The world wide web takeover is real, and it’s here to stay. The digital space — for all its pros and cons — is a veritable boon for those who learn how to navigate its endless terrains, and — even better — create a confluence point for a like-minded lot with a set of varied interests. It’s at the intersection of culture and technology that this particular story carves its niche; ‘The Alipore Post’ is a Bangalore-based project curating art, literature, poetry and music that has been keeping us going through many a rainy day — a ‘love letter to the Internet’, as curator Rohini Kejriwal puts it, that will make you feel like it was written for nobody but you.
The Alipore Post started off as a mailer with 70 subscribers on the first day itself. “I had just moved back to Calcutta after many years and out of the restlessness of being in that slow city and too much free time came The Alipore Post, which stemmed from a need to help people appreciate poetry in their life as grown ups”, says Rohini Kejriwal who discovered her love for curation when a poetry newsletter called Oddity and Light allowed her to curate for a week.
The name of the project comes from the name of the area that Rohini calls home in Calcutta. “The ‘Post’ is because I want people to feel like the email is addressed to them, bringing about the same feelings that receiving a letter does. Plus, I genuinely wish people would get back to writing letters”, she says.
Over the years, The Alipore Post’s organic growth has been visible across the length and breadth of social mediaーfrom a mere newsletter with random art, poetry, and links being sent to a mailer list of hundreds to a full-fledged community growing and interacting not just on multiple social media platforms but also in real life through events and workshops. “Going offline and enabling a community of like-minded art and poetry lovers to come together at events that were very DIY in their aesthetic has been a big change. From the early offline events which were pay-what-you-want and included workshops, impromptu art galleries and live music, the format has expanded to include all of the above but done at a much bigger scale.” One of Rohini’s favourite online events is The Alipore Post Secret Santa, an annual tradition that requires a lot of effort but is worth every minute she puts into organising it.
However, as a shy and private person, conducting offline events doesn’t come as naturally to Rohini but time has educated her about what such gatherings represent and how the community perceives it, “Through the past two years of organising events (big and small), I’ve learnt that vulnerability is a universal feeling, and it’s what connects us as human beings. So I’m not as terrified of meeting groups of strangers anymore because I know they get what I’m trying to do and are genuinely interested in being there.”
In fact, Rohini has very recently launched her own website that will serve as a digital repository of poetry and art submissions from her readers as well as a space for her to expand her curation process to interviews, photography etc. The Alipore Post website is a pet project that Rohini had been meaning to work on for the past two years. However, it was only after she realised that she’d been sitting on 200+ submissions that she had received in response to her call for entries on the theme ‘Objects’, that she decided to jump right in. “I don’t want to make it too heavy in content, and will post new content on a weekly basis. But the idea of having a website feels pretty amazing. I can’t wait to see how it grows.”
Curation is hardly formulaic, especially when it comes to the spheres that The Alipore Post is tied in with, most of the posts that Rohini has shared have been sporadically found online and immediately saved. “I spend hours going through the archives of other websites, looking for poems that speak honestly to the person I am. If I can relate to it and there’s a defined style or interesting subject, it usually works.”
As for art, Rohini admits she’s a sucker for illustrations, although she does occasionally share collages and digital art. “I need a picture to tell me a story, as they often do, and when I find an artwork connecting to the poem I’ve chosen, it’s a moment of epiphany and sheer joy for me.” And music – it’s the music that Rohini enjoys listening to when she is alone that goes on to become a part of the Alipore Post.
“Putting together the newsletter is also a very personal process because I tend to find poetry and links that are reflective of whatever it is I’m going through. So in a way, if I go through my old newsletters, I can remember what I was going through during that phase. Of course, it’s also totally random and coincidental sometimes”, she says while trying to further breakdown the curation process for us.
Besides curating The Alipore Post, Rohini also works a full-time job as the editor of Design Fabric, which allows her to explore the art and design scene in South Asia. The newsletter, which has been a consistent part of Rohini’s everyday schedule for the past three years, has now turned into a weekly one. “Making it [newsletter] a weekly edition has helped me prioritise it and approach it with more sincerity because the daily mails were truly overwhelming. And I wasn’t being as honest to myself as I should have. But in terms of growth, The Alipore Post has made my love for poetry grow manifold, as is the case with art.”
“I want to see the website grow and evolve into a space where poets, artists and photographers from around the world would be eager to have their work showcased. I’m also itching to start working on interviews with other curators/artists I admire and get into their mind. I barely get time to focus on my own writing (poetry and prose), photo series I’ve initiated, so I want to make time on weekends to do that”, she shares with us.
As for what the future holds, Rohini has some pretty ambitious plans. “I’d also love to see The Alipore Post Offline 3 happen before this year ends, so if anybody wants to invest in a day where people of all ages get to learn and appreciate art, poetry and music in a beatiful environment, do get in touch!”, she signs off.
If you want to submit your art/poetry/photography for the website, you can write to email@example.com
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