Bengaluru Poetry Festival to go online

The Bengaluru Poetry Festival slated to begin on August 9 will be held online this year. Due to prevailing pandemic conditions, festival organiser Atta Galatta will release all content, including readings, videos, performances, talks and interviews, on the Bengaluru Poetry Festival site and social media on August 9.

This year, the festival revolves around poets whose work reflects an Indian ethos. One of the highlights will be a reading of the works of Telugu poet Varavara Rao, who was arrested in connection with the Bhima Koregaon case. Kannada poet Pratibha Nandakumar has curated a selection of his poems that have been translated into other languages and these will be presented at BPF.

“Pratibha and other poets will be reading Varavara Rao’s poems at the festival. The community of poets all over are raising their voice in protest over his unjust detention,” said Subodh Sankar, who conceptualised the annual festival with Lakshmi Subodh.

While the lockdown has played spoilsport to many events, the organisers of the Bengaluru Poetry Festival have used it as an opportunity to represent poets from around the world who may have been unable to attend under normal circumstances.

Mr. Sankar cited the example of Meera Dasgupta, a 16-year-old girl born and raised in America, who is the 2020 Youth Poet Laureate of the United States. Rajiv Mohabir, a powerful voice in America’s LGBTQ community, will be doing a reading of his work this year.

“Of Guyanese Indian descent, Mohabir’s poetry is essentially trilingual. Though he writes in English, his mother tongue is Bhojpuri and having grown up as a Guyanese Indian, he speaks Guyanese Creole and his poetry reflects an Indian ethos,” he said.


Annie Finch, a senior poet who compiled an anthology on women’s voices focussing entirely on the topic of abortion as well as four Indian poets who contributed to that anthology, will be presenting their work.

Hussain Haidry, the firebrand poet whose works in Hindi and Urdu galvanised crowds in Delhi during the Citizenship Amendment Act protests, novelist Tabish Khair whose first book of poetry is out, and Asiya Zahoor from Kashmir will also be a part of the festival.

The Bengaluru Poetry Festival will be held on August 9 and can be viewed at

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Sagar Biswas

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