Odisha's travelling poetry library comes to Mumbai

Updated: Jan 10, 2019, 09:59 IST | Dalreen Ramos | Mumbai

India's first and only travelling poetry library based out of Odisha is coming to Mumbai this Sunday with 500 titles

Schoolchildren gather by the van in Anantapur, Andhra Pradesh
Schoolchildren gather by the van in Anantapur, Andhra Pradesh

Falling in love with reading can be a bumpy ride. And we aren't even the ones on a pan-India tour, driving a minivan loaded with 500 books while writing that first line. But, Akshaya Bahibala and Satabdi M are doing exactly that at the moment. And they aren't complaining.

The two founded an independent bookstore and mobile library called Walking BookFairs in Bhubhaneswar, Odisha, in 2014. A year later, they embarked on their first cross-country tour called Read More India with nearly 4,000 fiction and non-fiction titles.

A poetry reading session in Goa
A poetry reading session in Goa

"But in the past couple of years, I noticed that poetry was becoming really popular among young people. And sadly, when it comes to bookstores, most will only have 20 to 30 titles," Bahibala says.

So, the two decided to plan another pan-India tour, Poems on the Road, where they would head to 20 states on a 10,000 km journey. Stops would be made in 30 cities where the public would be able to freely browse through the collection, read or buy. Using a sound system attached to the vehicle, there would also be poetry readings and an open mic.

Akshaya Bahibala and Satabdi M
Akshaya Bahibala and Satabdi M

On December 13 they left Bhubhaneswar, and have visited Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Kochi and Margao. This Sunday, Mumbaikars will be able to check out their vast collection.

"We spent a little over two months talking to people about the poetry they'd like to read. Seventy per cent of these had to be imported because world poetry doesn't have Indian editions, so they are expensive. But some copies can be picked up for as little as R25," Bahibala informs, en route to Kolhapur.

There is no language or age barrier for anyone who wants to perform. Bahibala recalls a recent session in Goa. "Two women read out French poetry, and later translated the same to English. There were performances in Telugu and Konkani as well. In Andhra Pradesh, we had around 100 schoolchildren perform and they were so excited. Reading is often restricted to books listed in the curriculum, and we hope to change that."

On January 13, 11 am onwards
At Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Deonar.
Email walkingbookfairs@gmail.com

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