Maraa organized City of Pieces, an urban festival of creative practices as part of their annual October Jam. City of Pieces was a nine day festival that marked the third anniversary of Theatre Jam, a monthly forum to trigger dialogues about art and media in the public space through practice, performance, and expression.
City Writes the creative writing workshop, organized as part of City of Pieces, was conducted at Page Turners, a bookshop on M G Road, on October 22, 2011.
And City Writes became the first workshop experiment conducted by Bangalore Writers Workshop.
I recently co-founded a literary magazine, Urban Confustions, a platform for women to feature their art, fiction, non-fiction and poetry that skimmed the theme of urban spaces and women, with the poet Shilpa Kameswaren. As an editor, I am always looking for places to expand what Urban Confustions can do to be more than just a magazine.
When Maraa organized Theater Jam 2011, I was excited to be offered the opportunity to conduct a writing workshop.
I had just returned to Bangalore after being out of India for 9 years. I wanted a chance to, for lack of a better word, play. Play creatively, and Bhumika, was just the person who could make that kind of desire into a reality. She, vivacious and passionate about literature – the classics, modern prose, (Tame reader, please note) and with a hard eye for careless grammar mistakes was the perfect match to my need to sensualize text, to be sentimental without being, uh, too sentimental.
We are both passionate about writing, sharing, and fostering a sense of community. So I, with my occasional misuses of commas, and her hard-wiring for smooth, flawless writing, made us the choicest of partners to conduct writing workshops. We decided to call ourselves Bangalore Writers Workshop.
When the City Writes opportunity knocked our door, we were eager to be part of a festival that celebrated various practicing arts. We were casual but bright-eyed about it. It seemed like a good place to talk about writing and especially our urban existence. Our times are more ironic, cruel, humorous, baffling, and extraordinary then ever before. These are the best times to document creatively our influences and write about what impacts the world, our country, and our city.
On the day of the workshop we were floored. That sneaking suspicion we had about the tiny literary undercurrent in Bangalore?
It was there. Not merely as an undercurrent but more like a solid wave.
We had over twenty enthusiastic writers who wanted to sit down for an afternoon, play with text, talk about the issues of being a writer and try to come to a consensus on what being a writer meant to them.
So in three hours, we wrote character sketches with imagined characters, we introspected creatively on why we wrote, discussed conscious craft choices in narratives, and wrote sensually.
Can we cover the act of writing in three hours?
What we can do is initiate a process.
A process of digging and re-imagining, getting one’s nails dirty, finding a community, of reading and discussing while straying out of our comfort zones.
To write is an act of creation; your words have created something that did not exist before. Some may laugh at it, some may hate it, and some may fall in love with it. But what remains is an eternal change in our world – a few words strung together in the hope to find meaning.
The Bangalore Writers Workshop wanted to welcome creation, discussion, and writers.
I think we have begun.
And let us be very clear, we are absolutely ecstatic about it.