Note: I wrote this on my earlier blog hosted as http://parallelspirals.blogspot.com/. I recovered the text from the WayBack Machine. This post appeared on February 9, 2011 as per the permalink. I’m trying to collect here again all my old writings spread on various blogs.
Kirk arrived in Mumbai again for the Kala Ghoda Festival at quarter to midnight on February 6, 2011. He was to reach at half an hour past two in the afternoon. So, he missed the Festival on Feb 6. I wanted to go there but was tired and a bit lazy to go there in the evening after attending the Chai and Why session at Prithvi in the afternoon.
We headed to Kala Ghoda in the evening of Feb 7, 2011. We had planned on attending the literary session on literary spaces available in Mumbai. We walked in a few minutes into the discussion where Marathi poet Hemant Divate was speaking. He spoke of his work of editing the literary journal Abhidhanantar. He said that Marathi had a vibrant poet community but there is as was a sense of danger that there might not be Marathi poetry or places to publish Marathi poetry very soon. The themes was shared by Divya Nadkarni of Nether.
In reply, Ranjit Hoskote of PEN, a writers association said that since the 1870s the world of literature has been living in this apocalyptic phase of it being the end of the written word or books or good literature. He said that we had done well till date and will continue to do well in the future.
The talk went on about how there needs to be more spaces for literary publication and discussion. The talk was joined in by Sharmishta Mohanty of Almost Island and Indira Chandrasekhar of Out of Print. The session was moderated by Sampurna Chatterji of PEN.
Divya was the youngest of the lot and seemed the most pessimistic. I went on Feb 8 and had a look through the books and did buy the first and second issue of Nether. I hope to read about it whence I complete my massive backlog.
Personally, I think there was no place that a new reader can “learn” about reading such work. There is no known place where one can learn to discern things about the world of Mumbai literature without following it for a pretty long time. The magazines seem to be publishing works of poetry and prose without really helping a reader understand what is happening in the literary scene. The question did come up about the literary scene – and the difference in all the answers showed it had not been thought about or written about. There are now operations like PEN and Caferati in South Mumbai but not yet the widespread Book Clubs culture which could help in strengthening the literary scene in Mumbai.