It’s a celebration of literature, one that aims to bring together people with literary leanings and a love for the written word. Chandigarh Sahitya Akademi’s (CSA) Festival of Letters, which begins on February 8, will bring together established writers and brand-new voices, claiming a legitimate place in the literary world on one platform. “CSA takes the literature business seriously. Over the past five years, it has endeavoured to make Chandigarh a literary hub of sorts, by creating occasions to bring local writers to interact with creative minds outside the city,” reflects Manju Jaidka, Chairperson of CSA.
This is the fourth festival by CSA, in collaboration with Panjab University and MELOW (The Society for the Study of the Multi-Ethnic Literatures of the World). This year, adds Jaidka, the festival has been clubbed with an international literature conference. The theme of the conference is “Patterns of Story Telling: Traditions, innovations, visions and revisions”. The sessions are open to the audience. Jaidka adds that the festival will bring visibility to Chandigarh as CSA’s constant effort has been to involve the public in these literary interactions.
The sessions begin on February 8 at the English auditorium at 10.15 am, with Keki N. Daruwalla, a poet and short story writer opening the festival. Daruwalla, also a former IPS officer, has written over 12 books and was awarded the Sahitya Akademi Award in 1984 for his poetry collection, The Keeper of the Dead. “The festival has been designed in a way that it appeals to a wider audience. Poetry, drama, fiction in English, Hindi and Punjabi find place in the festival,” adds Jaidka.
For budding writers, the festival will provide a lot of exposure. One of the highlights is an evening with poet and lyricist Irshad Kamil, a former student of Panjab University, who will talk about his journey as a poet and film song writer, and his connection with the campus. Ravindra Kalia, a renowned storyteller of Hindi literature, Nabha-based Punjabi poet Darshan Buttar, known as the “big poet of short poems” and Sahitya Akademi Award winner will present their works on the first day.