As mythical and magical as a preacher in full force Anne Waldman started off the JLF with words of caution in this troubled world where chaos and darkness looms but for the salving power of the creative poetic word. She took to the stage like a shaman and the words of her poem "Anthropocene Blues" spoken with fervour and passion captured the thousands who were listening, caused goosebumps on our bodies, with collective approval of the importantance of creative arts to deal with this world of post truths and populism.She is no fan of Donald Trump.
Gulzar, renowned poet, paid tribute to the massive effect the Festival had on the young and urged them to stay connected with their roots and literature. The place was packed, the sun shone and once more after much fanfare at the entrance JLF was off to a massively good start.
David Hare is probably one of the best known Britsh Playwrights and he answered the many questions of his interviewer with wit and humour. He wrote his memoir "Blue Touch Paper" almost from a sense of bewilderment of what brought him to playwriting. There is no formula, he doesnt really know how plays will be perceived, by audiences when he writes them which is of course the litmus test of success. He likes to be ahead of his time and never shies away from the controversial so he has dealt with 9/11, the Invasion of Iraq and the GFC of 2008. He loves the challenge of writing scenes, particularly where they are to support streams of consciousness as he has done with a number of his plays.He is particularly fond of putting women centre stage. The problem, he notes, is finding male actors who can play the subservient role.
Sadhguru has a massive following. The naughty and dreamy child of a physician from Mysore he was always getting into trouble at school for not " being there" and just taking himself off physically and mentally to places he would rather be. There were some fascinating insights into this yogi's young life as a motorcycle afectionado and a construction entrepreneur. Finally somewhere on Chamudi Hill of Mysore he had a transformation and felt he had hit a gold mine - he didnt want to miss the opportunity of making it better for the world. He talked engagingly about how most suffering comes from within and therefore it is imperative for the short time we are on this planet to find ways to make our mind work for us. Touching our own inner intelligence will help us find our place in the cosmos.
Paul Beatty is a big bloke with a booming voice - and he has written this crazy, irreverent and humorous book about a hood somewhere in America where the chief character carries on a strange existence including trying to reintroduce slavery. He is the first American to win the Booker Prize, no small honour and he was unprepared but happy to have done so, as the book is unconventional. Call it satire, call it hypocritical and humorous, he was clearly not going to go along with labels as they mean different things to different people and asked the audience how they perceived his book.
There was a session called the Legacy of the Left - we are all wondering what has happened, is it still alive, will it have to reinvent itself, how can it now sell itself to the people in the rise of populism from Trump to Marin le Pen and other movements world wide. There was consensus it was still alive but needed much resuscitation and then there was a Power Cut ! Ah welcome to India - I thought - I could not have visited without experiencing at least one.
The day ended with the beautiful and diverse poetry of among others Anne Waldman, Ruth Padel,Vladimir from St Lucia, Toshani Ghosh and her infatuation with Patrick Swayze, and the truly impressive Kate Tempest from the UK who is a master of the spoken word, spoken without hesitation, recited with passion and purpose, and from one so very young.