In one of the previous editions of the Bengaluru Poetry Festival (BPF), an audience member was talking about wanting to be a published poet. “That would be ‘cray cray’,” he exclaimed, showing his poetry blog to his friend.
With the fourth edition of BPF about to commence, its co-founder Shinie Antony commented on the demography of the audience who turn out for the city’s only literary festival (in English language) dedicated to poetry. “All age groups flock to the fest, but the surprising crowds are the young,” she said. The founders, who include Subodh and Lakshmi Sankar, are unanimous in saying that be it a veteran lyricist and poet like Javed Akhtar or a young spoken word artiste like Rabia Kapoor, the young and old are there in the audience. “Basically, first edition onwards, the festival has seen people passionate about poetry, irrespective of their age,” Shinie noted.
This year, the line-up includes Arundhati Subramaniam, Ranjit Hoskote and Hoshang Merchant among others. But the celebrity factor which will, no doubts, draw in the crowds, is the rap film Gully Boy’s sensation Siddhant Chaturvedi aka M C Sher. Chaturvedi has been writing poetry on his Instagram page which was a serendipitous discovery for Shinie who had wanted to invite him to rap the hip-hop songs from the film. “This year we had wanted to focus on the genre of rap and the emotions from which the lyrics spring out.” This edition will have a session on rap with local rappers Gubbi, KrAzzY and MC Biju taking the stage. The other tinsel town attraction is actor Andrea Jeremiah who is a published poet.
The second day of BPF will have Sadhguru taking the stage, a session that would have kept the organisers busy in order to facilitate it. “One of the ‘highs’ of organising the BPF is the sheer cheek of it,” Shinie said, “of taking something intangible, fragile and perceived as niche, and then making it visible and mainstream.”
While passion for poetry has been luring the audience, it is love and respect for poetry that make the founders look out for different takes on verse. “The BPF was conceived as an inclusive festival, open to all forms of poetry. We hope to grow in scope as well as content over the years, taking into its ambit newer artistes who bring in newer forms of creativity in this genre.”
There will also be poetry duets, bhasha sessions in Bangla, Malayali, Tamil, Punjabi, Marathi, apart from Hindi, Urdu, English, German and Kannada. In times when the reader’s attention is fragile, poetry becomes relevant. Its importance is best encapsulated by Shinie: “Poetry is the thinnest membrane separating two people. The connect via verse is instant. Feelings are pre-lingual, and poetry the best approximation.”
From Sadhguru to Subramaniam
With about 70 poets, musicians, lyricists, and artistes convening to the city, we bring to attention a few poets who will take the stage. One is Arundhati Subramaniam, an award-winning poet whose book of verse When God is a Traveller (2014) was shortlisted for the T S Elliot Prize. Shinie picks out a sampling of Subramaniam’s verse from the latter’s latest book titled Love Without a Story:
What: Bengaluru Poetry Festival
When: July 21 and 22, 9.45am-9pm, 9.45am-8.30pm
Where: Taj West End