A StageBuzz Special Report on the Workshop

Savita Singh in Birmingham

Savita Singh

Savita Singh, Poet and philosopher travelled to Birmingham, UK on the invitation of SAMPAD and recently launched Vishwa Hindi Abhiyaan in the UK.  with its 1st programme held at the UK co-ordinators residence on 15th March..

As she remained in residence in Birmingham as a poet, she conducted a number of workshops on creative writing, language, fiction and poetry. Her first workshop was held at the premises of  the programme co-ordinator, Titikssha   Shah on the 15th of March, 2009. A number of creative writers residing in various parts of Great Britain travelled to attend this rather unique event, as in the process of unravelling the mystery of poetry, Savita Singh went deep in the philosophical aspect of creativity and its centrality in human life. Poetry, she said, is an event in language, and language, in a Heidegerian vein, being itself. She addressed the layers of ontological structures, one among them being the expressivist one, where poetry sits in wait for a poet who calls her and let her be in the language.

In this workshop she read some of her poems, both in English and Hindi and then addressed the condition of our multilinguality, the joy of translation and its necessity for understanding the multiplicity that the world is today. Poetry prefers no one language, she is democratic and effervescent and given to all who care about the uniqueness of their life. Hindi is a modern language and thus has the sensibility of democracy and multiliguality built into its very structure, say by birth. Great literature has been written in this language, and now a number of women are writing in this language as never before. Indeed, there is a feminist expression in contemporary poetry in Hindi today as some decades ago there was a romantic and progressive poetry influenced by the radical dreams of transforming the society.

Savita Singh is among the leading feminist poets of India and her works, both poetry and fiction, are translated in almost all Indian languages and most of them in the foreign too. Her latest anthology of poems in French is entitled "je suis la maison des etoiles" (I Am A House of the Stars). Clara Janes has translated her poems in Spanish and published them widely. German, Dutch and Catolonean languages too have welcomed her in their fold. Her bilingual book of poetry (Hindi and English)  "Rowing Together" with Sukrita Paul Kumar has opened the debate on translation and transcreation.Poetry longs for the later perhaps, and if that is achieved, as perhaps  it has happened with the " Rowing Together"' it brings rewards of admirative reading  too.

Her second workshop was with the senior students of New Heath School, where she interacted with students and teachers mainly from the Asian-African background. She ran the entire workshop on this understanding that Britain's multiculturalism is more an acknowledgement of the being of other languages within which life breathes more authentically. This latest democratic move by the state is good for literature   written in languages such as Urdu, Hindi, Mirpuri Bangla, Sudanese or English in Britain.  In the workshop many students read their creative pieces in ther above mentioned languages and spoke about the urge of writing in these languages as they were born in them. Qestions of translation were also dealt with as they become necessary in a society that recognizes multilinguality as the basis of its culture and polity, which today’s Britain is.

Workshops kept on happening one after the other till on Friday, on the March 20th, when Savita Singh read her poems in the City Library of Birmingham with Julie Boden, poet in Residence, Symphony Hall, Birmingham and  former Poet Laureate, and Chris Morgan, the present poet Laureate of the city. Well attended, the audience was enthralled by Savita Singh's renderings- her small introduction of herself was truly a poetic gesture for the lucidity of her 'being' as a philosopher, academician and a poet unfolded spontaneously. Shree Ranjit Sondhi, OBE, and Patron of SAMPAD, introduced her as a 'feminst poet of India who is a world citizen and  who shares our concerns of  our world  going wrong." Savita Singh in her characteristic vein read both her Hindi and English poems acquainting the audience with the subliminity of these languages and the willingness of poetry to become an experience in them. She read some translations as well apart from the original poems she wrote in both the langauges. She thanked Titikssha Shah, the programme co-rdinator, Piali Ray, Director of SAMPAD and all others who made this great gesture towards poetry, including it in the overall cultural programme that went on for a whole week.

This event of poetry in the city of Birmingham ended with an extraordinary finale: SAMPAD and the City Library asked Savita Singh and Julie Boden to inaugurate the commencement of an international competition in creative writing entitled  "Journeys" . Both Savita Singh and Julie Boden were also appointed its judges. After selection of the best poems, awards would be announced and a collection of the best writings from the entries received an anthology, would be published edited by these two poets in 2010.

(Savita Singh is currently serving as a Professor and Director of the School of Gender and Development Studies, Indira Gandhi National Open University, Delhi)


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Editor: Manohar Khushalani

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