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Rhyme and reason: Poets turn change-makers at this Mumbai event

100 Thousand Poets for Change is a worldwide movement that brings together poets and performers to highlight issues that affect people globally. This year, the Mumbai chapter will feature events that focus on mental health and women’s empowerment.

art and culture Updated: Oct 04, 2018 08:56 IST
Soma Das
Soma Das
Hindustan Times
100 Thousand Poets for Change,Poetry,Art
Poet Smita Sahay’s performance event Calm Space revolves around the theme of mental health. (Photo courtesy: Shashikant Patil )

Poetry is powerful — it can make you think, and change the way you view the world. And if poets around the world can be united to speak on pertinent issues, it can have a significant impact and inspire people to fight for change. That was the basic premise on which American poets Michael Rothenberg and Terri Carrion co-founded the global movement, 100 Thousand Poets for Change (100TPC), in 2011.

As part of the movement, there are poetry readings and performances held simultaneously worldwide. The first edition saw 700 poetry events take place on a single day globally. Since then, it has grown organically and now encompasses year-around activities that include music, mime, photography and theatre.

Some of the topics that often feature in 100TPC include war, violation of human rights, racism, genocide, gender inequality, lack of affordable medical care, police brutality, religious persecution, censorship, and animal cruelty.

“The idea was that poets would organise events in their own cities, and look at issues of peace and sustainability through a local lens. These events could include two people reading poetry to each other by candlelight, or flash mobs to highlight an issue. Poets could choose how they wanted to interpret it,” says Menka Shivdasani, poet and curator, 100TPC Mumbai.

The Mumbai chapter has been active for seven years now, and the event is hosted at the popular bookstore Kitab Khana in Fort. Women’s empowerment has also been a long-lasting theme, with 100TPC Mumbai tying up with organisations like Sound and Picture Archives for Research on Women (SPARROW), Laadli (an organisation that works for the girl child), and WE (Women Empowered) in previous editions.

A mime performance at the 2015 edition of 100 Thousand Poets for Change Mumbai. ( Photo courtesy: Shashikant Patil )

“We are not trying not to be dogmatic,” emphasises Shivdasani, adding, “We hope that together, we can develop ideas of ‘change/transformation’.”

The line-up for the eighth edition features poet Smita Sahay’s Calm Space — a series of performances that highlight the theme of mental health (October 4, 5.30pm to 7.15pm), and folk singer and cancer survivor Vibha Rani’s songs of women’s empowerment (October 5, 5.30pm to 7.15pm).

On Sunday morning, children will present poems on compassion at a session conducted by Rati Dady Wadia, former Principal of Queen Mary School, with children’s author Katie Bagli (October 7, 10.30 am onwards). Singer Delna Mody (of The Sound of Music, Threepenny Opera, Rio 2 and Disney’s Beauty and The Beast fame) will also be performing on Sunday.

Once the event is over, city coordinators have an additional task of compiling event pages with photos and videos on the 100TPC blog, and the information is subsequently archived by Stanford University in California.

100 Thousand Poets for Change will take place on October 4, 5 and 7, at Kitab Khana, Somaiya Bhavan, 47, Mahatma Gandhi Road, Fort.

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First Published: Oct 04, 2018 08:54 IST