Wednesday, February 21, 2024

Day-1 of ‘The White Owl Literature Festival and Book Fair’

The two-day Literature Festival and Book Fair organized by The White Owl in partnership with Penguin and Cambridge University Press commenced on Friday at Zone Niathu Resort, Chumoukedima under the theme “Echoes of Narratives”. In one of its first mega venture, the festival features renowned Naga writers and literary figures in segments of fiction writing, storytelling and creative writing. It is a tribute to Northeast’s history, culture and geography.

With an envisioned aim to cater to all tastes of literacy, it brings a blend of bestselling and illustrious authors on board.
Speaking to Nagaland Post, the proprietor and director of the festival, Viketuno Iralu Rio, outlined the festival’s mission and when asked about bridging the gap between local and global literary influences, Rio emphasized the festival’s strategic curation, bringing together local and global authors in various sessions to foster cross-cultural exchange.

Insights into the selection process were provided, highlighting the involvement of a diverse programming team including representatives from Penguin and Cambridge, as well as a local advisory committee which will in broader context, will enrich the festival’s experience.

To a query on the measures to facilitate meaningful interactions between attendees and authors, Rio elaborated on the 30-minute per session, the Q&A sessions and book signings.

Regarding literacy promotion, Rio mentioned panels showcasing regional voices, workshops led by local authors, and storytelling sessions aimed at promoting literacy and storytelling in the region. On fostering greater appreciation for literature among younger generations, Rio emphasized the role of the White Owl Book Lounge in engaging young minds through workshops, seminars, and awareness campaigns prior to holding their first mega event since the launch of ‘The White Owl’.

Rio further disclosed ongoing literary initiatives and partnerships, such as the collaboration with Plaksha University in Mohali besides. In her closing remark, Rio highlighted sustainability efforts, including the use of environmentally friendly materials for merchandise and sessions, and partnerships with publishers like Penguin who embrace sustainable practices in book production for the literature festival.

Following the formal inaugural session, the literature festival commenced with a discussion on ‘Fiction Unbound’ moderated by Avinuo Kire, featuring Mamang Dai and Jahnavi Barua. The writers shared insights into their journeys as authors, touching on topics such as character development, the importance of inspiration, and the significance of minute details in storytelling.

Another session titled ‘Beyond the Margins,’ moderated by Theyiesinuo Keditsu, explored the complexities of Marginalization in Literature. Leknath Chhetri discussed the marginalization in Nepali literature, emphasizing the need for broader accessibility through translation. Anurag Basnet highlighted the role of storytelling in bridging cultural divides despite language barriers.

On the topic of Cultural Identity and Translation, Yogesh Maitreya emphasized on the importance of translating stories to ensure inclusivity, while Anurag Basnet stressed the universal themes connecting people through literature.
Another session included ‘Role of Literature in Political Writing’ moderated by Jim Wungramyao featuring Shelmi Sankhil, Vikas Kumar and Roluahpuia offering unique perspectives and experiences.

The discussion delved into the intersection of literature and political writing, focusing on the Northeast region of India. Speakers shared personal journeys and reflections on how their writing was influenced by socio-political contexts and personal experiences. Shelmi Sankhil highlighted how the COVID-19 pandemic prompted him to compile an anthology of short stories, driven by a sense of urgency and mortality.

Vikas Kumar discussed his book on nationalism in Northeast India, motivated by a desire to address under-researched narratives and challenge dominant perspectives. Roluahpuia highlighted the importance of oral narratives in Mizo national consciousness, illustrating how vernacular language and songs express and preserve cultural and political identities, especially during periods of censorship and counterinsurgency.

Overall, the discussion underscored the diverse ways in which literature and writing contribute to political discourse, identity formation, and historical memory in the Northeast region. An in-depth conversation with Easterine Kire moderated by associate professor DU, Dr. Veio Pou, was the highlight of the day, offering insights into Kire’s work and interactions with the audience. The day 1 saw participation from over 15 institutes and more than 1000 visitors from Nagaland and beyond, including attendees from Assam, Karnataka, Delhi, and Manipur.

The book fair showcased a vast collection of Naga-authored books, complemented by local entrepreneurs at the food court, and concluded with cultural performances from Colored Keys. (Staff Reporter)

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