Millennium Post

Kolkata to host 2-day bilingual literary fest

Kolkata to host 2-day bilingual literary fest

Kolkata is going to witness a new literary festival Ethos Literary Journal (ELF), a two-day bilingual literary meet of several talents - established and emerging, scheduled on December 22 and 23. With ELF 2018 just around the corner, Millennium Post probes the tidbits from two gentlemen: one is a widely acclaimed poet, editor and translator, Kiriti Sengupta, and the other is a story-teller of much renown and founder of the esteemed publishing press, Hawakal, Bitan Chakraborty. Read on...

The city has its share of literary fests; why ELF?

Kiriti: India has not seen yet a literary fest being organised by a literary journal in association with an independent press. ELF 2018 has been conceived jointly by Ethos Literary Journal (ELJ) and Hawakal Publishers. Evidently, we have no sponsors. We did not approach one either. We wish to execute plans the way we have envisioned them. Funding is indeed a major factor; however, we won't allow external influences cripple our vision. The ELF has no registration fee, nor do we ask for donation on our website.

The ELF is said to be the first of its kind bilingual literary meet in Calcutta.

Bitan: It's high time we contemplate: West Bengal thrives on Bangla literature. We have equal shares of Bangla and English sessions in the ELF. We really do not enjoy many occasions where young Bengali writers and poets get a chance to air their views on varied aspects of contemporary literature. ELF shares this opportunity with littérateurs writing in the Bangla and English language.

The ELF website records several participants across India and one from Bangladesh. It must be exhausting to the organisers.

Kiriti: We have limited resources. I remember when I first approached the participants I told them categorically that we would not offer travel assistance and accommodation. And see, ELF has speakers coming all the way from Palakkad (Kerala), Mumbai, Delhi, Hyderabad, Lucknow, Shillong, Coimbatore, Bangalore and Bangladesh. I can tell you it is not only passion but their unconditional support to the cause.

ELF has no so-called iconic figures, nor does it showcase stars from the film fraternity.

Bitan: Do we really need celebrated actors or directors from the film fraternity to add value to a fest of much literary merit? I do not think so. This said ELF has a handful of distinguished personalities: Gautam Benegal, Sanjukta Dasgupta, Ravi Shankar N, Bibhas Roy Chowdhury, Abdul Kafi, among others. ELF is predominantly a platform for authors, published by independent presses, especially women authors.

We do need Linda Ashok, Vinita Agrawal, Srividya Sivakumar, Ranu Uniyal, Rimi Dey, Paresh Tiwari, Aditya Shankar, and others who will enlighten us with their discourse. ELF will also discuss poetry from north-east India. We are proud to have Namrata Pathak and Preetinicha Barman as speakers. The participants are extremely talented with their share of critical acclaim and no lesser than the so-called celebrities.

Do you think ELF speakers can bring necessary changes in the current trend of literature?

Bitan: ELF is not only about celebration; it's a movement that upholds the true worth of independent publishing presses and their authors. We have back-to-back sessions commencing from 10 am until 8 pm for two days. Speakers will address various issues pertaining to literature, ranging from regional to global, spreading across the core hallmarks of literature. Small presses are generally represented by their authors. ELF showcases poets and writers who have been published by Pathak, Red River, Yapanchitra, Bombaykala, Saptarshi, Dhauli Books and many more. So, the fest is not all about Hawakal; we believe empathy should exist within authors and publishers as well.

The ELF will talk about author's political standpoints and influences. This sounds interesting indeed.

Kiriti: Right. This session will address consciousness, especially political awareness of artistes. Talented young poets, Avinandan Mukhopadhyay and Aranya Bandyopadhyay, will join established voices like Munshi Md Younus, Arnab Saha, Abdul Kafi and Rimi Dey. I'm sure this session will attract huge audience across West Bengal.

What is the present state of English poetry in Calcutta?

Kiriti: In one sentence: poets writing in English in Calcutta are often ignored. I can say a lot more; I will rather let Mallika Bhaumik, Dr. Amit Shankar Saha and Moinak Dutta discuss about it at the ELF.

Talking about poetry, literary criticism goes a long way.

Bitan: Indeed. Poetry has few readers, and it is believed that one must be initiated into poetry to cherish its appeal. We have a session, dedicated to the art of critiquing poetry, which will be chaired by Devika Basu. Manu S Kurup, and award-winning reviewer Jagari Mukherjee will discuss about the roles of critics in poetry. Undoubtedly, this will be an extremely thoughtful session.

Interviews published in newspapers and magazines allow readers to explore the authors better nowadays. The ELF has provided interviewers the much needed space to exchange thoughts about the whole thing.

Kiriti: You are right. Interviewers add to the brand-value of authors. Interestingly, the ELF session will be chaired by Al Moohshina Muzzammil, who teaches literature in the English department of Zakir Husain Delhi College (Evening), Delhi University. She will be followed by Sufia Khatoon, Anindita Bose, and internationally known interviewer, Jhilam Chattaraj.

Among the young Bengali voices whom should we listen to?

Bitan: You cannot afford to miss a single session at the ELF. Among the promising Bengali voices we have Anirban Basu, Ripan Halder, Arghya Dutta, Sanjoy Saha, Pallab Sarkar, Biswadip Dey, among others who will certainly leave their mark on their topics of discussion.

We hear about book launch sessions at the ELF.

Kiriti: We are delighted to have included a few authors and editors who will launch their books. 'The Best Indian Poetry 2018', edited by Linda Ashok, 'How To Translate An Earthworm', a collection of 101 translated Malayalam poems, edited by Ra Sh, 'The Soup Bowl and Other Poems' by Raja Chakraborty, 'Death In A Holy Month by Sufia Khatoon', 'The Heart Is An Attic' by Srividya Sivakumar and more will be launched and discussed at the ELF.

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