At the exhibition launch of World War I’s Hidden Voices (6th December – CLICK HERE TO REGISTER) the Manchester actress Rani Moorthy will perform a dramatised reading of a powerful poem reflecting on the effects of the First World War from an Indian and colonised country perspective. She will be accompanied by musician Jaydev Mistry and also VJ projections by Kuljit ‘Kooj’ Chuhan. The poem is by Sarojini Naidu and is titled The Gift Of India, written in 1915 while the war was ravaging.
The exhibition features The Poppy Retake art installation by Kooj Chuhan, the launch event will be on Weds 6th December from 5.30pm and the performance and speakers begin at 6.30pm. More information at www.metaceptive.net/poppy-retake . The event is free but registration is strongly advised at www.hiddenvoicesww1.eventbrite.co.uk . #poppyretake
About Sarojini Naidu
Sarojini Naidu was a distinguished poet, renowned freedom fighter and one of the great orators of her time. She was famously known as Bharatiya Kokila (The Nightingale of India) and was a prolific poet with over three books of published poems, highly praised by Rabindranath Tagore. Sarojini Naidu was the first Indian woman to become the President of the Indian National Congress and the first woman to become the governor of a state in India.
In 1925, Sarojini Naidu presided over the annual session of Indian National Congress at Kanpur. Sarojini Naidu played a leading role during the Civil Disobedience Movement and was jailed along with Mahatma Gandhi and other leaders. In 1942, Sarojini Naidu was arrested during the “Quit India” movement and was jailed for 21 months with Gandhi. After Independence, Sarojini Naidu became the Governor of Uttar Pradesh. She was India’s first woman governor. Sarojini Naidu died in office on March 2 ,1949.
The Gift of India
by Sarojini Naidu (India, 1915)
Is there ought you need that my hands withhold,
Rich gifts of raiment or grain or gold?
Lo! I have flung to the East and the West
Priceless treasures torn from my breast,
And yielded the sons of my stricken womb
To the drum-beats of the duty, the sabers of doom.
Gathered like pearls in their alien graves
Silent they sleep by the Persian waves,
Scattered like shells on Egyptian sands,
They lie with pale brows and brave, broken hands,
they are strewn like blossoms mown down by chance
On the blood-brown meadows of Flanders and France
Can ye measure the grief of the tears I weep
Or compass the woe of the watch I keep?
Or the pride that thrills thro’ my heart’s despair
And the hope that comforts the anguish of prayer?
And the far sad glorious vision I see
Of the torn red banners of victory?
when the terror and the tumult of hate shall cease
And life be refashioned on anvils of peace,
And your love shall offer memorial thanks
To the comrades who fought on the dauntless ranks,
And you honour the deeds of the dauntless ones,
Remember the blood of my martyred sons!
India, Africa, the West Indies, colonialism and recruitment, impacts of war and our ongoing culture of war explored in two parallel exhibitions
The Poppy Retake (v3) by Kooj Chuhan // From the Shadows of War and Empire by Southern Voices // #poppyretake
On show 7th December 2017 – 24th February 2018
at Manchester Central Library (First Floor), St Peter’s Square, Manchester M2 5PD, UK // Opening times 9am-8pm Mon-Thurs and 9am-5pm Fri-Sat (Sunday closed) Tel. +44 (0)161 234 1983
OPENING NIGHT – 6th December 2017 5.30pm-7.30pm
including speakers Ahmed El-Hassan (Southern Voices) and Colette Williams (Mbari), plus live performance from Jaydev Mistry (music), Rani Moorthy (dramatised readings) and Kuljit ‘Kooj’ Chuhan (VJ projection) // First Floor exhibition from 5.30pm, then speakers and performance from 6.30pm on Ground Floor
Booking for this free event is strongly advised: www.hiddenvoicesww1.eventbrite.co.uk
MINI-CONFERENCE – 10th February 2018
thought-provoking talks, workshops, films and discussion – full details to be announced www.metaceptive.net/poppy-retake