Promoting literary expression in youth

The fifth edition of the Chennai Literary Festival (CLF) will return to the city between January 8 and 10.
Organisers address the press ahead of the fifth edition of the Chennai Literary Festival
Organisers address the press ahead of the fifth edition of the Chennai Literary Festival

Chennai

Started with an aim to encourage college students to engage with literature, the organisers said that over the years, they have seen an increasing number of youngsters taking the literary route to express themselves, despite the digital distractions.
Latha Rajan, former president and coordinator of the festival, said that the idea of starting such an initiative was derived from the fact that literature was taking a backseat among the youngsters. 
“Colleges these days have many events but few of these focus on literature. With reading habits diminishing due to many digital options, we decided to have a literary festival to engage the youngsters and we received an overwhelming response,” she said. 
As a run-up to CLF, various literary events were held on December 9 at Dr MGR-Janaki College of Arts & Science, where more than 1,500 students from several colleges from Chennai and Bengaluru participated. The fifth edition of the festival features a series of workshops and literary events, hosted in more than 30 city colleges. 
For this edition, the CLF has teamed up with the University of Madras, over 30 colleges from the city and suburban areas, and the Chennai Literary Association. The festival will be inaugurated by P Duraisamy, Vice Chancellor, University of Madras. 
Some of the workshops include ‘Literature as Cultural Studies’, ‘Literary Studies: Basics’, ‘Shakespeare in India’, as well as sessions on film and literature, green studies, digital literature, creative writing and theatre. 
Meenakumari, faculty, Anna Adarsh College for Women, said, “We have had oratorical contests in Tamil, which are hugely popular. We wanted to promote Tamil and English literature while giving a platform for the students. 
The events were designed to engage with the youngsters in an interesting manner. There is a lot of talent among the students and the number of participants has been increasing over the years,” said the professor. 
The idea, added Latha, is to encourage and celebrate young writers. She pointed out that an increasing number of youngsters are taking to the process of writing, to express themselves, their views and opinions. 
“The number of young voices in the literary scene are on the rise, as we have seen in our festival over the last few editions. We are also trying to encourage these young writers, and in the future plan a setup where their work can be published,” she explained. 
“The idea behind CLF is to make more and more people experience the pleasure of reading and add value to their lives,” said RJ Kumaravel, President, CLF. A spinoff from the festival has been the mushrooming of book clubs in various city colleges. 
Mangayarkarasi, faculty member, Ethiraj College for Women, said, “The book club in our college has been active and they have organised literature-related workshops for interested students.”

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