Lekhana: A literary weekend for Bengaluru

A host of writers from around the country are meeting in Bengaluru this weekend in a first-of-its kind event. Author C K Meena is excited.

Bengaluru will finally have its own literary weekend. Lekhana comes to the city between February 10-12. The event has been organized by Toto Funds the Arts (TFA), Sangam House (an international writers’ residency program), DeshaKaala (a journal for arts and letters in Kannada) and Reading Hour (a print magazine for Indian creative writing), in partnership with the National Gallery of Modern Art (NGMA). “The City" is the theme this year.

With panel discussions, readings, performances and an event bookstore, it promises to be an intersection space for the city’s varied writers, literary cultures and languages.

C K Meena, Chairperson, TFA says of the vision behind the event, “Lekhana is not only for readers but for writers too. One of our main objectives is to bring together writers from different languages. They rarely meet, and this would be an occasion for them to get to know each other. It is a pity that in a multilingual, multicultural city like Bengaluru, the literary streams seldom mingle. For readers, of course, this would be a bonanza, because they would get to listen to literature in their own language, be it Bengali, Marathi, Tamil or Malayalam.”

In this spirit, readings at Lekhana will be in Bengali, Danish, English, French, German, Hindi Italian, Kannada, Malayalam, Marathi, Tamil, Tulu and Urdu. Participating authors include a wide range of well-known and lesser known names, all who have made their own indelible contribution to the city’s literary landscape.

Participating authors at Lekhana 2012

Anja Snellman, Anjum Hasan, Anna Clemensen Bro, Arundhati Ghosh, Ashutosh Potdar, Bageshree, V R Carpentor, Chintmani Kodlekere, Claus Ankersen, Deepika Arwind, Douna Loup, Eugene Lee, Francesca Marciano, Frank Dominic, D W Gibson, Gaurav Monga, Girish Karnad, Indira Chandrashekhar, Jahnavi Barua, Joshua Muyiwa, Khaleel-ur-Rehman, KR Usha, Kutti Revathi, Lakshmi Holmstrom, Lotte Thrane, Mamta Sagar, M V Manjunath, Maunesh, N Sukumaran, Rahul Soni, Samhita Arni, Saniya, Sandeep Shikhar, Shrimata, M S Sriram, Sushruta Dodderi, Tejeshree, Usha Rajagopalan and Zac O’Yeah.

There are many aspects that make this event unique to Bengaluru. C K Meena shares, "Bengaluru has never before seen such a literary gathering spread over an entire weekend. The other is that we have tried to include writers from as many languages as possible from the city. We have deliberately not called a lit fest because it would remind you of those other big lit fests in Jaipur and so on, with all their razzamatazz."

So where did the idea called Lekhana begin? C K Meena says, "A year ago, TFA and Sangam House were bandying about the idea of organising a weekend of readings by local writers. From idle thoughts we moved on to serious planning, and then we decided to expand the idea to include a full-fledged event with discussions, performances, and so on. This meant we needed more hands to help us, so we quickly roped in DeshaKaala, and later, Reading Hour. Since we didn’t want to bite off more than we could chew, we decided to start small."

The inviting NGMA, venue for Lekhana on February 10-12th, Bangalore.

But with readings in 13 languages, and close to 40 participating readers, it has clearly been no small beginning for Lekhana. Yet, the ever-modest C K Meena says, "If this weekend goes off well, who knows, we might be foolish enough to work our backsides off and plan another one sometime in the future!"

Meanwhile Bengaluru has its fingers crossed – both for Lekhana 2012 and many more such literary weekends that cater to the reader and writer alike.

Panel Discussions at Lekhana 2012

The City in Literature
: The panel will discuss the representation of Bengaluru in literature and the arts, whether the city has a character which sets it apart from the other cities in India.

Translations as Conversations
: Apart from giving us access to texts that are far away from us in space and time, what else do translations accomplish?

Writing about Writing: How do we write about writing? Or how do we write about writing in India in 2012 given the opportunities and challenges?

The Culture Elephant: The presentation asks the audience to reflect on the various sources and dynamics of the cultural form that characterise the city of Bengaluru.

New Writing in Kannada: There is an abundance of new writers in Kannada and they come from different social backgrounds, have varied educational qualification and pursue different professions. The diversity of experiences being brought into Kannada literature will be the focus of this panel. (Lekhana will be held at National Gallery of Modern Art. Admission to Lekhana is free and open to all.)

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