Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Robert Flanagan — The Narrow Road to the Deep North, May 14, 2016

This reading was a double occasion, first, to read from the novel by Richard Flanagan, and second, to celebrate the tenth anniversary of our reading group's founding. The event was held in the new home of our dear hostess for the day and faithful member, Priya. Here is a picture of the eats that followed the reading:

The leading spirits at the beginning were Paul George ('Bobby') at whose bookshop, Just Fiction, the sessions used to be held; Indira Outcalt whose enthusiasm for literature kept it going with the participation of several keen Kochi readers of English literature; and the late Manjoo Menon, grand seigneur of matters cultural in Kochi, whose legacy lives on through the good works he started. Here is a news item from The Hindu newspaper about the early origins of the group by our own Priya:

Priya expressed her desire to 'be a part of this wonderful group' in a note she wrote to Joe on June 21, 2007, saying how excited she was from talking to the members. Later I wrote to her:
KRG is just a way to enjoy Litt with other folk who also enjoy; and to benefit from the enthusiasm others show when they come well-prepared. I added the 'diligent reader exercises' only so we could have fun by attempting something that stretches us (me too), and thus builds a few literary muscles we may never otherwise have known we had.

A rationale for our reading group is contained in an essay I wrote for Reading Week in June 2007 and sent to Priya (but never published):
When you read you think, when you think you derive your own illumination, and when you express it, you have the pleasure of your communication added to the writer's work, as a tribute.

We concluded the meeting with the hope the group will continue even though the composition must needs change over time. By recording the events in the blog we will capture our thoughts so they do not go poof! into the air and be forgotten, but will live as a reference for the future. And when the time comes Joe will give up authorship of the KRG blog to another willing soul! 

The Tenth Anniversary group

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

All-Shakespeare Poetry Session to Commemorate the 400th Death Anniversary – Apr 22, 2016

We had eight regular readers and a guest, Joe's son Reuben, who was visiting from USA. The first time we had an all-Shakespeare session was on May 9, 2009 at Talitha's suggestion:

Thommo, Reuben, KumKum, Zakia

 Sonnets and plays were the source of inspiration for readers at this 2016 event to commemorate the 400th death anniversary of William Shakespeare. The Bard is better known in India than in Britain according to a recent survey:

 Zakia, KumKum, Priya

From polyamory and anti-Semitism to the madrigal poetic-musical form and Original Pronunciation, the discussions were open-ended and contemporary. Which demonstrates how relevant Shakespeare continues to be 400 years after his death.

Thommo, Ammu, Shoba

 For a tour of Shakespeare's 400th anniversary being celebrated in Stratford-upon-Avon, consult BBC at

Joe & Gopa

 We missed Talitha, and five other readers who were absent for unavoidable reasons. But here we are at the end, smiling with our guest, Reuben, who took many of the pictures at this session. 

Priya, Thommo, KumKum, Reuben, Ammu, Gopa, Shoba

Friday, April 1, 2016

Commemorating Shakespeare's 400th Death Anniversary on Apr 23, 2016

Cobbe Portrait of William Shakespeare, ca. 1610, Artist unknown, oil on panel. Collection of Archbishop Charles Cobbe (1686–1765)

No poet has figured oftener on this blog than William Shakespeare (WS). His sonnets, his plays, and his long poems have been the subject of numerous readings at KRG.
Twice we have celebrated his birthday (Apr 23, 1564) with all-Shakespeare readings. And on his 450th birthday we sponsored a week-long celebration in Fort Kochi which is recorded in eight posts on this blog in April 2014. There were workshops in acting, a one-man Shakespeare play world premiere, excerpts from his plays by college performers, lectures, a puppet show and Elizabethan singers.

Each age will re-discover WS and find that resonance which makes him the Universal poet expressing the thoughts and sentiments of humankind everywhere. Poetry may undergo elemental changes from Symbolism to Post-modernism to Existential drift, but such are the varieties of truth a poet expressed four centuries ago in incomparable language that they will be resurrected and told four hundred years hence, with the same verve and novelty that they held for viewers at the Thames-side Globe Theatre in the sixteenth century.

Reconstructed Shakespeares Globe Theatre, London
This is a personal tribute to the poet who has gripped my imaginative life for over half a century. In this exploration I intend to look at the way Shakespeare treats death in his works, for it is the common end to which all humankind arrives after the journey of life. Nothing could be more appropriate on his 400th death anniversary.