Press Club Mumbai Culture Beat and 100 Thousand Poets for Change- March 2016- Mumbai, India

A Press Club Mumbai Culture Beat event in association with 100 Thousand Poets for Change, held at the Mumbai Press Club on March 22, 2016

When Sanjeev Khandekar and Jennifer Robertson met at the Mumbai Press Club for the Jugalbandi organised by Culture Beat on March 22, 2016, it was a true meeting of minds. The poets – Sanjeev writing in Marathi, and Jennifer in English — shared much in common, from their love of literature to their views on keeping poetry alive in a consumerist age.

“I was concerned about how regional languages were shrinking post 1992, with the onslaught of technology and globalisation in India,” said Sanjeev. “There was this new thing called the ‘market’. I call it ‘predatory capitalism’, the way it has been eating everything around us. Language is the last available public space and it is being taken away. It is an intimate space where you can breathe, where you can make love. Instead, we now have ‘development’ that is keeping the masses away and only making a few people richer.” Sanjeev also spoke of how quickly we were forgetting the past against the media-created onslaught of ‘this thing called breaking news’. “Poets must stand on the shoulders of history,” he observed.

Jennifer Robertson, who gave up a corporate career in order to write, spoke of how poetry for her was an ‘act of dissent’ and of how the personal was also political. ‘”Automatic writing intrigues me,” she said. “Most of my poems are first drafts, though I know editing is a very noble thing for poets to do.”

Jennifer was recently declared winner of The (Great) Indian Poetry Collective award, and her first book is expected shortly. Sanjeev is a poet, artist, photographer and activist, whose collections, including All I Wanna Do, Search Engine and Mutatis Mutandis have received attention from every quarter of Marathi readership. As senior journalist and political observer Kumar Ketkar, who was present on the occasion, had commented while writing about Sanjeev’s first show, Sanjeev believes that mediocrity is a ‘supreme crime in art as well as in politics’.

There was also some discussion about how, in contemporary times, the lines between the real and the surreal, reality and absurdity were often blurred.

The event, the first in the Jugalbandi series being planned, was organised by Anju Makhija and Menka Shivdasani in association with 100 Thousand Poets for Change.


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A point of view, by Sanjeev Khandekar:




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