Recently attended a very novel and “hatke” concept of “speed dating with literature” at the Spanish Institute in Connaught Place. It was an excellent evening of literature with readings by several well established poets/authors/playwriters from India and Europe. The concept was designed in such a manner that groups of audiences were to be read to by an author for 15-20 minutes about their work.
So we were divided into several groups of about 12-15 people each, colour coded groups and then assigned a reading session list, whereby each group gets to be with a different author in an intimate session wherein we could also interact with them once they had finished reading. End of each session, we moved out to mooch on some delicious grub, catered by Ploof, Lodhi road, before heading into the next reading.
Our opening session was with Raj Kamal Jha who has written a book titled “She will build him a city”. Truth be told, his reading left me unimpressed. With bated breathe we headed out of the audi to follow our colour coded group leader and onto our second session.
I was totally blown away by the charming and efferverscent Queen of Slam Poetry – Aisling Fahey from UK/Ireland who performed her verses with such verve and sass, that one couldnt but help want to hear more and more and more. Whether it was a poem on Mother, or on the Irish war or just about being oneself – each was composed with heartfelt words, strung into the prose meter with perfect symmetry of expression and grammar. This is one poetess I recommend and intend to research more;read more about her work.
Katarzyna Bonda is an amazing revelation – Looks like a sassy fashion editor of a glossy couture magazine, writes about gory crimes, is the highest selling female author in Poland and reads with that perfect pitch in her polish accented voice. It was a pity that she read only in Polish as her translator didnt do justice – or rather that is my biased view as I would have loved to hear the nuances of thrill and suspense from the horse’s ….er … the authoress’s mouth! Her first novel, The case of Nina Frank, was nominated for Poland’s top crime-writing prize, The high Calibre Award. Her books will be translated in English by 2017 – I am eagerlywaiting! Long wait unless I learn to read polish first!!!
Josef Haslinger from Austria is a noted author with many books under his belt. He was caught in the 2004 Tsunami while holidaying with his family in Phi Phi and talked about how this affected his writing. One day he decided to write about his account of his horrifying tryst with one of the greatest natural disasters in human history. He read a few passages from his book and we were all transported to his world of horror. He spoke about how many people have written to him about their experience with the Tsunami and his book has helped them all recant this experience.
A french TV reporter, photographer and now an author, Constantin Simon says he has been “indianised” though he will always remain a “gora” in India. An excellent wit, penned down into his narratives on India, made for a very humourous reading from his book – India Express. This book records his impressions of his encounters of life in the Indian subcontinent. So whether it was the launch of TATA Nano or being trampled in the Mahakumbh – he describes each with equal elan and humour.
Danko Rabrenovic read us his work Herzlich Willkommencic. He migrated to Germany when war broke out in the Balkan states to avoid being drafted into the army as he couldnt decide who he wanted to shoot – Serbia or Croatia as one is his fatherland and one is his motherland!
Gabor Lanckzor is a skillful wizard of arts and weaves his imagination through them all – poetry, painting, music – to create brilliant pieces of art of his own. He bewitched us with his poetry which was linked through a series of Goya’s paintings and each verse was underlined with a soulful rendition on the mouth organ to mark the end. I havent seen anything quite like this ever in my life!
Asha Miro is an Indian who was adopted at age six by a Spanish family. She calls Barcelona and India her homes and has written a beautiful tale of her search for her blood family, titled Daughter of the Ganges! This book has been a bestseller in her adopted country and has even inspired a cartoon series.
Andrea Bianchetti speaks Italian and it seemed he was making love with words – I concur that Italian is the language of love! His poetry is based on the second world war and the best part about his reading was the Mime artist who enacted out while he spoke in Italian. This was a poetry reading unlike any, that I have ever been to.
The evening ended with a wine session at the reception, where the esteemed guests could be seen mingling with the public with great ease. We were elated yet sad to leave as we wanted more. And to top it all we had been there for full 5 hours – from 6p.m. till 11 p.m. and couldnt wait to attend another such session soon enough.
I really want to thank all the language institutes which put together this massive endeavour to bring such classy and poignant literature to us.