Bilingual Poetry Collection ‘MindScapes: A Bouquet of Bilingual Poetry’ Launched in Kolkata

Ipsita Ganguli, Gopa Bhattacharjee and Lopamudra Banerjee, a trio glued in friendship & poetry and often remembered together in the cultural sphere of Kolkata, collaborate again to co-create a bilingual poetry collection ‘MindScapes: A Bouquet of Bilingual Poetry’. On 6th December the book was officially launched in Kolkata at ICCR library. It’s their second collaboration after much-acclaimed poetry film ‘Kolkata Cocktail’.

In the preface of the book ‘MindScapes: A Bouquet of Bilingual Poetry’, expatriate poet and author Lopamudra Banerjee encapsulated her emotional and poetic fervour in describing her fluid perspective regarding both poetry and life through these opening lines:
“I see this world as a visual poetry in motion. As a free-spirited child woman who always lives in a bubble of her dreams, I am always tethered to the poetry of life in its myriad hues. I am a firm believer in the mystic Sufi poet Rumi’s saying: ‘Only from the heart can you touch the sky.’ The heart is the abode of our boundless possibilities, I strongly believe, and it is in the heart that poetry resides and takes shape in various manifestations.”

The vibrant spirit and the intense emotional presence of two other fellow poets and authors Ipsita Ganguli and Gopa Bhattacharjee in the book which substantiates her vision regarding the interconnectedness between the subtle nuances of poetry and the vicissitudes of life. Aptly subtitled as ‘A Bouquet of Bilingual Poetry’, this incisive collection of poems both in English and in Bengali, the vernacular language of the three poets, happens to be their second poetic venture after a four-year hiatus, following their first initiative in audio-visual format, the much-acclaimed poetry film titled ‘Kolkata Cocktail’ which had premiered in ICCR, Kolkata and was screened at various other venues in the city thereafter. After four winters at the same place, it was almost a feeling of déjà vu when the poets—Ipsita Ganguli, Gopa Bhattacharjee and Lopamudra Banerjee read out a couple of their bilingual poems and also conveyed slices of their perceptions on life, friendship and overall, their feminist consciousness through their verses.

Lopamudra quite aptly pointed out during her poetry reading: ‘As poets, we all walk on fire, unsheathed’, while Ipsita and Gopa’s poems added to the remaining four elements of their being.

The city of Kolkata remains, as always, the home and the cradle of culture, academics, fine arts and poetry as a fine, chiselled genre of spoken words. The spectacular line-up of distinguished Guests of Honour and panelists for the day, included Dr. Sanjukta Dasgupta, Fulbright scholar, former professor of the University of Calcutta and the president of IPPL, Prof. Amita Roy, seasoned translator and author, academician, Gopa Lahiri, senior and acclaimed poet, Sharmila Ray, acclaimed poet, scholar and academician, Laksmisree Banerjee, acclaimed poet, author and academician from Jamshedpur, Sreemati Mukherjee, noted scholar, author and professor, Sulagna Mukherjee, acclaimed author and translator, Tanmoy Chakraborty, noted Bengali poet and litterateur, Shuvayu Bhattacharjee, fimmmaker, musician and the director of ‘Kolkata Cocktail’ and Gautam De Sarkar, former Regional Director of ICCR Kolkata. To add icing on the cake, there was the presence of Raju Burman, Managing Director of Rupa and Co., Kolkata and Abizit Dutta, a celebrated photographer, who both have been pillars of support since the city had seen the magic of poetry on screen in ‘Kolkata Cocktail.’ The discussions during the event sometimes bordered on humourous and witty (ref. the anecdotes of Shuvayu Bhattacharjee regarding the making of ‘Kolkata Cocktail’), sometimes on serious and richly layered insights on the art of poetry and translation. To add to the charm of the evening, there was a series of auspicious chantings/Strotra path by the very dynamic singer and artist Aastame Sharmistha who lent her esoteric voice to inaugurate the book launch.

Together, the unique individual voices of the panelists and their cumulative analysis of the three poets’ works bore testimony not only to the intellectual, cerebral richness of the city, but also to the stream-of-consciousness act that poetry is, poetry that is not only a cerebral exercise, but also a metaphor of life itself, life in its continuum. Also, it is important to note that since the three poets chose to translate their original poetic works from English to Bengali, and vice versa, it was the discourse of language itself that became all-powerful and all-encompassing, language that can break open all shackles, all divisive barriers.

After the three poets read out their representative verses from the bilingual poetry collection, there was a distinguished panel of Bengali and English poets of the city, truly a versatile amalgamation of poetic minds, all of whose poems presented a kaleidoscope of human emotions, with ghazals, blank verses, free verses, modern poetry et al, where the personal became political, and also the other way round, almost unapologetically and fiercely.

The eclectic institution IPPL (Intercultural Poetry and Performance Library) being the host of this event where all these brilliant literary minds came together, the onus was on the emcees and moderators Rituparna Khan, Sanghita Sanyal and Monami Nag to bring out the best out of every honoured poet, panelist and speaker. They carried out their job with elan and thus, the evening of the launch of ‘MindScapes’ in the ICCR library was one that will remain etched in the memories of poetry connoisseurs for years to come.