Unmapping our times and society with literature

  • Badri Chatterjee, Hindustan Times, Mumbai
  • Updated: Feb 02, 2016 17:16 IST
Children at the Enid Blyton picnic at Kitab Khana last year. (HT file photo)

 Literature, in the form of stories, poems, essays and drama, is like a witness account of life’s episodes. Authors and poets like Shanta Gokhale, Mahesh Rao and Jerry Pinto will share such stories with booklovers as they take the stage at the Hindustan Times Kala Ghoda Arts Festival (KGAF).

This year’s theme, Unmapped, will emphasise debate, reflecting on a key issue of our times and its links with literary practice. A total of 54 panels and over 150 speakers will examine diverse writing practices, including forms such as the novel, non-fiction and poetry, and even writing on music, visual arts, architecture, theatre, cinema, and philosophy.

Read more: Kala Ghoda fest to be twice as nice

Walk through a wonderland at Kala Ghoda

All the facets under the literature section this year has been worked out so as to be representative of a whole spectrum of writing practices in India, from the classical to the experimental,” says section curator Ranjit Hoskote. “Our theme ranges across from those who are wrestling with aesthetic problems to others engaged with the public urgency.”

Literature in Urdu, English, Hindi, Marathi, Gujarati and Bengali will also be explored.

“One of my favourite elements of the literature section of KGAF is the exposure that poetry gets,” says Jennifer Robertson, who will be reciting her poetry at the festival and moderating a discussion titled The Rise of Micro-Fiction: Terribly Tiny Tales. “Emerging poets and varied voices from across the country have a platform here and that makes for an exciting line-up. The variety of panels sharing diverse views promises to be very interesting too.”

Arundhathi Subramaniam, for instance, will be moderating a discussion with fellow poets Jerry Pinto, Gopika Jadeja and Mustansir Dalvi, about their work on the political and cultural contexts of translation. “I think one of the reasons that Kala Ghoda as a city festival matters and has grown over the years in credibility is the diversity of points of view and voices accommodated year after year, and you can see this in the poetry readings amidst a much larger collective,” she says.

Read more: Kala Ghoda: Breaking barriers with music and dance

The dialogue between authors and audience is also a highlight for writer, translator and theatre critic Shanta Gokhale, who will speak on two panels — When Words Imitate Art and The Scenes We Made. “I’m looking forward to actually sharing with people the problems I have when it comes to writing about art,” she says.

For the little ones, meanwhile, this year’s children’s literature section will showcase the works of bestselling authors and illustrators such as Anushka Ravishankar, Sudha Murthy and Priya Kuriyan.

“Children’s books are not only about expression through language but also through art,” says section curator Lubaina Bandukwala. “We have three beautiful workshops from international filmmakers and storytellers this time, dedicated to this form of literature.”

Along with workshops, competitions and games, children and adults will get a chance to interact with award-winning artists such as Canadian filmmaker and animator Torill Kove, who won the Oscar in 2007 for best animated short film, and will conduct a workshop on animation for children. Award-winning collage artist Hanoch Pivin and British storyteller Emily Henessey will conduct art and collage workshops for children, illustrators and artists, and this year’s schedule also features a storytelling heritage walk has been organised for children to get a feel of 19th-century Mumbai.

“I’m looking forward to the heritage walk planned for kids,” said Jyoti Sahni of Cuffe Parade, an economics professor, mother of one and a regular at KGAF. “Our children are too used to fishing for information online and this will be a good opportunity for them to travel back in time while actually walking through Mumbai’s streets.”


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