Thiruvananthapuram: Observing that there is a sinister attempt to suppress and punish the voices of dissent in the country, famous Hindi poet Ashok Vajpeyi today said Kerala has been at the receiving end of such a situation but the state is battling it out by hosting a string of international standard cultural events.
“Unlike other states in the country, in Kerala, traditions, classicism, orthodoxy, innovation and boldness co-exist. The state hosts a large number of international events. So it’s very important that Kerala keeps on the tradition at a time when voices of dissent are being suppressed in the country,” he said.
Vajpeyi was delivering the presidential address during the inauguration of the 11th edition of the Kritya International Poetry Festival 2017 at Bharath Bhavan in the Kerala capital. Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan inaugurated the three-day poetry festival, which has been organised in association with Bharath Bhavan and Delhi-based Raza Foundation from November 9 to 11, along with two extension programmes on November 8 and 12.
The theme of the festival is ‘Poetry against Xenophobia and Racism’. Well-known poets from India and other countries are participating in the event.
Citing events like the Kochi-Muziris Biennale and international film and documentary festivals, Vajpeyi, who is also the Managing Trustee of the Raza Foundation, said organising such cultural events is not possible in any other parts of India currently.
While commenting on the status of poetry, he said there is little space for poetry. “The voice of poetry is hardly heard and paid attention to,” Ashok Vajpeyi lamented.
“Poetry in times of devaluation and totalisation of language tries to keep language alive in its human intensity, moral vigour and emotional strength. Poetry is a noble trinity of courage, creativity and conscience. Whether it’s heard or not, it should raise its voice,” he asserted.
“Unlike religious leaders, politicians, spiritual gurus, ideologues and mediapersons et.al, poets do not doubt themselves. Poetry is written more often out of doubt rather than certainty,” Ashok Vajpeyi added.
The Raza Foundation itself has dedicated programmes and platforms for giving voice to poets in India and around the world. In November, the Foundation will host Estonian poet Doris Kareva at a poetry reading session (Nov 16) in Delhi and the sixth edition of its Aaj Kavita series (Nov 23) where young poets present their works. The YUVA programme from Nov 22-23 will bring together young Hindi writers.
Also this month, the Foundation is hosting a two-day event in Raipur, Chhattisgarh, (Nov 12-13) in honour of the noted Hindi poet and writer Gajanan Madhav Muktibodh whose centenary is being celebrated this year.
The Raza Foundation’s biggest platform for poets is the VAK-The Raza Biennale of Asian Poetry whose second edition will be held in April 2019. Malayali poets Anitha Thampi and Kutti Revathi who participated in the inaugural edition of the poetry biennale this year, have their works featured in Swasti, the bi-annual newsletter of the Foundation.
Through its various initiatives and platforms, the Foundation endeavours to make the critical and the public come together in creative interactivity. It covers diverse forms of creative expression, namely visual arts, poetry, classical music, classical dance, cinema, architecture, photography, crafts and ideas.
Apart from direct interactions through talks, seminars, panel discussions, festivals, publications etc., the Raza Foundation supports a number of innovative or preservative initiatives taken by other individuals and institutions.