Thimphu : With one handheld microphone and a bottle of water by her side, the 9th edition of Mountain Echoes Literary Festival saw American poet and TED speaker Sarah Kay talk about how this is her first visit to Bhutan. A few minutes into the session, she recited one of her most popular poems, B. “If I should have a daughter, instead of Mom, she’s gonna call me Point B… because that way she knows, no matter what happens, atleast she can always find her way to me.” began Sarah, setting the tone for her session.
A poet and an educator from New York, Sarah spoke about her experience of travelling to India, and how that was her first journey outside the States. She shared with the audience how overwhelmed she was with her experience of visiting the country, so much so that she couldn’t stop talking about it. She translated her experiences into a poem which she recited for the audience on the first day of the Festival.
In her session Considering Breakthrough: Connecting with Spoken Word Poetry, at the Royal University of Bhutan, she shared how as a poet she spends a lot of time obsessing about finding the “right words” which she thinks may not even have been invented yet. She moved on to perform two “love poems”, one which was a “Love Letter from a Toothbrush to the Bicycle Tire” and other that she wrote for an Indian girl.
Kay also spoke about her best friend, a strong, beautiful, compassionate woman, who was in an abusive relationship, before reciting “The Type”. She talked about how poetry is like “puzzle solving” to her. She recited a poem in memory of her late elementary school Principal who had a profound impact on her life. Most of us think of poetry as words on a page. But sometimes poetry comes to life when it is performed, when infused with emotion and nuance. Kay created that magic on stage with her art form on day one of the literary festival.
Sarah Kay is part of a movement to bring poetry to wider audiences. Her organisation Project VOICE brings poetry into classrooms and communities to help people better understand their society and themselves.
Set against the stunning backdrop of the Eastern Himalayas, Mountain Echoes literary festival is an initiative of the India Bhutan Foundation, in association with India’s leading literary agency, Siyahi. Presented by the Jaypee Group and powered by the Department of Tourism, Government of Rajasthan, the three-day festival is on till August 25, with engaging and insightful discussions being held across five locations in the city.