Though Poet Rebecca Vedavathy was born and brought up in Bengaluru, Hyderabad is her favourite city. "This city permits the traveller, a comma of indecision," reads her poem, Pardesi, Pardesi. "In fact, I feel it is a town that pretends to be a city," she laughs, meaning the statement to be a compliment to its languid pace, uncharacteristic to any other city. "This city provides me with the perfect impetus to write," says the poet. Clearly she's made Hyderabad her home.
But what's happening in her university's backyard has the researcher, who studies Francophone Literatures at the English and Foreign University (EFLU) in Hyderabad, disturbed. Several activists, lawyers and writers were arrested across the country in connection with the Bhima-Koregaon case recently, including Telugu poet Varavara Rao. His son-in-law and EFLU Professor K Satyanarayana's house was raided as well. Vedavathy opines that though universities have always been thriving grounds for budding politicians, that culture seems to have died down in most varsities today. She also feels that the nationwide outrage these arrests have sparked could be an awakening of sorts for institutions across India.
Vedavathy has been longlisted for the Toto Creative Writing Awards in 2017 and 2018. Her work has been featured in Allegro Poetry Magazine, UK; Narrow Road Magazine, The Sunflower Collective and other journals
Keeping this in mind, the 26-year-old helped organise a protest which involved more than 600 students and professors as well. They are going to form a Joint Action Committee as well. "We want to keep this momentum going which is why we are also planning public lectures in the city, one of which we organised last Sunday," she informs us. Talking about the absurd questions the police asked Professor Satyanarayana about why he reads books on Marx and Mao, Vedavathy sternly says, "We are going to read what we read, no matter what." Boy, the city sure seems to have sparked a fire in her.
We wonder if that same fire has inspired her poetry on love and on cities like Bengaluru, Hyderabad and even Montréal. The latter popped up on her radar after she was awarded the prestigious Shastri Indo-Canadian Fellowship for her work pertaining to Haitian-Canadian literature. During that time, she served as a research intern at the Université du Québec, Montréal. She not only attended a few classes, she also gave talks at the university. She explains how the people of Haiti, a country that follows a combination of Christianity and Voodoo, tend to transform when they crossover or migrate to a capitalist society like Montréal, especially the women.
One of her favourite poets is Anne Saxton and she is currently reading Postcolonial Studies: A Materialist Critique by Benita Parry
A part-time poet, Vedavathy has also been a part of several poetry readings. The most recent reading she participated in was themed 'Poetry in Times of Dystopia'. "These events prove to be good testing grounds for poetry. By observing how people react to your poetry, you can gauge whether it works or not," she says.
To know more about her, click on facebook.com/rebecca.raja