Poetry publishers at the Gurugram bed fest


The city of concrete and glass, generally regarded as the economic capital of North India, got a unique taste of poetry during the first edition of the DLF Gurugram Poetry Festival held on August 20-21, 2022. The two-day event was organized in association with two Delhi-based independent poetry publishers — Hawakal Publishers and Red River. The event was organized by the famous poet and founder of Poetry Couture, Madhu Raghavendra.

Apart from the launch of recent volumes of poetry published by Hawakal and Red River, the event also saw established and young poets from across India attend and read their works. Among the names that graced the occasion were Rakhshanda Jalil, Sukrita Paul Kumar, Nabina Das, Paresh Tiwari, Inder Salim, Abhimanyu Kumar, Amit Ranjan, Rati Agnihotri, Manish Sinha, Uttaran Das Gupta, Maaz Bin Bilal, Amlanjyoti Goswami, Ankush Banerjee, Shamayita Sen, Nabanita Sengupta, Rajorshi Patranabis, Kiran Bhat, Kinshuk Gupta among others.

The festival also featured promising new voices such as Gourob Chakraborty (winner of Sahitya Akademi Yuva Puraskar in Bengali in 2021), Sudipta Maji, Sabari Roy, Rimi Dey, Munshi Md Younus, Prasenjit Dasgupta, Aparna Singh, Sudeshna Chakravorty and others. others.

Raghavendra, himself a popular poet, whose poem, ‘Artist’, written during the pandemic has become a global session, said the idea behind the festival was not just to bring poetry to the forefront of the cultural conversation (which he has been doing for the last 10 years through his organization Poésie Couture), but also to highlight the work of independent publishers.

“Usually, in a literary festival, the emphasis is on fiction and non-fiction, and that too on books published by established publishers. Poetry, especially the poetry of young poets, is generally shunned. With this festival, we not only wanted to highlight the brilliant works done by Indian poets, but also the work done by independent presses in poetry publishing, which is generally considered a loss-making business.

This is why, he says, the festival has decided to collaborate with the two independent publishers.

“The idea was to give independent publishers a platform to showcase their works, which often fail to find a place in the mainstream conversation,” Raghavendra said.

Over the past two years, Hawakal and Red River have given a platform to a range of diverse voices to share their poetry with the world.

Apart from publishing some of the emerging poets in the Indian poetic scene over the past five years, Hawakal also publishes the annual Indian poetry directory, edited by Sukrita Paul Kumar and Vinita Agarwal, which compiles the best poems published in India in the given year. Recently, Hawakal also released the anthology, The well deserved, a poetic response to India’s 75th Independence Day. Both titles were highlighted during the festival.

Meanwhile, Red River, whose titles are known for their unique subject matter and unusual approach to design, has published some of the best young poets writing in India today, whose works have won awards and accolades. Recently, Red River released the massive anthology, Witness: The Book of Red River Dissentedited by Nabina Das, which features 250 poets writing about their ideas of dissent.

Poet and translator Nabina Das, who recently translated 50 Bangladesh Women Poets into English (Get out of the lock), attended the event to present the book. This was followed by a reading for the anthology.

The event also saw the launch of several new Red River titles – Now a poem, now a forest by Paresh Tiwari; The Juggernaut Knot by Amit Ranjan; I would like a little moon by Rati Agnihotri; speaking in tongues by Kiran Bhat and The Great Earth Museum by Manish Sinha.

Raghavendra said that starting next year (the event promises to be an annual fixture in the city’s cultural calendar) he would like to collaborate with more independent publishers, especially those working in niche segments, such as women’s script, dalit script, indigenous script. etc

For Raghavendra, who was recently invited to the International Writing Program at the University of Iowa, poetry translation is another subject he wants to focus on. For this purpose, there was a dedicated session with the eminent translator Rakhshanda Jalil. In a fascinating conversation with Raghavendra, Jalil shared his experiences translating poets such as Shahryar and Gulzar, as well as the intricacies and nuances of translation.

Bitan Chakraborty, Founder of Hawakal Publishers, who attended the event and moderated several sessions, said, “It’s inspiring to have a multilingual poetry festival in Gurgaon. Hawakal is proud to be a partner of this magnificent company. Encouraging new voices takes on a new dimension with the DLF Gurugram Poetry Festival.


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