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Discussing literature over a cup of coffee
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Discussing literature over a cup of coffee

Post by on Wednesday, August 17, 2022

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With an intentto provide a platform to young writers, some literary enthusiasts from North Kashmir Bandipora took an initiative to start a literary forum- Coffee and Kalam.

The organization of young writers and poets, has been working since 2019 and has been organizing poetry symposiums, workshops and literary events to brush the skills of young writers. 

Here, language is not a barrier for the participants. Anyone proficient in English, Urdu, Kashmir can present their verses and recently an event was also done in Gurez’s Sheena language. The organization also organizes events in memory of legendary writers or poets.

Aqeel Mohiddin, president and founder of Coffee and Kalam said that in the literary workshops or gatherings that he used to attend, he would often find something missing. “I observed some weakness in those gatherings. I saw the budding writers are not given enough chances to present their ideas and also, they are not helped to improve their writing styles,” he said.

Based on the idea, he found the forum and thought a lot more can be done over a cup of coffee. 

Aqeel, who is himself a poet, goes by the pen name Aqeel Asra.He said that the ideas of youth are very rich but they don’t have anyone to guide them. “They don’t know the technicalities of writing poetry or prose. The budding writers have good ideas but they need grooming. So, we started organizing workshops for them,” he said.

Aqeel along with his team conducted workshops in various districts across Kashmir and various states of the country through online and offline mode. An event was also held in the DC office Bandipora.

Also, the organization held an international literary event which was attended by the poets, writers and participants from countries like Dubai, Singapore, Pakistan.

“We are touching every part of literature like prose, poetry, essays, short stories. There is a lot more to do. Apart from that, we invite various renowned writers and poets in the events who give lectures regarding writings which further brushes up the skills of youth,” he said. 

He feels that the new writers are showing interest in Kashmiri literature. In future, they are looking forward to conduct more symposiums, workshops and are also planning to start a magazine comprising the writings in Kashmiri, Urdu and English. 

He said, “With the magazine, we will gain international participation. This magazine will also be sent to the other parts of India. When the magazine will reach people outside Kashmir, many will be aware of our language. We need to promote our language because I believe we are lagging behind due to the system. We don’t pay much attention to our language.”

The team has 19 members including editors who check the writings of participants before presentation. “When a participant has to present his/her writing, our editors work with them to look for the errors so that it is presented in a better way before audiences,” he said.

29 years old, Aqeel has done Masters in Statistics and is a businessman by profession. From the beginning, he was interested in Urdu more than statistics. “I used to discuss poetry with friends. I believe you don’t become a poet by choice, a poet is born. You just have to wait for the time, it awakens in you,” he said. 

Vice president of the forum, Mohammad Arsalan Khan said that the organization gives a platform to the budding writers so that they can showcase their talent.

He said, “Writing down your ideas is not called poetry. It has some norms and boundaries. Here they learn what poetry actually is. Before joining Coffee and Kalam, I was also penning down my ideas but now I have seen improvement in my style of writing as well.”

He further said that till now the organization has trained 3 batches of students. 

“The beauty is you are not focused on any particular language. Here we welcome poets of Kashmiri, Urdu, English and Sheena language. Literature doesn’t see language, it is all about richness,” he said.

The forum was initially started for the young and budding writers but with time, the participation from elderly literary enthusiasts was seen and welcomed. 

“Female participation is very high in the workshops and events. The reason is the teachings of poetry are being passed to them and they are encouraged to present their ideas. They confidently take part and here is no one to judge them for their thoughts and ideas,” he said.  

He further said that one of the core members of the team is also a female and the forum is open for everyone. The forum has volunteer members in every district of Kashmir. 

Arsalan who goes by the pen name Arsalan Atish is also a civil engineering student. He writes actively and is in the phase of learning. He imbibed the quality from his uncle who was also a poet. “My grandmother also used to write. I believe I have imbibed the quality from them,” he added.

Talking about the response of people he said that the workshop done in Delhi received a huge response. “The Kashmiri students along with the locals of Delhi came to listen to us. The literature of Kashmir is being restricted to Kashmir only and there is a high need to spread it to other places. The poets don’t get many chances to take their writings to other places despite being talented, they are shy and get suppressed,” he said. 

He said that in the past years, poetry was dying and was lost somewhere but social media revived it. 

“Currently many people are joining this field. We have observed that writers come up with books but those books don’t get much response. The reason is the lack of quality in it. We should be able to survive our writings. We have a treasure of literature from legends in the past. How come those books are still famous? It's because they have that quality. One should not hurry up while writing a book,” he said.

In future, the team is also looking forward to having more state level workshops. “One workshop will be held in Chandigarh next year. Literature has sweetness. If we try to explore it, I don’t think there will be any bitterness in the world,” he said. 


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