Melding Voices Tour with Mamta Sagar

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Following their collaboration in southern India, Mark Gwynne Jones and Mamta Sagar brought their unique blend of poetry and performance to the UK with 7 dates in five cities: London, Derby, Bradford, Leicester & Nottingham and a performance at the Ledbury Poetry Festival. For extracts of their show, see Mamta performing ‘Rain‘, Mark with ‘Sometimes they sing…‘ and listen to an audio recording from the Ledbury Poetry Festival. The tour was produced by Renaissance One

Mamta Sagar is a poet, playwright and translator who writes in both Kannada and English. When publishing Mamta’s latest collection, ‘Hide & Seek‘, Kadalu Press (with offices in both the UK and India) saw something in Mark’s work that echoed themes and experiences expressed by Mamta, and they invited Mark to join Mamta at the literature festivals in Bangalore and Hyderabad. Thus a creative, cross cultural collaboration was born.

Sharing stories from their very different backgrounds, Mamta and Mark also draw on the experiences that started them writing to reveal shared narratives and common touchstones. Themes include: childhood, conflict, conformity and non-conformity, equality, feminism, crossing cultures, translation, altered states of consciousness and transcendence.

Furthering their collaboration, Mamta has translated Mark’s poem ‘In the light of this…’  into her native Kannada, a language of Karnataka state, and has performed the poem to audiences in Bangalore. Here is the poem and its translation.

In the light of this... with Kannada cropped

Audience feedback from the tour included: ‘Enjoyed the mixture of languages’ / ‘A fantastic surprise’ / ‘Mamta Sagar had some real warrior moments . The contrast of her voice with Mark Gwynne Jones worked really well.’ / ‘Excellent storytelling from Mark Gwynne Jones. He is a mesmerising performer.’ / ‘Loved the surreal moments’ /  ‘A blend of languages with the tabla made it feel truly international’ / ‘the range of music and poetry was fantastic’ / ‘One of the best performances I’ve seen’ / ‘The melodic mixing of voices.’ / ‘It was creatively exciting.’ / ‘The standards of performance were high’ / ‘Mark is an expert crafter of words, showing great control, avoiding cliché in the metaphors he produces.’ / ‘Mamta Sagar’s poetry is beautiful.’

Dr Corinne Fowler, University of Leicester, said of the show and masterclass: ‘The show is innovative in terms of literary form, interlingual experimentation and a novel presentation of poetry. The musicality of Kanada poetry is conveyed in ways that lift their words into a new imaginative realm. Mamta and Mark have an easy, informal style without sacrificing their authority as workshop leaders. Clearly knowledgeable about performance, Mamta and Mark shared their detailed knowledge clearly and encouraged participants to be playful in developing their own performance styles.’

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