Backdrop – Turning Into Trees, Spring 2016

WE Backdrop

The WE Poe-TREE Green Hearts Award 2022, connects my journey as WE founder (Autumn 2016) to the creative spring of ’16 and year 2015 that preceded it. In the process of making art in 2015, I had experimented with photographs, turning some of ours green-blue in outrageous colour bursts, our silhouettes resembling parts of a tree, and felt a strange satisfaction in the process, an intense identification with the beloved beings, a response to the call of the earth. There were friends in these creations, and they loved it too. I made very short videos with these titled ‘Turning Into Trees. This happened in a setting where there’s a profusion of trees in the locality we moved into, bringing back enchanted memories of a childhood in the foothills of the Himalayas and a verdant campus growing up in the city.

This outward greening reflected my inner throbbing sense of regeneration, a feeling of being born again, a restoration. 

On Facebook in March 2016, on Youtube in March 2022

Poetic Atmosphere

Poetry flowed in beauteous streams thanks to groups old and new (100 Thousand Poets for Change, Cappuccino Readings) and those were very special moments listening to poets at live gatherings. I loved reliving the evenings with notes and two of them just came up in facebook memories …

Notes of the evening when Kitabkhana turned five

Take ten ounces of weather beaten verse, that had been left out to dry in the sun and the wind over days of unearthly isolation, add a pinch of apple cidar vinegar (or dry wit), soak in rare camaraderie and local spices like cocum, stir well and push into a chilled room lined with books to preserve the essence… 

There, you have the recipe for perfectly done happiness!

Pour in golden goblets and serve chilled. 

Yes, you guessed right – once again i’d trudged towards Kitabkhana, held up for long minutes on the stretch to Wankhede, as ardent cricket fans spilled out all over the place, holding up traffic. I reached late and missed the first reading by H.S. Shivaprakash. However, the scintillating rest unfolded before our eyes and we sat poetry-fied.

Listening to Anand Thakore’s emotionally charged recitation of Shiva’s shlokas in Sanskrit and then in English was a unique experience, filling up to the brim our cups of happiness. 

Hemant Divate’s LPG narratives (liberalisation, privatisation, globalisation) packed a smacking punch and gave us a chance to air our knowledge of Marathi.

Sampurna Chattarji began by reading poems by two of her friends and then read her nine little poems on Strategies of Silence, among others.

Bina Sarkar Ellias first read poems dedicated to Rohith,  Kanhaiya Kumar and students protesting in universities followed by a dedication to a young friend in Pakistan who has translated her work in Urdu, and then some favourites like Kali in Shantiniketan….

Incidentally i’m so happy, because she’s called me a poetry-soldier today! . I do feel like one.. or a poetry pilgrim even.

A brief interval here, when we browsed/ bought books, spoke to authors, got books signed…

The second session started with noted Marathi poet Dinkar Manvar reading poems in Hindi and Marathi. His poems were deeply moving with a range of emotions reaching out to the marginalised, the deprived, in poetic ways. 

Rochelle Potkar read from her book Four Degrees of Separation – the poem about her big happy Goan family with an abundance of aunts, uncles, cousins, relations, notions, ideas, idiosyncracies…she also read an old fav called  Biscooti Love.

Mustansir Dalvi read from his translation of Hemant Divate’s Marathi poems, and then went on to read his own works.

Ignatius read fiery poems in Marathi

Menka Shidasani read striking works from three of her books and also from Safe House. Her poem Waterfall had created a minor ripple at home, she said, when her daughter had seen it on the dining table…

And the sweetest gesture of last evening….

You know that Kitabkhana turned five with a whole host of poetry readings spanning a few weeks, and at the grand finale celebrations last evening, gifted books to all the poets! Now isn’t that wonderful !

Many happy returns of spring to you Kitabkhana, keep us full of books…

All in all, a happy, creative evening, new ideas taking shape.


An evening in Paris!

And to my mind, Paris and Poetry are interchangeable words, proper nouns both, occupying those delicious interstices of the mind where dreams linger.

Iowa-Mumbai-IWP Poets congregated at the book lovers’ haven- Kitabkhana, celebrating its fifth anniversary, yet again in a shower of poetry. Brilliance, memories, dreams and verse lit up an evening where old met new, community became one with the individual and poetry threaded its way into hearts.

Delighted to hear wildlife enthusiast poet Sandra Alcosser’s poems (she is the IWP delegate who conducted the poetry workshop at US Consulate on Monday), alongside those of Arvind Mehrotra (IWP alumnus who read The Cobbler, The Iron Woman), and Adil Jussawala’s remambrances of IWP alumnus poet Dilip Chitre… oh, that such verse could go on forever!

Sampoorna Chatterjee read from her book Space Gulliver.

Ranjit Hoskote, (an IWP alumnus) read his poems about old maps and seas, Anjali Purohit combined strength and humour in her lines, Mustansir Dalvi spoke about lost spaces, lost voices of the marginalised…. 

Birthday girl Menka Shivdasani stole the show with her ‘find her in the mirror and throw her..’ ; after startling all with her ‘boil her softly, stew her, crush her…’ poem.

And of course, this evening is extra special because, after long, two of my favourite poets – Rochelle Potkar and Jennifer Robertson read together. 

Literally a roaring evening, where i exchanged greetings with Tiger Man Bittu Sehgal, and caught up with so many poet friends…. big thank you Vinita…