The eighth edition of the Goa Arts and Literature Festival is scheduled to be held from December 7 to December 10. NT BUZZ speaks to its the people involved to gauge how this journey has been
Janice Savina Rodrigues|NT BUZZ
Way back in 2000’s a group of like-minded people felt a void in the literature space in Goa. Though they knew that the state had some really good writers in the past and the present, they still felt that somehow this treasure trove of literature was barely accessible to the general public. So, they invested their time and efforts and with guidance from Victor Rangel Ribeiro, the Goa Writers’ Group was formed somewhere in the middle of the decade. These writers though a close knit group wanted to spread the reading and writing culture; they put their heads together and after long chats and many cups of tea, an idea was born. That idea was then christened the ‘Goa Arts and Literature Festival’ which took flight at the turn of the decade in 2010.
Eight years hence, the festival has grown in leaps and bounds. What started as an intimate, rather small group of, mainly Goan, writers meeting at the International Centre Goa over a weekend, has grown into a festival of sorts, attracting some well known names in the literature world, nationally and internationally. “In 2010 we were a very small intimate, special and close gathering and now we have grown into a fairly larger, though still intimate and serious one. GALF has a deliberation to move the focus from other aspects of a festival to a serious focus on books, unlike many literature festivals. It is entirely volunteer-driven with support from the Goa Writers Group,” says curator Vivek Menezes.
Co-curator Damodar Mauzo is one of the literary names Goans are rather familiar with, and it is this familiarity that has brought some rather unknown and earlier unheard names to the fore. “Since I am a writer, I had a lot of connections with other writers and we have been able to rope in some really good talents, thus when we started we were very small and now we have built connections through all the writers we know, thus helping in improving our literature over time,” says Mauzo.
Curiously the festival is named an ‘arts and literature festival’ however, there is immense spotlight given to the latter, the ‘arts’ is not really looked into. When asked about the name Mauzo says: “Initially, when we started the festival, we were celebrating the centenary year of Bakibab Borkar and very few know this, but since I have close ties with his family, I knew of his interest in the arts as much as he was a crusader for literature; I had seen a painting of his wife once. At that time we thought it would be nice to have a festival that explored the arts as well as literature, though over the years we have focused more on the literature, and the name stuck.” He does point out that there is still an art aspect to the festival. “Every year we have a poster with artwork designed by a prominent artist from the state. This year it is Hanuman Kambli who has done the official artwork of GALF 2017,” he adds.
Apart from this there will be a performance by the group called IMAYA which will present a play ‘Two Fathers’, that revolves around two stalwarts – Mahatma Gandhi and Albert Einstein. There are also two exhibitions on display: Island Worlds…of land and sea – A photographic exhibition on the Andaman & Nicobar Islands specially produced on silk by Pankaj Sekhsaria; and Silent Voices – a collaboration of six artists. These will also be held at ICG.
The IGC has been more than just a venue, it has been the festival’s birthplace and has been associated with it since its inception. Speaking about its involvement in the festival, the director of the ICG, Pushkar says that this year is deemed to be one of the most successful ones. “We are very excited to have the Festival here at ICG and this year there are some very well known names coming to be a part of the festival from India and overseas. This year we have a good mix of gender studies, of politics, history and current affairs, we have Ramchandra Guha who will deliver the keynote address,” says Pushkar.
Book launches, public discourses, readings and other discussions will dominate the festival. The focus of this year’s festival will be the gender divide and women’s literature. “We have outstanding new voices that generally don’t get heard. Every year there is a concept that is of value for Goa and this year it is the question of gender and women writers. We have some fabulous writers from regional and English literature from Bama, Volga, Tishani Doshi, Arshia Sattar, Mini Krishnan, Rakhshanda Jalil, Sumana Roy among others; the line up is highly impressive,” says Vivek.
(GALF will begin from December 8 to December 10 and will be held at the ICG. The inaugural ceremony will be held at the Maquinez Palace Complex tomorrow evening. GALF 2017 is free and open to all. To register in advance visit www.goaartlitfest.com.)