Keep yourself busy this week, with a book launch, theatre performance and a poetry session by Prakriti Foundation
What do a one-man play about Karl Marx, a children’s book about the environment and a poetry session by a Scottish poet have in common? Absolutely nothing. Unless you count the fact that they’re happening in the city in quick succession, all organised by The Prakriti Foundation. Starting with a session on Scottish poet Billy Letford’s poetry on May 26, the foundation will go on to host environmentalist-turned-author and playwright Dr Vithal Rajan – launching his book, Jungu: The Baiga Princess on May 28 and staging his play, Marx in Madras the next day.
That Letford, one of Scotland’s young talents, has come this far is thanks to the Commonwealth Poets United programme. Every year, the programme chooses one poet each from six countries—Canada, India, Jamaica, New Zealand, Nigeria and South Africa—to visit Scotland and vice versa, in order to establish relationships between artistes and communities. Their pick for India was Tamil author-poet Rajathi Salma, who tells us, “He (Letford) will be reading poems from his collection, Bevel.”
Trees or tribals?
While adults keep grappling with that chicken-and-egg conundrum, Rajan is setting out to teach the little ones the importance of both. About his new book, the author says, “The Baigas are a tribe in Madhya Pradesh, where I grew up. They are ancient people, with so much knowledge of the ways of the world —I wanted to show that to the kids.” The book, published by Zubaan Books, is about a city boy who encounters the Baigas when he goes to visit his forest-ranger uncle.
Communing with Marx
So, the man whose theories gave birth to two of the world’s biggest ‘isms’—communism and socialism —is in heaven and he now wants to visit earth. He wants to go to Soho, London, but a bureaucratic mistake lands him in Soho, New York. That was historian Howard Zinn’s original version. Rajan’s adaptation had him ending up in Hyderabad first. “Since I’m coming to Chennai now, I just tweaked the name a bit,” he says, laughing. “I wanted to show that his (Marx’s) ideas are still relevant,” adds Rajan.
Leford will read his poetry on May 26, at 6 pm at Amdavadi, while Marx in Madras will be staged at the same venue on May 29 at 6 pm. Rajan’s book, Jungu, The Baiga Princess will be launched on May 28 at Chamiers Cafe, at 6 pm.