23 Jan 2016: Wintering with Caesurae in Kolkata

The Caesurae Collective and the peer reviewed international e journal CAESURAE: POETICS OF CULTURAL TRANSLATION, (www.caesurae.org), has been holding events on literature and other arts, in collaboration with the Bharatiya Bhasha Parishad, at their auditorium in Kolkata, this winter.

On the 21st of December, 2015 it organized an evening of readings by eminent writers the impulse for which stemmed from a proposed celebration of the written word, the power of imagination to bind and suture the ruptures and gaps in reality.

Anjum Katyal read from a series of fragmentary sketches that she chose to label “About Love” – fragments that captured the intimate and the political in moving ways. The public and momentary impulse mingled with the more enduring private histories in the lives she represented.

Saikat Majumdar delved into his authorial smithy and presented a portion of the first, as yet unedited, draft of his forthcoming work of fiction that he has tentatively titled Beloved. Still in the wake of his latest novel, The Firebird, that has made ripples across the world, Majumdar boldly offered to read nascent stuff for his audience that evening.

Bashabi Fraser, a pioneering voice in the forging of Indo-Scottish cultural ties in the last two decades, read her poetry that challenged the formation of borders and the devices and desires of a few that estrange millions. She rounded off her reading with a rousing Holi poem from her collection Tartan and Turban. Words danced the Bhangra and the Kathak, as Radha-Krishna (once more) quickened the pulse of the audience on a grey early-winter evening.

Sanjukta Dasgupta read from her body of poetry that extended the geo-political span of the evening to include other hotbeds of inhumanity like Iraq, Afghanistan and of course India. But, it also deepened the need for words to take on not merely a representative role but a role that brings about change.

Jayita Sengupta served the audience a slab of her densely crafted, impressionistic prose as it tried to negotiate the worlds of reality and imagination played out in a setting that was strongly akin to India’s North-East.

Rajat Chaudhuri, author of Hotel Calcutta, also read from an ongoing writing project, a dystopian novel about Kolkata.

Debasish Lahiri celebrated his being in the life of two cities in his own poetry: Kolkata, where he has always been, and Paris that has staked a claim to him with its love and understanding.

Of course, all these free-wheeling and warm hearted readings and exchanges with the audience would not have been possible without the acute economy and profound suggestiveness of Julie Mehta’s anchoring. Her humour and sensitivity sparkled through the evening.

On the 2nd and 3rd of January, 2016, it organized a two day Indian Classical violin workshop with the much acclaimed violinist Indradeep Ghosh. Dr Ramkumar Mukhopadhyay, the President of Bharatiya Bhasha Parishad and Vice-President of the Caesurae Collective and Dr Kusum Khemani, the Vice-President of Bharatiya Bhasha Parishad, inaugurated the event.

This was a violin workshop for fairly advanced students. Young participants from the suburbs, Sikkim and North Bengal, and a young violinist from Paris who is now in Kolkata joined this intensive workshop.

On the first day Indradeep made the young participants perform basic exercises meant for advanced learners. This included complex paltas and exercises on gamaks and meers. On the second day, Indradeep offered students lessons on raga presentations, which included the composition of alaap, bistaar, taans and jhala. Gopal Das accompanied him on the tabla in the second session.

Anjan Chattopadhyay, one of the senior most Sitarists associated with the Caesurae Collective, gave away the certificates of participation to the students.

The Caesurae Collective hopes that its ventures shall continue through the year and throughout the country.

Report by: Debasish Lahiri, Jan 11, 2016, debasish.lahiri@gmail.com

(Delay in publication of this item due to a technical hitch is regretted… Ed.)

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