Home Literature Mumbai Poetry Festival: Celebrating 20 years of Poetrywala

Mumbai Poetry Festival: Celebrating 20 years of Poetrywala

Mumbai Poetry Festival: Celebrating 20 years of Poetrywala

Mumbai Poetry Festival will celebrate the 20th anniversary of Poetrywala, a publishing organization, on January 5-6, 2024

Ashraf Aboul-Yazid | Cairo

The name Poetrywala was suggested by Dilip Chitre and the logo was designed by him after translating into English Hemant Divate’s first book of poems Choutishiparyantchya Kavita (Poems till 34 years of age) as Virus Alert.

In 2003, there were no publishers publishing poetry in English or English translation. AbhidhaNantar Marathi poetry movement (1992) started publishing books of poetry in Marathi in 2001 and it was a huge success. When they began, they were not aware that the journey would be long and full of adventure, full of discovery. They have, till date, published more than 150 poetry collections including many collected and selected works of path-breaking poets, from more than 30 world languages translated into English. My book “The Memory of Silence” was one of these grand poetic galaxies.

Mumbai Poetry- Festival-
Mumbai Poetry Festival 2017

In the case of Poetrywala, poetry publishing is a non-profit activity. It is a movement. That is the perspective with which Hemant and Smruti Divate became publishers. In Marathi, they used to bring out the magazines Abhidha (1992) and then Abhidha Nantar (1998-2008). Abhidha Nantar especially, curated poetry in Marathi about the impact of globalization on life and literature and about how globalization was changing culture and society here because this subject needed to be aired. When they felt they had achieved that, they shut down the magazine. Poetry needs to change with the times, or else they will write the same things over and over again, as they expressed in narrating their story in the invitation sent to highlight the new edition of Mumbai Poetry Festival 2024.

Some of Poetrywala’s achievements are having four TataLitLive Poet Laureate awards; awarded to poets published by Poetrywala in the last six years, six Maharashtra State awards in the last four years, publishing over 80 poets/writers with more than 160 poetry collections, and publication of Marathi literary journals Abhidha and AbhidhaNantar for 18 years.

Mumbai - Poetry-Festival
Ashraf Aboul-Yazid and his book (The Memory of Silence) with Smruti Divate & Hemant Divate

Abhidhanantar has been credited with providing a strong platform for new poets and enriching the post-nineties Marathi literary scene. (They have now relaunched the magazine and it is available on their website www.poetrywalafoundation.com). The AbhidhaNantar Award (2001) comprising a cash prize of Rs. 25000, bringing incredible and fresh talent in Marathi poetry to the forefront.

Poetrywala also organized ‘Nava Jagna, Navi Kavita’; a day-long seminars to discuss the impact of globalization on life and poetry at various locations in Maharashtra. There was another day-long seminar in 1996 on the work of India’s most respected poet, Shri. Dilip Chitre. ‘Kavitecha Divas, a day-long festival on the tenth anniversary of Abhidha. Arun Kolatkar, Dilip Chitre, Vasant Dattatrey Gurjar, Ashok Shahane, Gurunath Samant, Tulsi Parab, and Satish Kalsekar were together on the same platform for the first time and read their poetry along with post-90s Marathi poets.

Poetrywala published ‘Live Update, the only anthology of recent Marathi poetry in the past 50 years translated into English. They organized a day long Poetrywala International Festival in Mumbai in 2013 in association with Sir JJ College of Architecture, Mumbai.

They achieved many awards and accolades for their work including The Maharashtra Foundation Award, and they organized a two-day Mumbai Poetry Festival in 2017 in association with TISS, which I attended to celebrate the publication of my English collection “The Memory of Silence”, which became the original text for other translations into Russian, Sindhi, Urdu, Serbian, and German and, while other translations into Persian, Azerbaijani, and Spanish depended on the Arabic texts of my poems.

This edition of Mumbai Poetry Festival 2024 will celebrate the 20th anniversary of Poetrywala. The festival will be presented by PAPERWALL in Association with THE RAZA FOUNDATION on 5th & 6th of January 2024 at The Glamour Banquet Hall Hotel Bawa International Nehru Road.

After registration on 5th January 2024, there will be a welcome Address: Smruti Divate & Hemant Divate, followed by an inaugural address by Ashok Vajpeyi, on Poetry and freedom. The first session on Latin American Poetry with Victor Rodriguez Núñez, Katherine Hedeen, Dulce Chiang, and Rei Berroa will be moderated by Subhro Bandopadhyay

At noon, there will be the release of Hemant Divate’s Paranoia translated by Mustansir Dalvi & Hemant Divate’s selected poems in Kannada translation – Nakli Digilu translated by HS Shivaprakash & Kamalakar. The Bhat Poetry readings’ session by Mustansir Dalvi, Hemant Divate, Kamalakar Bhat, Dulce Chiang, and Christos Koukis will be moderated by Sachin Ketkar.

The release of Siddhartha Menon’s book of poems – The Compass Bird will be after the lunch break, followed by poetry readings by Siddhartha Menon, Jerry Pinto, Mukta Sambrani, Claus Ankersen, and Amlanjyoti Goswami  in a session moderated by Menka Shivdasani.

The release of Prabal Kumar Basu’s book of poems – In Search of Silence will be at 3.05 pm (Mumbai Time), followed by poetry readings by Prabal Kumar Basu, Adrian Grima, H S Shivaprakash, Bodhi Sattva, and Menka Shivdasani with Moderator Pervin Saket.

The release of AbhidhaNantar Diwali Issue will be with poetry readings by Sachin Ketkar, Pradnya Daya Pawar, Dinkar Manwar, Manoj Pathak, Saleel Wagh, Minakshi Patil, and Manya Joshi. This session will be modersted bySanjeev Khandekar, with English translations by Mustansir Dalvi.

Mumbai Poetry-Festival
Paranoia by Hemant Divate

The final release of the day comes by Sanjeev Khandekar’s All That I Wanna Do in Marathi & English (English translation by Rahee Dahake) with moderator Prabodh Parikh.

On 6th January 2024 morning, there will be a keynote Address by Ganesh Devy, followed by the release of Sampurna Chattarji’s book of poems – Unmappable Moves. Moderator Mustansir Dalvi will organize the next poetry readings by Sampurna Chattarji, Marko Pogačar, Subhro Bandopadhyay, Udayan Vajpeyi, Ranjit Hoskote and Mrityunjay Kumar Singh.

Before noon, there will be a release of Brane Mozetic’s book of poems – – Obsessed with Life and poetry readings by  Kedar Mishra, Arundhathi Subramaniam, Rei Berroa, Sukrita Paul Kumar, and Prabodh Parikh with Moderator Suhit Bombaywala.

This will be followed by the release of Elizabeth Grech’s book of poems – Between Seas Discussion on Maltese Poetry Today: Sampurna Chattarji in conversation with Adrian Grima. After a lunch break, there will be a session entitled “Words are the only jewel I possess a poem each by all foreign poets in the original language.

Later, Mumbai Poetry JAM will be presented by Danish Hussain, Barnali Ray Shukla, Yamini Dand Shah, Bina, Anand Thakore, and Suhit Bombaywala, moderated by Anjali Purohit. The 2nd Mumbai Poetry JAM will have Smita Sahay, Ashwani Kumar, Urna Bose, Jennifer Robertson, Pervin Saket, Dion D’Souza, and Anjali Purohit, moderated by Anjali Purohit. A Bimb by Sanjeev Khandekar performed by Umesh Kulkarni. Mumbai Poetry Festival will be concluded with a valedictory address by Smruti Divate & Hemant Divate.

Published under the International Cooperation with The AsiaN, Seoul, South Korea 


Ashraf Aboul-Yazid is a renowned Egyptian poet, journalist, novelist, travelogue writer and translator. He is author of around three dozen books and Editor-in-Chief of Silk Road Literature Series.


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