Self-publishing, in an instant – The Hindu

‘Publish yourself’ recently assumed a different meaning, when visitors to a street book fair in Thiruvananthapuram turned contributors, their impromptu writings were turned into books as the event concluded.

Ninety-year-old Balakrishna Kurup never expected his jottings to become part of the book, which opened with a print run of 1,000 copies.

He found himself in the company of 80 others, most of them casual visitors, including school students and amateur writers. The group got published in Theruvu (‘Street’) which was conceived, written, designed, published and released on Manaveeyam Street, the cultural corridor of Kerala’s capital and a regular venue for folk art and street plays.

The entire publication happened over the course of four days, during the Street Book Fair organised by the city Corporation.

At one end, after all the book stalls, was a small stall with just a book and a pen on a table, and a laptop on another. Visitors were invited to write down their contributions — stories, poems, drawings or articles. The idea was to create a book from the street. The only condition was that the work should be spontaneous.

Behind the whole idea was Manaveeyam Theruvora Koottam (Manaveeyam Street Collective), which organises weekly cultural events.

“The book draws much from the character of Manaveeyam Street, where anyone can come and perform, without being judged. So, we thought the book should also be open to anyone. We have included most of the contributions that we got from the street. No particular subject was given to the visitors. But, there is a running thread of the street spirit that you can see in most of the works,” says T.D. Kuriyachan, who came up with the idea.

Lament, sarcasm

The book, therefore, carries everything from a lament for the saplings on the road suffering from climate change to an art sketch of the thoroughfare. There are personal reflections, of love, loss and pain. There is even a short sarcastic poem on literary circles turning into ‘mutual admiration clubs.’

As the visitors penned their thoughts, standing on the street, youth quickly worked on the layouts and designs for each page. The editing work was also taken up. The cover image by artist Sajitha Sankar is also street-inspired.

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