Jun 5 - South Asian Diaspora Poets Festival at Austin USA in Aug 2015

Matwaala, a South Asian Diaspora Poets Festival will be held at Casa De Luz, Austin, Texas on August 2, 2015, Sunday, 9am-8 pm. Co-hosted by the Poetry Caravan and Austin Poets International, the festival is the first project of the collective. The Dialogue Institute’s reception, dinner and reading for the poets is slated for August 1, Saturday 6 p.m. Other events will flag off the poets’ presence in Austin on the morning of August 1st as well.


Matwaala’s first venture is a poetry festival. The guest of honor is the eminent 78 year old Parsi poet Keki Daruwalla of New Delhi and noted poets from the US and possibly Canada will be attending. Keki Daruwalla is considered to be one of India’s leading poets and lives in Delhi. He has over ten volumes of poetry and half that number in short stories. His Collected Poems were published in 2006 by Penguin India. He won the Commonwealth Poetry Prize for Asia in 1987 for his book "Landscapes". His novel "For Pepper and Christ"--a historical novel—was shortlisted for the Commonwealth Prize (Asia and UK) in 2010. His latest books (2014) are Fire Altar: Poems on the Persians and the Greeks" and a short story volume entitled "Islands". Another Novel on the Parsees is slotted for publication this year. Daruwalla was a Queen Elizabeth Fellow at Oxford for a year. He is also a former Indian Police Service officer, who retired as Additional Director in the Research and Analysis Wing  (RAW). He was also special Assistant to the Prime Minister in 1979. He retired as Chairman JIC. Recently he was a Member of the National Commission for Minorities.


Noted US poets attending are Pramila Venkateswaran, poet laurate of Suffolk county, NY; Saleem Peeradina, Michigan and others including local youth and adult poets to be confirmed soon. Festival director Usha Akella’s mission in organizing the collective and festival is to bring visibility to the expanding and prolific Diaspora South Asian Poets in the country. The idea of a sole poetry festival emerged after a recent editorial project she co-edited with Pramila Venkateswaran for www.museindia.com.  The issue focused on a project involving Diaspora artists and poets that generated the idea for sustained collaboration and initiatives. She states: “Matwaala, South Asian Diaspora Poets Collective, is a community of poets whose origins go back to South Asia. Our aim to promote South Asian poetry and collaborate with other arts in North America. The mission of our initiative is to encourage solidarity, promote members’ work, and increase awareness of South Asian poetry in the mainstream American Literary landscape.” A group of poets, Saleem Peeradina, Pramila Venkateswaran, Amritjit Singh and Usha Akella form the core team of Matwaala.


Poetry readings, a youth reading, panels and papers will be featured. The evening ends with a reception and a cultural segment. A detailed program will be available closer to the festival.


On commenting on the collective identity, poet and scholar Dr. Amritjit Singh, defines Matwaala as:  The name Matwaala evokes bonding and bonhomie, fun and funk, creative adventure and freedom, artistic assertiveness and non-conformity. A Hindi/Urdu word, it was the name of a radical literary magazine edited by the poet Nirala from Kolkata a century ago. Matwaala is used for someone who is drunk, but the word is used more often in a transferred sense, for someone who is a free spirit. As poets we are, of course, drunk on language and words.


For more information email poetrycaravanaustin@gmail.com or call 914.686.4487 (Usha Akella)


(Sent by Usha Akella, Austin.  Jun 5, 2015)



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