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One lakh poets unite for peace

World’s largest poetry reading event starts Mumbai chapter, writers present work to promote social change.

art and culture Updated: Sep 23, 2011 15:40 IST
Shweta Mehta

This Saturday, a number of poets in the city will come together as part of an international peace movement. The initiative, titled 100 Thousand Poets for Change, is being held simultaneously across 400 cities in 95 countries. Over 500 individual events are slated as an effort towards peace and environmental, social and political change.



The event, a brainchild of California based poet and environmental activist, Michael Rothenberg, will have a Mumbai chapter spearheaded by poets Menka Shivdasani and Anju Makhija.



Says Shivdasani, “We want to include as many people as possible, so there will be an Open Mic night and some performances. We’ve also planned a workshop for Adivasi children today, followed by a multilingual poetry reading session on tomorrow.”



The workshop will be held at a school at a village close to Panvel where the tribal children will be taught to understand and sing poems in Marathi.



Shivdasani and Makhija have been organising cultural events regularly now, under an initiative called Culture Beat. “We have poetry readings, music performances and other activities every month at Mumbai Press Club,” says Shivdasani, adding, “When Michael asked us to be part of his initiative, we decided to do it under Culture Beat.”



The duo also managed to rope in a bevy of Gujarati, Marathi, Hindi and English poets to read their work at the event. Sitar player Madhu Sudan Kumar has also confirmed that he will perform at the event.



100 Thousand Poets for Change has been started with the hope of becoming into an international event. After Saturday, all the documentation of the event on its official website will be preserved by California’s Stanford University, which has recognised it as a historical event — the largest poetry reading in history.