Festival of Hope 1 / 25 May 2020

#chairpoetryverses (#versesofhope)

In this period of lockdown due to COVID-19, the Chair Poetry Evenings presents its special podcast series #chairpoetryverses, broadcasted on Facebook, twitter and Instagram.

This initiative brings together a series of video poems, videos songs composed by poets featuring poets, poems penned in times of Corona and Visual-Poetry artwork from around the globe that can provide us hope in times of crisis.

Day by Day by Day (Traveler) by Brian Turner

Video by:  Brian Turner

Brian Turner, the author of two poetry collections--Here, Bullet and Phantom Noise—and a memoir--My Life as a Foreign Country explores loves in times of corona through a video composed by him. 

'Besh o droM - Vaságy' -Written and directed by Márcio-André de Sousa Haz

Video by  Márcio-André de Sousa Haz :

Márcio-André de Sousa Haz is an award-winning filmmaker, poet, performer, and visual artist born in Rio de Janeiro and currently living in Budapest.

"Beijing Fiddle" poem by Sara F. Costa video collage

"Catedrais Contemporâneas" by Sara F. Costa

Sara F. Costa is a Portuguese writer and translator. She holds a master degree in mandarin and is currently living in Beijing working with the arts collective “Spittoon”.

Gemma Habibi by Robert Prosser

Robert Prosser, born 1983 in Alpbach, Tyrol, lives there and in Vienna. He studied Comparative Literature and Anthropology, travelled widly from Asia to Africa and is a Performer as well as an Writer. For more: www.robertprosser.at

'Observation' by Saima Afreen

Saima Afreen is an Indian poet who works as a journalist. She was awarded Villa Sarkia Writers Residency (Finland) for autumn 2017 where she completed the manuscript of her first poetry book Sin of Semantics. She's the recipient of Charles Wallace Fellowship in Creative Writing, the University of Kent, UK (2019).

Sarabjeet Garcha is a bilingual poet and the author of four books of poems, including A Clock in the Far Past (2018). Widely published, he has translated several American poets into Hindi, including W.S. Merwin and John Haines, and several Indian poets into English, including Mangalesh Dabral and Leeladhar Jagoori.

Poems by Sarabjeet Garcha

Black Compass

Aimless, he carries 

his darknesses

like a compass,


the home darkness

living inside a locked flat

in an abandoned building

the shoe darkness

his toes and insteps 

know so intimately

the matchbox darkness

that trapped jewel bugs

wore while steeped

in leaf dreams

the pocket darkness

in which hands dip as if 

in a night river’s whirlpool

the cinema darkness

drunk on the leftovers

of sound and colour,

the stars all gone.

He keeps


from home              to shoe 

          to matchbox

                                  to pocket 

          to cinema

but his darknesses weave

a night so long

that he, eyes wide open, 

keeps dreaming a dream 

in which the Exit sign 

never glows.


A darkness beats inside us all the time.

It’s not the love of light that’s our crime

but the ticking hope that if we approach 

an embrace, the equator will align 

itself to our hungry, outstretched arms

and our longing for latitudes will find

that one place where nothing is ever late 

as long as you remember what the chimes

of even stopped clocks made you feel about 

the light that loves you, the light that grinds

the darkness beating inside all the time.

Notes from the festival directors - Chair Poetry Evenings.

Sonnet Mondal

Verses in Times of Corona by Sonnet Mondal 


Where roads do not unfurl 

the need for limits

breathes through dry tears.

Where Solitude takes wing  

for the falling Sun

amnesia shrouds a generation.

Caged, wingless, a bird waits

for the last dusk

as a forsaken boatman 

rows for food in the twilight.


Stories of loneliness stay

warm inside my blanket, get

replaced without a sound.

Arms raised,  a leafless tree

prays for it’s death.

I wish I understood those bird-songs

struggling to break free from the branches.

Pandemic Symphony

The windswept mirages of April

are starving the city-memories.

Occasionally, they simmer

to bathe in the Nor'westers.

The balconies and windows

of my house bring in impulses -

Sounds of TV serials, some news debates,

a distant music, a raucous quarrel,

a mixed smell of dinner ...

Inside, the snoring of my dog plays

with the tireless squeaking of the ceiling fan.

A pen scratches on paper

while the songs of insects try 

to lift the mist 

settling lazily over the city.

On the horizon, permeating the night -

a symphony of the quiet.

The Nameless Man

He is scooping milk from the road

to moisten the drought inside.

In these white flooded paths,

there are no bends for discourses.

They empty kaleidoscopic dreams

into queues of migrants.

The uncombed gentleman who used to 

sit outside our house everyday

is missing without a mention in my diary. 

Nameless, defying the lockdown 

he has left a whole story unfinished.

Tushar Dhawal is considered to be an important voice in contemporary Hindi poetry and has authored two collections of poetry. He is one of the directors of Chair Poetry Evenings - Kolkata’s International Poetry festival and works as Commissioner of Income Tax at Kolkata.

Poem by Tushar Dhawal Singh


A bird has alighted

in the palm of my hand

Clasping a kite in her beak

and scratching her cloud-smeared wings

the dithering thing has come

from somewhere and is twittering

Her eyes enclose the kamini flower

that budded on the body

of a dead yesterday

Her body carries deep scars

from dried-up wounds

She came on and now nestles in my palm

as if she’s had faith in me

from who knows when

whereas I am a sheer stranger

Bearing countless cages

I flit about in my own cage

Thrusting my fingers through the bars

I grope about

Touching a cloud the long-dried bough

rings with consciousness and bursts into bloom

Peacocks break into dance

in my primal forest

The tired river in the veins

rises with a resounding rush

A city long drowned

in the surge of a turbulent ocean

languidly raises its head through the surface

Come perch on my shoulder

The world burdens

the crumbling plaster of my body

Onuses dangling like rattles

keep drumming against the thighs

Just today a grass has grown

in the dust that fell from the elbow

The sewn tongue groaned

with the desire to speak

When the time came

words felt lacking

I kept walking on constellations

amidst comets

and remained quiet



Be muffled in my cluster

Wander in my wilderness

Thunder in my explosion

Dance on my forehead

Twitter on my tongue

            so no words sprout

no line gets born   no colours mingle

such that this union of language and prana

            doesn’t bear a name


The Chair Poetry Evenings

‘Chair Poetry Evenings -Kolkata’s International Poetry Festival’ is an annual  international festival of poetry in the city of Kolkata featuring poets from India and Abroad. From poetry readings in several heritage places of Kolkata to the ending event on a cruise over river Ganges, Chair Poetry Evenings is considered to be one of the most important poetry festivals of Asia and is the biggest poetry event of India.