Ten poets from India and Wales are taking part in an exchange organized by Literature Across Frontiers and partners to mark the 70thanniversary of independent India. The collaborative project has brought them together to explore each other’s home location and create new work in six languages during a series of residencies in both countries. Alternating between the hustle and bustle of Indian metropolises and the peace and quiet of Welsh towns and rural locations, the project literally spans the two countries from Thiruvananthapuram in South Kerala to Shillong in the North-East, and from Bangor in North Wales to Swansea on the south coast.
The poets will address the theme of “independence” in a series of creative encounters that will have a ripple effect on the immediate environment in which the participating poets live and work. In artistic practice, independence meansfreedom to think, act and create beyond the confines of convention and economic necessity. But successful independence – of communities and individuals alike – also involves co-dependence, collaboration and understanding across divides and differences. At a time of global change which sees increasing friction between identities, we hope to open up a unique dialogue and formulate new narratives and ideas which both uncover and move beyond difficult histories.
The project was launched in May 2017 with readings by the Kannada poet, translator and academic Mamta Sagar at the Wales International Poetry Festival in Aberystwyth, Caernaforn and Bangor, and continued with residencies in Swansea and Bala, followed by a Wales “Mela” at the Hay Festival, featuring Nia Davies, Siân Melangell Dafydd, Mamta Sagar and Malayalam poet, Anitha Thampi, alongside authors of the Parthian Books’ project Village, City, Valleyand the Indo-Welsh music fusion band Khamira.
Poets and translators Sampurna Chattarji and Subhro Bandopadhyay visited Abersytwyth in August 2017 where they worked with local poets Eurig Salisbury and Nicky Arscott, before ending their visit in Anglesey at the National Eisteddfod. Avner Pariat travelled to Bangor in August to work with Rhys Trimble, exploring the links forged by Welsh missionaries in the 19thcentury between Wales and his native Khasi Jaintia Hills in the North-Eastern state of Meghalaya. Poet and editor of Poetry Wales Nia Davies spent time in Bangalore with Mamta Sagar, working on a number of participative performances with local artists and communities. The other Welsh poets visited their counterparts in Delhi, Kolkata, Shillong and Thiruvananthapuram, completing the cycle of residencies in autumn 2017 and appearing in numerous public events, running workshops and meeting with local writers.
Poetry Connections celebrates the thriving literary relations between India and Wales as developed through Literature Across Frontiers’ work since 2009, harnessing its legacy, and establishing a deeper collaborative relationships between the five pairs of poets. The work emerging from the residencies in 2017 will be showcased in a series of performances, readings and discussions during the 2018 winter literary seasonat festivals in Bhubaneswar, Chennai, Guwahati, Hyderabad, Jaipur and Kolkata, as well as in venues in New Delhi. A publication capturing the legacy of a decade of work by Literature Across Frontiers connecting the literary scenes of India and Wales will be launched, together with a box-set of five books with poetry in Bengali, English, Kannada, Khasi, Malayalam and Welsh written and translated during the project.