I heard Mani Rao read her poetry three years ago in Bangalore and have been wanting to hear her again ever since. She is one of the few poets I have heard who actually performs poetry (as against reading it off the page really well).
At Anindita's reading in Bangalore recently, the electricity went off in the middle of a poem. Later, during the conversation, I asked Anindita if she knew all her poems well enough to recite them instead of read them. She had a slightly hunted look in her eye - as I also might have done if someone had put the question to me - and said she didn't. I told her of the time Mani and Mukta Sambrani read, and remembered (or I might have manufactured that memory; it certainly feels real) that when Mani was reading, the electricity went off.
It didn't stop her. She went right on with the poem, and apart from a few seconds of consternation, the audience was rapt.
Later, in the car, Mani and Jeet both said they knew each one of their poems really well. Mani said she has often given impromptu performances to friends, if they asked to listen to a poem.
I was amazed. I still am. I frequently know different versions of my poems, and worry that I might stall in the reciting and make a mish-mash of it.
In Mani's case, it's eight books worth of poems.
So all this is a long preamble to invite you all to Mani's reading from her new book, Ghostmasters, tomorrow at 6.30pm at Akshara Marredpally.
Saturday, 19 June, 6.30pm
Akshara Bookstores, Marredpally, Secunderabad.
Do come and let folks know.
Poems from Ghostmasters can be found here. Portions of her translations of the Gita can be found here.