri).
“We would through this poetry feel, see and hear an India which is on the move, which is changing and inventing new imagination, which is accommodative and inclusive, which lives and celebrates plurality,” Vajpeyi said.
Besides readings, there would be three panel discussions with writers and intellectuals on ‘Poetry as Freedom’, ‘Poetry as Memory’ and ‘Poetry as Conscience’.
Keki Daruwala, Sitanshu Yashaschandra, Shiv Visvanathan, Udayan Vajpeyi, Ashis Nandy, Ramin Jahanbegloo, Shamim Hanfi, Ananya Vajpeyi, Krishna Kumar and Apoorvanand are among those participating in the seminars.
The poetry biennale is being entirely funded by Raza’s personal financial resources and no state or corporate assistance has been sought, the organisers said.
Raza, a widely acknowledged master of Modern Indian Art, was deeply interested in other arts especially poetry. Unusually, he inscribed many lines of poetry in his canvases reviving a convention of miniature painting. These lines came from the Vedas, the Upanishads, Sanskrit, Hindi and Urdu Poetry and included Kabir, Tulsidas, Surdas, Ghalib, Mahadevi, Agyeya, Muktibodh, Faiz, among others.
The biennale is conceived as a three edition event. The first one will centre on Indian Poetry, the second in 2019 would be featuring Asian Poetry and the third in 2021 (Raza’s birth centenary year) would be devoted to World poetry.
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