Four women poets and illustrators from India and France use the Metro of Paris and the suburban railway of Mumbai as the subject for their book which they see as a blend of visuals and words of journeys.
French-Indian poet Karthika Nair, French illustrator Joelle Jolivet, poet-novelist Sampurna Chattarji and Gond artiste Roshni Vyam have joined hands for "Metro Lands", which is expected to be out in the next three-four months.
Chattarji said the idea for the book struck the two poets a year ago when she suggested about collaborating on some poetry project to Nair, who said that the subject could be their respective train systems.
But Nair said they were not thinking about coming up with a book at that time.
"It was more of a poetry adventure or an exercise because we both wanted to do something less solitary, move out of our usual spheres of interest and activities. And then, it was about almost two years ago that we started writing from February last year," she said.
So, about a year later, the French Embassy saw these poems, while they were preparing for Bonjour India 2017.
"And they were very interested to take this forward and asked us if we would like to do something with these poems.
"And we asked if we could collaborate with illustrators because we thought that it would be a nice compliment to the written words to have visuals and bring to life these little worlds we are talking about," Nair told PTI.
Chattarji said the form is intrinsic to the way the book and the text have been constructed as the last line of Nair's poem becomes the first line of her poem and vice versa.
"So, it's not a random assortment of poems about travelling in trains in Mumbai and Paris. It's a very interlinked sequence of poems," she said.
When the artistes were asked for a graphic representation of the poetry that compliments each other, Jolivet came to Mumbai to discover the train system and Vyam went to France to see the Paris Metro.
"Our vision is very different because I am making live sketches. So I use my live sketches like I did with Sampurna in the train and Roshni has a more imaginative vision of the Paris Metro. So, it's interesting to confront our very different styles," said Jolivet.
According to Vyam, it was a new experience for her as a Gond artiste.
"Karthika's poem was about Paris Metro and I was to illustrate it. So, it was a new experience for me being a Gond artiste as it is a traditional art form and now I'm going to experiment with my art," she said.
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