I read a lovely quotation by Faith Sullivan long back that has stayed with me over the years:
“Sometimes the best things in life are unexpected”. And this is so true!
It was on the morning of 06 November, 2020 that my dear friend and a great multilingual poet Dr. Kumud Bala from Hyderabad, India (the city I reside in too), called me over phone and shared the details of Kavya Kaumudi (Sanskrit words meaning a radiant gleam of poems), a multilingual poets’ group that she had conceived of and started on Whatsapp on 05 November, 2020. She is also the Founder President of Kavya Kaumudi. She also sounded eager to soon have a Multilingual Poets Meet and requested me to bring in a few international and national poets. We got talking to poets over phone and Whatsapp, and lo and behold, soon we had over 75 poets from India and overseas, who joined the Kavya Kaumudi group on 06 and 07 November, 2020. And on 08 November, 2020, we were able to organize a Zoom meeting in 2 sessions of multilingual poetry reading comprising 52 poets!
I believe that it is a mini record of sorts that an event was conceived in so short a time of two days and executed successfully too!
It seemed like some Divine Intervention that poets across India and across the globe, quickly agreed to join us and be a part of Kavya Kaumudi’s maiden Multilingual Poets’ Meet on Sunday, 08 November, 2020 that saw the participation of 52 poets from Bangladesh, Malaysia, Mauritius, Sri Lanka, Switzerland and India, representing 23 languages viz. Bahasa Melayu, Bangladeshi Bangla, Bengali, Bhojpuri, Braj Bhasha, Dakhini, English, French, Gujarati, Hindi, Kannada, Kashmiri, Marathi, Maithili, Mauritian Creole, Odia, Sanskrit, Santali, Sinhala, Sri Lankan Tamizh, Tamizh, and Urdu.
Considering the number of poets – 52, the Meet was divided into two sessions.
The first session began with a divine prayer song invoking universal friendship mellifluously rendered by Sri Lankan Tamizh poet Gayathree Srikandavel. The first session was then formally inaugurated by the Chief Guest Ms. Joba Murumu, a Sahitya Akademi awardee for her contributions to Santali language and the recipient of several other top awards and honours. Dr. Raja Rajeswari Seetha Raman a renowned and much-decorated by the Malaysian Government bilingual poet, translator, critic, researcher and professor from Malaysia, Ms. Shafinur Shafin, a much-awarded leading bilingual poet, translator, poetry magazine editor and college lecturer from Bangladesh and Ms. Pushmaotee Subrun, a well-known multiple award-winning bilingual poet, translator, novelist, short-story writer, playwright and teacher from Mauritius, were the Guests of Honour for the first session that saw the participation of 25 multilingual poets. The Chief Guest and the Guests of Honour of the first session, after their brief speech, read a poem each in their respective native language. This was followed by poets representing various languages, presenting their poems.
The second session that had the participation of 27 multilingual poets, began with a prayer song invoking universal friendship superbly rendered by Telugu poet Udaya Sree. The second session was then formally inaugurated by the Chief Guest Mr. Pitamber Hansdah, a Sahitya Akademi awardee for his contributions to the Santali language and many other top awards and honours, and also the Founder Member of the All India Santali Writers Association Jhargram (WB), Prof. Dr. Anura Manatunga, a leading bilingual poet, a Senior Professor in Archaeology and the Director of the Centre for Heritage Studies, University of Kelaniya, Sri Lanka, and Mr. Ali Shaida, a well-known poet, writer and a magazine editor writing in three languages from Kashmir who is also the Vice Chairman (South) of Jammu & Kashmir Cultural Confederation, were the Guest of Honour. The Chief Guest and the Guests of Honour of the second session after their brief speech, read a poem each in their respective native language. This was followed by poets representing various languages, presenting their poems.
Padmaja Iyengar-Paddy, Advisor, Kavya Kaumudi, handled in English the inaugural part of both the sessions, while Dr. Kumud Bala, Founder & President, Kavya Kaumudi, anchored the remaining part of both the sessions in Hindi. Ms. Elizabeth Kurian ‘Mona’, a leading Urdu and English poet, proposed a Vote of Thanks at the conclusion of each session.
For all the participants and viewers who connected on ZOOM, to hear poetry in a cross section of Indian and world languages with each poet explaining in English or Hindi the gist of the poem before commencing the poetry reading, was truly a novel, an engaging, interesting and a great learning experience.
In these times of pandemic, such a Multilingual Poets’ Meet organized by Kavya Kaumudi, that had international participation, truly served as a wonderful promoter of multiculturalism and a great opportunity for poets across the globe to connect with each other, and to understand and appreciate each other’s poetry.
Dr. Kumud Bala informs that Kavya Kaumudi plans to organize Multilingual Poets’ Meet every two months and if possible, monthly too, as she believes that such poetic interactions are imperative for fostering opportunities for translations as well, so that poetry in various languages comes within the reach and understanding of all.
It is said that when intentions are honest, clean, honourable and sincere, the whole world unites to make one succeed…Likewise, poets from India and overseas spontaneously connected within 2 days to join Kavya Kaumudi’s maiden Multilingual Poets’ Meet on 08 November, 2020 in two sessions with their multilingual poetry reading, thus ensuring that this on-line event on Zoom, was a huge success! Our deepest gratitude to all the poets!