DHAKA LIT FEST : Festival gets into gear after slow first day

Cultural Correspondent
Poets Aslam Sunny, left, Jahanara Jaani recite poems at Dhaka Lit Fest. — Snigdha Zaman.

Poets Aslam Sunny, left, Jahanara Jaani recite poems at Dhaka Lit Fest. — Snigdha Zaman.

After a slow, leisurely first day, Dhaka Lit Fest got into gear on Friday as people started coming out of home and into the historic grounds of Bangla Academy for the fifth edition of the festival — earlier known as Hay Festival Dhaka.
The three-day event got off to a tense start on Thursday amid tight security measures because of a daylong dawn-to-dusk shutdown enforced by Jamaat-e-Islami, protesting at a Supreme Court verdict that upheld the death penalty of its leader Ali Ahsan Muhammad Mojaheed for his crimes during the war of independence.
Unlike the previous day, a good number of kids attended the festival on Friday, most of them students wearing school uniforms and mostly attending the workshops on poetry, storytelling and drawing and sketching techniques.
The day began with a kirtan presentation by noted singer Nashid Kamal, followed by five plenary sessions taking place simultaneously in all the five venues.
There were several rounds of sessions throughout the day, as well as readings by poets, storytelling performances, book launches, musical performances and demonstrations of oral traditions with words and music.
Notably, there was a session on a special issue of the acclaimed international literary journal Wasafiri, dedicated to Bangladeshi writing and guest-edited by Bangladeshi English-language author K Anis Ahmed and poet Ahsan Akbar. Besides the two, Susheila Nasta, editor of Wasafiri, also attended the session.
They talked about the nature of the international publishing industry and how writers from Bangladesh and other non-European countries are faring in that.
Among other important plenary sessions on the second day were ‘Palestine,’ ‘Coffee Tables: Do They Need Books?,’ ‘Wow Bites,’ ‘Library of Bangladesh,’ ‘Folklores and Folk Literature,’ and ‘Never a Dull De.’
‘Coming to the Lit Fest is like living on the pages of books. There is so much to see and enjoy and learn. It’s totally cool,’ said Nadira Sultana Ava, a teacher of Chittagong Grammar School in Dhaka, who escorted a group of students to the festival on Friday.

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