Kannada poet Mamta G Sagar wins international literature prize 

The awards ceremony was held in Nigeria last week.
Last Updated : 12 April 2024, 00:32 IST
Last Updated : 12 April 2024, 00:32 IST

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Kannada poet, playwright and academic, Mamta G Sagar, was awarded the World Literary Prize for her contribution to literature by the World Organization of Writers (WOW) on April 6. 

The ceremony was held as a part of the first Congress of WOW in Abuja, Nigeria. 

“The process started eight months back, when WOW first approached me to apply for the prize,” says Mamta, a facilitator at Srishti Manipal Institute of Art, Design, and Technology. “I am proud this award has been given for Kannada poetry,” she adds. 

The three-day Congress was held at the Association of Nigerian Authors (ANA) Writers Village, a community started by celebrated Nigerian author Chinua Achebe in 1981. The event was a collaboration between ANA and Pan African Writers Association (PAWA).

With anthologies like ‘Kaada Navilina Hejje’ (published in 1992)
and ‘Nadiya Neerina Teva’ (1999), the Bengaluru-based writer seeks to
address issues related to gender, politics and human rights violations.

“When my first anthology (‘Kaada Navilina Hejje’) came out, it was criticised for not being feminine enough. One critic said, it had no ‘fragrance of flowers or jingling of bangles’ just because it was written by a woman,” she recalls. 

“It was published at a time when most women’s poetry was about sexualisation of the body. But I didn’t want to conform,” she notes.

Mamta, whose poetry can be found on the walls of the Cubbon Park metro station, believes that ‘poetry should walk the streets’. “It does not belong in an air conditioned room,” she shares.

Hosting poetry readings

In recent years, Mamta’s focus has been on performance poetry. Kaavya Sanje, a community of poets founded by her, has been hosting poetry reading events across public spaces in Bengaluru and online with local, national and international poets. 

In 2018, she produced a set of poetry films, ‘Interversions 1’, ‘Interversions 2’ and ‘Interversions 3’, with verses drawn from her works. 

A translator herself, she states, “Increasing translations will help boost the readership and following of Indian language poetry. I urge the up-and-coming writers to experiment with their own languages.” 

She is currently collaborating with poets from Kaavya Sanje to bring out a compilation of her poetry, which has not been published before. 

Published 12 April 2024, 00:32 IST

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