National Workshop in Creative Writing

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Remembering Rabindranath Tagore: Exploring Myriad Realms of His Creativity (A commemoration of Tagore’s 150th Birth Anniversary)

November 27-29 & 30, 2011

Jayanta Mahapatra and Prof. Kar

A National Workshop in Creative writing, organized by Balvant Parekh Centre for General Semantics and Other Human Sciences, took place in Baroda on the 27th and 28th November 2011. The Workshop Sessions were conducted by eminent poets, writers, scholars, educationists and academicians. The third day, i.e., the 30th November,  was dedicated to pay homage to the genius of the legendary poet, novelist, playwright, short story writer, artist, nationalist, philanthropist, educator, philosopher and musician— Rabindranath Tagore. 30 poets, artists and young scholars made the workshop a colourful event.

During the inauguration, Prof. Prafulla C Kar delivered the welcome address and introduced the objectives of the workshop. The gathering of many creative writers and critics created the right ambience for the workshop. The event formally began with an invocation song of Rabindranath Tagore – ‘guner poroshmini choo prne’, sung by Ms. Sanchita Choudhury. Dr. Bini B.S., the Academic Fellow of the Centre proposed a vote of thanks before the commencement of the Workshop sessions.

      Prof. Jayanta Mahapatra, the eminent poet, chaired the first session on creative writing. Prof. Mahapatra emphasized that the legendary reputation of Rabindranath Tagore has been the fruit of his relentless effort and undisputable talent. After a brief introduction on contemporary poetry, Prof. Mahapatra recapitulated the mistakes that he had made in his earlier days. He observed that his poems are the reflection of the culture, customs, landscape, rituals and problems of his native State Orissa that helped him mature as a poet. According to him creativity gets nurtured and honed only with regular and sincere practice. He suggested to the participants that they should send their poems and creative works to reputed journals and publishers to seek genuine feedback. He also pointed out that in order to become a poet one needs to be very familiar with the language that he or she chooses to write in.  Feelings, he said, should not get lost amidst intriguing words or labyrinth of language. He acknowledged that his close connection with English made it a medium to of expression of his intense poetic feelings.

      Prof. Mahapatra read out a poem, “A Dream of Toast” by Kimiko Hahn published in American Poetry Review and invited responses from the participants. A lively discussion ensued. In the next session Esther David, the Indian Jewish writer, art critic and sculptor and Rani Dharker, the Baroda-based novelist shared their experiences with the audience. Esther read out excerpts from her novel Walled City , first published by East West Books, Madras . This narrated the story of three generations of Ben Israel Jewish women living in the city of Ahmedabad . Rani Dharker read excerpts from her recently published novel Anurima. As a piece of advice to the participants present there she suggested that one need not fall in love with the first draft of one’s writing. A brief question answer session followed after this reading session.

      “Teaching of Literature in a Digital Age” was the title of a thought provoking lecture by Prof. Jaysinh Birjepatil of Marlboro College , USA . Prof. Birjepatil, who is the author of two novels, reflected upon contemporary dilemma regarding pedagogy in the digital age; on how language and creativity suffered in this digital world. Prof. Ghulam Mohammed Sheikh, an internationally renowned painter, writer and art critic, spoke on the emergence and proliferation of language. He added that since words come to us in many ways, a writer has to modify, retrieve and shape and reshape languages. Prof. Sitanshu Yashaschandra, the noted Gujarati poet and playwright, highlighted in his lecture the categorical differences between Western and Oriental poetics. He insisted that poets and writers should extract the benefits of technology and at the same time retain their creative faculty unaffected by the excessive digitization all over.

 

 

 

 

 

               A Section of the Audience                                                       Esther David, Sudha Pandya & Rani Dharkar

Prof. Jayanta Mahapatra conducted an activity session with the participants. He asked each participant to write a poem with the first line of “A Dream of Toast.” Later, all the poems composed by the participants were read aloud and discussed. He gave his feedback after going through these poems. Later, he initiated an instant poetry writing session. He wrote a line on the blackboard and asked the participants to come forward and compose their poems by the using the line as a cue.

The third day was devoted to a tribute to Tagore on the occasion of his 150th birth anniversary. The day began with the screening of a documentary film on Tagore directed by legendary film director Satyajit Ray. Later in the day, papers on Tagore were presented by Professors E.V. Ramakrishnan, Gour K. Das, and Dr. Neeti Singh and Ms. Sanchita Choudhury. In his paper titled “Tagore as Our Contemporary: Social Imaginary and Political Ideology in His Works” Professor Ramakrishnan reflected on the profundity of Tagore’s thought and sense of beauty. Prof. Gour K. Das spoke on Tagore’s contribution in the field of education. Dr. Neeti Singh’s  paper, “Some Reflections on the Relevance of Tagore,” commented upon the poet’s engagement with translation, with educational experiment, and with aesthetic ideas. Ms. Sanchita Choudhury’s performance-based delivery on bhng gn (adapted songs) in “Rabindranath Tagore- A Step toward Hybridity” threw a light on a much less explored area of Tagore: paper the influence of different musical genres in the music of Tagore, popularly known as Rabindra sangeet. She cited examples of Tagore’s bhng gn influenced by Scottish, Irish, English, South Indian and North Indian music as well as folk music of Bengal and beyond.

                                             Tagore Program                                     Parul Shah and Sanchita

The film Chrulat, by Satyajit Ray was screened for showing the participants how the film director appropriated Tagore’s text for a visual rendering of a complex text based upon vignettes of the poet’s life. The program ended with Rabindra Sangeet sung by Sanchita Choudhury, Neeti Singh and Vanita Thakkar, and with dance performance by Professor Parul Shah from the Faculty of Performing Arts, MSU and her students.

 Sanchita Choudhury                                                     Indian Institute of Technology Kharagpur