Saturday, 3 August 2013

Talking books in an industrial Coimbatore

COIMBATORE: Perceptions often hide more than they reveal about a place. Take the case of our city. The dominant image of Coimbatore is that of an industrial town with a grey skyline spotted with chimneys and all.
         Yes, textiles, small and big machines run the wheels of the city's economy, but there is much more to the city than just machines except that those activities rarely grab the headlines.
         Coimbatore's tryst with literature is one such less-known connection. The city is home to many well-known writers in Tamil and literary meetings are a regular feature here. Acclaimed critic and poet Sirpi Balasubramanian says such meetings organised here by various literary groups every month has played a pivotal role in the growth of Tamil literature.
              "In fact, participating in many literary meetings has helped me in many ways and shaped the writer in me," says Sirpi, who is one of the founders of the short-lived Vanambadi movement that left an indelible mark on Tamil literature. He adds that literary meetings held with regular periodicity has renewed interest in literature and acts as a catalytic agent for the growth of young writers and poets.
                   Tamil Nadu Ilakkiya Peravai, for instance, has been conducting literary meetings for more than two decades in the city. "The literary movement has conducted as many as 264 meetings in the past 21 years without missing even a month," Pulavar Aadhi alias Rasiannan (80), president of the Peravai. The Tamil scholar who retired as a teacher from a corporation school in the city in 1992 is the driving force behind the Peravai.
                  The meetings have been on classical Tamil texts such as Silapadikaram, Manimekalai, Purananuru, Tirukkural and Tolkappiyam to modern novels and poetry. "On an average 50 to 60 people attend our meetings and when eminent persons come up the attendance goes up to 200," says Pulavar Aadhi. "On an average, we have to spend Rs 5,000 to Rs 6,000 for a meeting and we pool in money to meet the expenses," he adds.
                Engineer and poet Muthamizh Virumbi (44), who conducts literary meetings under the banner of Nerunchi Ilakiya Muttram in Coimbatore, Thanjavur and Madurai, says an average of 60 to 80 people attend them on a regular basis. "The meetings have served as a platform for budding writers by helping them get rid of the fear of writing," says Virumbi, who has coordinated Muttram since 1993.
               According to him, literary meetings enhance knowledge sharing and many regular participants have now become poets and authors. "Poetry recital, discussions on foreign literature, book reviews and special address by eminent writers are all part of our meetings," Virumbi says.