A Celebration of Literature

-Elizabeth Sebastian

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The ZEE Jaipur Literature Festival also known as the ‘greatest literary show on Earth’ arrived for the tenth time at Diggi Palace Hotel, this time paving way for more than eight lakh forty six thousand footfalls, to learn from and exchange ideas with their contemporaries.
Inaugurated by the Honourable Chief Minister Vasundra Raje, along with the legendary poet Gulzar Sahib, iconic beat poet Anne Waldman, and prominent Yogi Sadhguru on 19th January 2017. The beautiful front lawns of Diggi Palace Hotel were brimming with dignitaries, readers and writers from all over the world, proclaiming their love for art and literature and thirst for more. The events held at different venues included panel discussions, book launches, debates and poetry recitation.
After constant uncertainty regarding which session to attend, one finalises on the one that sounds the most interesting, while having to sacrifice equally brilliant sessions occurring during the same time and decides to attend ‘In Search of a Muse: On Writing Poetry’ the final session of Day 1 (19-01-2017). This session saw some of the prominent poets such as Anne Waldman, Auður Ava Olafsdóttir, Kate Tempest, Ruth Padel, Tishani Doshi and Vladimir Lucien reciting their poems and revealing their ‘muse’ or inspiration for their poetry. After divulging details about their sources of inspiration, they also shared their thoughts upon writing poetry. Kate Tempest said “For me, it just comes upon me, something from within. It’s a part of you that you write.”
Day 3 (21-1-2017) was another enthralling day of the fest which began with a panel discussion on the book ‘Battling the Gods: Atheism in the Ancient World’, titled the same, featuring Tim Whitmarsh, A.N.D. Haksar and Alex Watson in which the panellists discussed that Atheism is not a modern find but an ancient phenomenon and existed during the 6th and 5th B.C..
Day 5, unfortunately the last day of the fest (23-1-2017), was yet another day which brought uncertainty in the minds of young, enthusiastic literates as the day was packed with excellent talks and discussions. One of the sessions of the day titled ‘In Many Tongues’ was a personal favourite because of the wide range of poetry and short stories read in various languages (and then in English too, obviously!) and the exhibition of pride in each poet and writer who wrote in their respective language, was perceived by the audience when the speakers demonstrated the beauty and power of their respective languages. There were writers and poets from Latvia, Iceland, Wales, Brazil, France, Macedonia, Croatia and Mauritius. The diversity of languages and poetry in those languages on one stage was extraordinary and remarkable.
There were a lot of popular sessions by Devdutt Patnaik, Shashi Tharoor, Ashwin Sanghi and Imtiaz Ali but the avid readers and fans rushed in order to meet their idols and listen to them impart knowledge making it difficult for other enthusiast to enter the venue since it was full and jam packed. Unwavering enthusiasm and keenness of the audience shuttling between venues to attend sessions and book launches, along with knowledge and information from various cultures that was present and every discourse that took place, kept the spirit of literature fluttering throughout Diggi Palace Hotel. The festival was an overall hit for anyone with an ear for poetry and an eye for art.

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