Poets and enthusiasts of art and literature gathered together in the evening of the World Poetry Day on last Sunday (March 21) at Bibliophilia Café at Panbazar in Guwahati to celebrate the event with poem recitation, poetry book release and deliberations on poetry and its relevance on everyday life at current times.
“Olop Akax, Olop Chondo”, a collection of renowned poet Madhu Raghabendra’s selected poems translated from English to Assamese by Manjit Kumar Sarma was also released on the occasion. The programme was organised under the initiative of Guwahati Grand Poetry Festival.
Actor and performer Arghadeep Barua of Aamis fame, Radio Jockey and media personality Aaliya Baruah, author, motivational speaker, coach and counsellor Tinat Atifa Masood and a host of young and contemporary poets were guests at the event. Artist Neelim Mahanta did the illustrations for the book. He is a street-highway artist, and most of the poems the newly released book come from the streets of life.
Poet Madhu Raghavendra said, “I first met Manjit Kr. Sarma at the first Guwahati Grand Poetry Festival, an enriching poetry initiative that his company had organized in January, 2018 where I read poetry and conducted a performance poetry workshop. Since then we have been friends, fellow curators, literary mates, fellow travellers, and go-to-person for many odd and even things. So, when he first translated and sent me one of my poems 'Artist' that had become an anthem for artists, who were declared non-essential during the pandemic, in over a dozen countries from the UK, to the United States to Greece. I was moved by how effectively he had translated the poem in Assamese. This journey of translations continued one after the other, almost like a young boy who has just learnt to swim and wants to go further into the ocean.”
“The result is this collection of 51 select poems. During the translation we had engaging discussion on where the poems actually came from and where they were headed to. The poems selected for this book are special like us; they have their own history, but please don't ask them for their ID. Unlike us, they are free”, he added. In his speech, Madhu expressed his gratefulness to the Guwahati Grand Poetry Festival for taking up the publication of this poetry collection.
Interacting with the participants in the event, Manjit Kr. Sarma, the translator of “Olop Akax, Olop Chondo” said, “We celebrate poetry every day, throughout the year. However, we do have special events, such as the three-day poetry festival that we organise every year. Many people in North East India love to write poems or translate, but haven’t found a platform to express and showcase their skills. So, we also keep organising several programmes and contests to keep their spirits alive.”
They also have a multi-lingual quarterly e-magazine Soul Connection where submissions are invited from interested writers and poets. Following demands of contribution, they have now come up with a paperback book. “To celebrate World Poetry Day we’ve invited Madhu Raghuvendra because he has a great style of narration and his works reflect the socio-economy, cultural scenario of North East India. We want his writings to be read by a wider mass. There’re also a few other participating poets – each one talented in their own unique ways”, said Sarma.
An enthusiastic poet Shaheen said, “In Madhu Sir's words from 'STICK NO BILLS', I write about little things so that every time I sit by the fire in some unknown village to share food, and the children ask me to read poems, I don't want to tell them they will not be able to understand what I write.”
The event saw soulful poem reading/recitation by Simanta Goswami, Tinat Atifa Massod, Suman Sarma, Snehal Deb, Zerine Wahid, Shaheen Akhtar, and many others. A music band, Injoy the Duo, delighted the listeners and enthusiasts with their music and storytelling at the unique event.