Sensorium 2014: In Search of a 'Gathering of Poets'

December 4, 2014 2:34 PM

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Sensorium 2014: In Search of a 'Gathering of Poets'

Currently in India there are so many arts and literary festivals, the joke goes, that they outnumber the participants. One school of thought questions their existence -- after all, aren't writers meant to be a solitary, nervous type? Isn't it selling out to skedaddle from festival to festival, hustling ones book or flogging the same dead horse of an old exhibition? But the bestselling historian William Dalrymple advanced an important belief to me in Goa. He referenced the almost timeless kavi sammelans -- a gathering of poets -- where one bard recited his work and another, responded to it, often on the spot entirely. This thought became the guiding fundament when, over drinks, close friends Raj and Dipti Salgaocar invited me to found a festival that their arts institution, Sunaparanta, could entirely support.

I was hesitant. Having attended many literary festivals I'd learned to do the circuit as a kind of occupational hazard. If you ask most writers, they'll tell you how a festival may not entirely destroy the soul but it certainly comes pretty close to sending it to rehab. Writers and artists don't far...

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