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Poetry biennale ends with hopes of freedom, peace

Poetry biennale ends with hopes of freedom, peace

After running successfully for a week, Raza Biennale of Asian Poetry, VAK, turned the weekend for national capital into a conquest for finding themselves in the times of post-truth; evoking their deepest thoughts about freedom.

Organised by Raza Foundation at India International Centre, from February 15 to 17, VAK 2019 witnessed 20 international poets (from 18 Asian countries), and six Indian poets, who came together to remind people of the continuing struggle, resistance for truth, tolerance, and nonviolence through hard-hitting poetry and discussions.

While Palestinian poet Najwan Darwish on the first day of the Biennale contested that due to prevailing new forms of colonialism in societies and among some poets, it is becoming difficult to be a poet in these dark ages, Israeli poet Amir Or on the second day said that poetry has always been a threat to power politics and regimes.

"It is not a surprise that poetry, which is an act of creating a new reality for its readers, has always been a threat to any political control because ant regime would rather have its people watch soap opera or go shopping rather than think for themselves," Amir said during a session titled 'Truth of poetry in post-truth times'.

He was of the view that things haven't changed for the poets and their poetry throughout the ages, and that "poets have been either silenced or forced to praise the ruling party".

Darwish, on the other hand, said that when we talk about poetry we should also talk about freedom of having a political voice and saying the truth, as the two should always go hand in hand.

The Biennale had six poetry sessions and three talk sessions featuring some of the most important poetic voices from Asia including Ko Un from South Korea, Mohammad Afsar Rahbeen from Afghanistan, Kutti Revathi from India, Nguyên Hoàng Bao Viêt from Vietnam, and Marine Petrossian from Armenia.

On the first day of the Biennale, Hindi poet and managing trustee of the Raza Foundation Ashok Vajpeyi, along with the Director of India International Centre also released a small booklet titled 'VAK – A collection of Asian Poetry' with prints of the handwritten poetry by each of the poets.

Although each poet had a different story to tell to the audiences, they all revolved around the same theme of struggle, freedom, truth, non-violence, and tolerance.

"My vision is that Asia has too many tongues and many different poetics. For example, while the Japanese poetics seem to be woven around the sense of smell and Arabic poetics around utterance, the Indian poetics is all about taste," Vajpeyi said.

But, all of them together are concerned with freedom, dissent, truth, justice, and plurality, and VAK brings all of them together," he further added.

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