The city is getting ready for 100 Thousand Poets for a Change — a worldwide initiative to broker peace with poetry.
It isn’t Gargi Ranade and Laxmi Krishnan’s first time organising an event in this capacity. They have organised several poetry events in the city in the past. You know, the open mics, the poetry meetings, the reading clubs, and the like. But it is the first time they are organising a poetry event that will see an audience throughout the world.
100 Thousand Poets for Change is an initiative started in the year 2011, by the poet duo Michael Rothenberg and Terri Carrion. It unites poets and poetry lovers all over the world, to participate in the global art pool, and poets from various backgrounds to share their views on social change. This year, more than 500 events are scheduled to happen in over 100 countries. And considering the booming poetry scene in the city, Mumbai is keen to participate too. Among the several 100 Thousand Poet for a Change events, one of them is being organised by Gargi and Laxmi.
Both Gargi and Laxmi are third year students from the Mumbai University studying psychology and English literature respectively. For Gargi, poetry was an interest for years. But it was only recently that she decided to make it more than just a hobby. A part of Open Sky Slam, a poetry slam in the city, Gargi started writing her original poems a few months ago. When asked if she is an enthusiast or a poet, Gargi recalls how she got into poetry. “I joined Open Sky Slam when I wasn’t a poet,” she recalls, adding, “But I guess I am a poet today. I write original poems, I have a poetry blog, and I also participated in the Poetry Month during April this year, where participants have to write a poem each other for the whole of April. So, I guess I am a poet,” she says.
Laxmi is the founder of Blind Book Date, where there are books wrapped up in brown paper and the only hint you have is a word or two specifying the genre or hinting at the mood of the book. How the date ends is up to fate, much like any other blind date. “The line-up has poets belonging to several different genres and platforms. We have poets who have had big publishers publish their poems, poets who have self-published their content, some poets who write just for Instagram and other social media sites. In fact, the line-up also has poets who write in different languages — Hindi, Marathi, Gujrati, apart from English,” she says.
Explaining that one the reasons poets spread across such a wide spectrum are participating, Laxmi presses on diversity. “Our aim was to be inclusive and bring in diversity through the art,” she says. Indeed, different languages will bring to the fore different social issues, different mediums are preferred to share different ills.
Their event, which will be held in White Owl Brewery in the city, isn’t the only one. Poet Menka Shivdasani organises one every year in Kitab Khana. Apart from this, Mumbai University students are also hosting one. Neha Pandit, a student from the university getting her Master’s degree, recalls that it was originally her HOD (head of department) who was keen to participate in the global event. “It started off with an email from our HOD urging us to participate. Once we got a basic understanding of what is to be done and how we have to go about it, we started feeling excited about it,” she says. While worldwide, the event will take place on September 30, students of Mumbai University will hold on of the 29th, seeing how the 30th is Dussehra.
The line-up at the event Laxmi and Gargi are organising will have Anish Vyavahare, Sudeep Pagedar, Aranya Johar, Nadeem Raj, Harnidh Kaur, Prateek Singh, Navaldeep Singh, Rochelle Potkar, Vinita Agrawal, Hussain Haidry, Shivani Lalan, and musician Neerad Sumeet. “We will be documenting the whole event and the poetries shared will be archived by the Stanford University as well,” elaborates Laxmi. “We are really excited to share poetry related to social change on such a global level,” she concludes, hoping that the evening will be promising.