Renga through a Lockdown with Marilyn Hacker and Karthika Naïr

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We were delighted to welcome Karthika Naïr and Marilyn Hacker back to the bookshop. During lockdown, Marilyn and Karthika began writing Renga — a collaborative form of Japanese poetry — to each other, building up a beautiful and compelling body of work that engages with both the micro and the macro of this unprecedented moment. This meeting was the first time that these close friends had been in the same room as each other for several months, and their readings ring with the sorrow of separation but also the joy of rediscovery. * Renga through a Lockdown: Shortly after France declared a full lockdown in March 2020, Marilyn Hacker invited Karthika Naïr to join her in creating a renga. Renga, literally “linked poem”, is the ancient Japanese form of collaborative poetry, which has evolved a little through the ages. Poets take turns to compose alternating tanka (5-7-5 and 7-7 syllabled-lines in the stanza) and each poet begins their opening line with word/s or idea/s from the preceding poem. Marilyn and Karthika’s renga are chronicles of their daily lives through the months of lockdown, triggered as much by immediate experiences in Paris as by echoes and concerns from friends and family in the US, Lebanon, India and elsewhere. And while both live in Paris, the distance between their homes (one in the 3rd arrondissement, the other in the 10th) - usually one of a few miles - seemed to multiply in this new world, with neighbourhoods transforming into distinct, new, terrain. If you’d like to see a video of some of these readings, keep an eye on the social media of the Bengaluru Poetry Festival. * Marilyn Hacker is the author of fourteen poetry collections, including Blazons ( 2019) and A Stranger’s Mirror(2015) , a book of essays, Unauthorized Voices (2010), a collaborative book, Diaspo/Renga, written with Deema K. Shehabi (2014) and seventeen books of translations of French and Francophone poets, most recently Samira Negrouche’s The Olive Trees’ Jazz (2020). She received the 2009 American PEN Award for poetry in translation, and the international Argana Prize for Poetry from the Beit as-Sh’ir/ House of Poetry in Morocco in 2011. She lives in Paris. Find more of Marilyn’s work here: https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poets/marilyn-hacker Karthika Naïr is the author of several books, including The Honey Hunter, illustrated by Joëlle Jolivet. She has helmed the scripts of several dance productions, such as the multiple-award-winning DESH (2011), Akram Khan’s dance solo. Until the Lions: Echoes from the Mahabharata, her reimagining in verse of the Mahabharata, won the 2015 Tata Literature Live! Award for Book of the Year (Fiction), and was highly commended at the 2016 Forward Prizes (UK). Naïr’s poetry has been widely published in anthologies and journals across the world, including Granta, Prairie Schooner, Poetry Magazine, Indian Literature, The Wolf, and The Bloodaxe Book of Contemporary Indian Poets. She is a 2012 Sangam House Fellow, a 2013 Toji Foundation Fellow and was awarded a Villa Marguerite Yourcenar Fellowship in 2015. Her latest book is the collaborative Over and Under Ground in Mumbai & Paris (2018), a travelogue in verse, written with Sampurna Chattarji, and illustrated by Joëlle Jolivet and Roshni Vyam. Find more of Karthika’s work here: https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poetrymagazine/poems/150393/remaindering-habits And here: https://www.danceumbrella.co.uk/2017/08/29/six-degrees-otherness-part-2/

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