Tag Archives: readings

The Venus Flytrap: All Scene, No Art?

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I tried not to judge, but wouldn’t you roll your eyes at the words “colouring book workshop for adults”? Then came the real kicker – the fee. It was the cost of a nice 3-course meal for two at any midscale restaurant. And if that restaurant happens to be family-friendly, you’d probably get table mats to not just colour, but also do crosswords and matching puzzles on. Totally complimentary.

Of course, other people’s time and money are not my concern. The off-putting feeling was really about what passes for leisure-cultural activity in Chennai. “But this is interactive” is no defense: when listening to an orchestra, doesn’t one participate right down to the goosebumps on one’s arms?

Some time ago, at the launch of a very good book, I looked around at the meagre audience and felt deeply annoyed. Just a couple of days prior, there had been another reading by aspirant writers, and their absence meant a conspicuous lack of support for someone who had stayed the course and worked hard to gain their current success. I’ve noted this often, over the years: the desire to be read, heard, watched, admired, applauded – but a reluctance to offer the same.

So many burn out because they fuel only their ambition, not their sense of awe. Whenever I discourage someone from self-publishing a collection before sending even a single poem to a poetry journal, or chide them for not reading enough, it’s because I’ve seen a little farther down the path than they have. I speak from just the distance I have come so far, but this I know:  the journey is full of disappointment, rife with treachery, and one keeps on it through tenacity, humility and something I can only name as grace. If you demand an audience while refusing to be in one, you become the proverbial frog under the coconut shell. And so does the art you make.

But when I was asked when I’d last been to an arts event not directly related to my own field, i.e. literature, I couldn’t pinpoint one within the last three months. I posed the same question to other Chennai-based artists – when had they last had a cultural experience outside their turf? A musician was unsure – there’d been a photo exhibit in the last month but he couldn’t recall its name. A dancer knew distinctly that at least a year had passed since catching Ponniyan Selvan onstage. A theatre practitioner had attended a concert early this year. The person who’d asked me the question, also a musician, couldn’t remember. My own answer had been a cheat: I’d visited two heritage monuments in Karnataka.

This highlights the next level of the problem: professionals who don’t frequently cross-pollinate locally. Even if most of us privately, compulsively, consume culture through books, films and music, this doesn’t necessarily influence our collective milieu. As tempting as it is to blame Chennai’s sparse arts scene (with a few concentrated festivals a year, not a continuous buzz) I’d prefer to turn the onus on us: those in, and who want to be in, the arts. Let’s colour outside the boxes a little more, shall we?

An edited version appeared in The New Indian Express on July 7th. “The Venus Flytrap” appears on Thursdays in Chennai’s City Express supplement.

Readings In London And Sheffield

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Following the Commonwealth Day Observance on March 9th, I enjoyed two more readings in England.

In London, I read at the vibrant Loose Muse, hosted at The Poetry Society’s Poetry Cafe in Covent Garden, along with Agnes Meadows and a formidable open mic group of women poets.

In Sheffield, I read Sheffield-Hallam University along with the novelist Desiree Reynolds.

Photos and videos from both these events can be found on my Facebook page.

Readings In Chennai And Pondicherry In November

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I’ll be participating as a guest in two events at Bookwallah, India’s first roving literary festival, which features five Indian and Australian writers travelling through India on a train. Please see their website for a full listing of events, and do attend. These are the two I am involved in:

 

Winds, currents and the elements of disguise: Antipodean and Indian poetry

November 15 2012, 8-9pm

Apparao Galleries, No. 7, Wallace Gardens, 3rd Street, Nungambakkam

India and Australia are two nations with a rich poetic history. Sudeep Sen, Sharanya Manivannan and Annie Zaidi bring poems from India, including the HarperCollins Book of English Poetry; Kirsty Murray and Benjamin Law bring some favourite poems from Australia to create a poetic conversation across the seas.

 

The Bookwallah Mini-writers Festival Finale

November 17 2012, 7-9pm

Aurodhan Gallery, 33 Rue François Martin, Kuruchikuppam, Pondicherry

The Bookwallah tour finishes three weeks of travel across India with a celebration of local and international stories and poems from our literary explorations of India. With special guests Sharanya Manivannan and Anuradha Majumdar.

 

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(Updated)

And finally, Prajnya’s 16 Days Campaign Against Gender Violence includes a poetry reading, “Not Silence, But Verse“, featuring Srilata Krishnan, L. Ramakrishnan and me.

Venue: Chamiers, New # 106, Old # 79, Chamiers Road, Chennai – 600028

Date and time: Thursday, 29 November, 6:30 p.m.-8 p.m.

 

Poetry Parnassus at Southbank Centre, London

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Because artists live outside and among blurred borders, because artists make the world smaller, because artists are cultural cross-pollinators, I am delighted and honoured (first I was baffled, then I was honoured, and now I am delighted) to represent Malaysia, where I mostly grew up, at Southbank Centre’s Poetry Parnassus Festival, which is bringing together poets from all over the world.

Here is more about the festival. And here is an interview with me on my participation in the festival.

I am currently scheduled to read on June 29th between 4pm and 6.45pm at a free event called “This Is What The World Sounds Like” at Southbank Centre’s Clore Ballroom. The festival schedule is subject to change, but you can see what else is taking place here. If you’re able to catch it (maybe literally!), the Rain of Poems should be very cool to watch.

My book of poems, Witchcraft, is not available at the festival bookstore, so you can only purchase it from me directly. If you’re in London, I would love to see you at Poetry Parnassus. Please come, and tell your friends.

January 2011 Events in Bangalore

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I have two events in Bangalore this weekend.

I’ll read briefly at the Toto Awards on Saturday the 8th, as I am shortlisted again this year. I have “always the bridesmaid” syndrome when it comes to this sort of thing, but we shall see… :)

And on Sunday the 9th, I will read at Poetry Across Borders at Jaaga. Please do come.

Reading in Bangalore

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I must warn you about something before I tell you about my next reading.

The other writer I am reading with is someone who has a very strange effect on me.

Sruthi Krishnan is a good friend, and one of the few people who make me blush a lot. Whenever I’m with her, I turn into a giggling juvenile. “I know you won’t believe me, but I’m actually a very serious person,” I’ve told her many times. “You’re right,” she says. “I don’t believe you.”

Consider yourself warned.

Toto Funds the Arts
is pleased to invite you
to a reading of short fiction and poetry by

Sharanya Manivannan
&
Sruthi Krishnan

Venue: Crossword Bookstore, ACR Towers, Ground Floor, 32 Residency Road,
Bangalore – 1


Date and time: Tuesday, 7 September 2010 at 6.30 pm

Reading at Madras Terrace House

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And it’s a thriller double-biller!

Monica Mody has published work in Wasafiri, Pratilipi, LIES/ISLE, nthposition, and elsewhere. Her chapbook Travel & Risk was brought out this year by the Wheelchair Party Press. Mody is the winner of the Nicholas Sparks Prize 2010 and the Toto Award for Creative Writing 2007. She has just received her M.F.A. in poetry from the University of Notre Dame.

Sharanya Manivannan
‘s book, Witchcraft, was described in The Straits Times as “sensuous and spiritual, delicate and dangerous and as full as the moon reflected in a knife”. Her poetry has also been published in Drunken Boat, Softblow, Pratilipi and elsewhere, and a personal column, “The Venus Flytrap”, appears in The New Indian Express.

Readings by Sharanya Manivannan and Monica Mody

Wednesday July 21 2010

Madras Terrace House, 15 Sri Puram IInd Street, off R.K. Salai, Royapettah, Chennai (Tel: 4503 8391)

7pm – 8.30pm

Please do come – I think this is the last event before MTH closes its doors, and the fantastic sale at the boutique and the nicest chai kadai in town are also not to be missed.