Wednesday, 22 May 2013
|United Colors of Babel with Alain Mabanckou and Rita Malohtra|
|Wednesday, 09 April 2008|
Under a sky that threatened to open up and drench all, members of the Indo-French Alumni Network (IFAN) and others gathered for a session of poetry and music at the French Information Resource Centre on 20 March. “Le Printemps des poètes” is an annual exercise to celebrate the poetry initiated by the French Cultural Ministry and observed abroad by the French Ministry of the External Affairs. This year, the 10th consecutive year of the celebration, had the following themes : Praising the other, Crossroad, Cross-cultural perspective and Métissage.
Held in honour of visiting francophone poet Alain Mabanckou, the evening saw recitals of poems in French and English by members of IFAN and lovers of poetry.Alain Mabanckou led the pack with his evocative poetry about his homeland (Republic of Congo) that was marked with memorable imagery from back home, like the one that described the Congo river as his country’s spine. An affable and approachable poet, he was an ideal choice for the evening that was celebrating diversity as he represents a mix of three cultures: Congo, his homeland, France, where he lived for long and studied, and the US, where he presently teaches comparative literature. His poetry was simultaneously translated into English by Rita Malhotra, an !FAN member. And as the poems were being read out, Glenn Lovet and Piyush Wadhera joined the two with their improvised music on an array of instruments.
The reading session of Alain Mabanckou with Rita Malhotra was followed, quite appropriately, by a métissage music recital by Srishti, a fusion and experimental group comprising Clio Karabelias (harp), Hindol Ded (percussions) & Suchet Malhotra (sitar).
It was then the turn of IFAN members along with Siba Ahjua, who’s a trainee at Alliance Francaise, to read out their poems. The mix was eclectic: someone chose to read a funny poem on Tintin, someone an erotic one, another presented a quatrain by Emily Dickinson, while another read out Tagore.
I was initially hesitant. The last time I had recited a poem in public was while at school. It was Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner”. But I am glad I took the plunge. Participating in the evening’s proceedings gave me the chance to discover and recite Eugène Guillevic’s abstract poetry themed on various shapes. Discovering a poet/writer you admire is like discovering a new friend and I look forward to my relationship with Guillevic. I think such events serve as a great way to discover unknown literatures and unfamiliar faces. Moreover, the evening served as an interesting way to get to meet various people who had studied in France and discover the greater Francophile community in India. And I look forward to next year’s poetry reading session!
Debarshi Dasgupta Correspondent of Outloook Magazine and !FAN member