Chennai Mathematical Institute

CMI Arts Initiative

The objective of the CMI Arts Initiative is to provide a space for students, professionals and anybody else keenly interested in the humanities and arts to interact and learn from experts in these areas. The CMI Arts Initiative is coordinated by K. Srilata, K.V. Subrahmanyam, and Madhavan Mukund.

Online talks, 2021

Unfortunately, the CMI-Sangam House writers' residency programme is on hold for 2021. To keep the spirit of the programme alive, we have planned a series of monthly online talks and readings by writers. Details of the talks are given below. To receive a link to join the online talks, please write to


Talk details

  • Wednesday, 17 November, 2021, 18:30 IST
    Krupa Ge, Discussion on "What We Know About Her"

    Chennai-based writer Krupa Ge will talk about her debut novel "What We Know About Her", longlisted for the JCB literary prize, 2021.

    What We Know About Her (Synopsis)

    Yamuna is adrift. A long-term relationship has come to an end. Her mother and she are at loggerheads about their ancestral home in Chingleput, which she loves and lives in. Even her PhD on early twentieth-century music in Tamil Nadu seems to be going nowhere — until it leads her to an unexpected puzzle from the past.

    During her research, she comes to be fascinated by her enigmatic grandaunt, Lalitha, who rose to prominence as a Carnatic musician at a time when thirteen-year-old brides were the norm. And then she chances upon a letter written by her own grandmother to her grandfather that opens up another window into Lalitha's life. She wants to know more. Only, the more questions she asks, the closer her family draws its secrets. No one will talk to her about this long-dead ancestor's life or death.

    What lies beneath the stories they are willing to tell? Beyond the letters that Yamuna manages to purloin from her beloved grandfather's papers when she visits him in Banaras? What did this family do to Lalitha? Krupa Ge's debut novel is an absorbing tale of an angsty young woman who must unravel the secrets of her family before she can untangle her own life.

    About the speaker:
    Krupa Ge is a writer from Madras. She is the author of a novel, What We Know About Her (Context, 2021) and a narrative non-fiction book, Rivers Remember (Context, 2019). Her reportage and cultural writings have appeared in The Hindu, Firstpost and The New Indian Express, among other Indian and international publications over the last 13 years.

    She received a Laadli Award for her column on women in cinema, Ms. Representation in The New Indian Express for the year 2017. She was awarded the Jayanthi Residency in 2017, the Toto-Sangam Residency Fellowship in 2016 and was shortlisted for a Toto Prize in Creative Writing. She's currently dabbling in screenwriting.

    What We Know About Her, set in Madras, Chingleput and Benares is Krupa Ge's debut novel. It explores the ideas of inheritance, ambition and violence.

  • Tuesday, 19 October, 2021, 18:30 IST
    Priya Sarukkai, Revisioning Tagore's Gitanjali

    Priya Sarukkai Chabria will speak about her latest work Sing of Life: Revisioning Tagore's Gitanjali. Issues discussed will include the necessity of re-working the classics, ideas about creativity and translation in subcontinental practice and implications of wisdom and bhakti poetics in contemporary times. The significance of eco-poetics amidst climate breakdown and the relevance of Tagore's vision in the Gitanjali will also be investigated.

    About the speaker:
    Priya Sarukkai Chabria is an award-winning poet, translator and writer of nine books of poetry, speculative fiction, literary non-fiction, translation and, as editor, two poetry anthologies. Her books include Andal The Autobiography of a Goddess (translation), Sing of Life Revisioning Tagore's Gitanjali (poetry), Clone (speculative fiction) and Bombay/Mumbai: Immersions (non-fiction). Chabria has studied the Sanskrit rasa theory of aesthetic and Tamil Sangam (2-4BCE) poetics. She is Founding Editor of Poetry at Sangam: Her poems are translated into Indian and European languages.

  • Friday, 3 September, 2021, 16:00-18:00 IST
    Shloka Shankar, Poetry Is Everywhere: An Introduction to Found and Visual Poetry.

    About the workshop:

    Poetry Is Everywhere: An Introduction to Found and Visual Poetry is Shloka's signature workshop created during the pandemic in 2020. It introduces participants to these sometimes overlooked genres of experimental writing.

    What you will learn:

    • What is found poetry?
    • What characterizes a good found poem?
    • Types of found & visual poems
    • How to create poetry out of nothing & everything

    About the resource person:

    Shloka Shankar is a poet, editor, publisher, and self-taught visual artist from Bangalore, India. She enjoys experimenting with Japanese short-forms and myriad found poetry techniques alike. A Best of the Net nominee and award-winning haiku poet, her poems and artwork have appeared in over 200 online and print venues of repute. In addition, she has edited and co-edited six international poetry anthologies since 2016. Shloka is the Founding Editor of the literary & arts journal Sonic Boom and its imprint Yavanika Press. When she isn't poring over manuscripts, you can find her making abstract art, digital collages, or conducting poetry workshops. Website: Instagram: @shloks23

  • Wednesday, 18 August, 2021, 18:30 IST
    Carlos Eduardo de Magalhães, The Art of the Novel

    Carlos Eduardo de Magalhães will speak about what goes into the writing of a novel drawing on his own work, Petrolina, a novel in which changes in the world, and in relationships, come through music.

    About the speaker:

    Based in São Paulo, Carlos Eduardo de Magalhães has been a guest writer at The Ledig House, USA, at Sangam House, India and at the Chennai Mathematics Institute, India. Author of nine novels and two short story books, he has stories published in USA, India, Uruguay and Bulgaria. Since 2008 he has worked as editor.

  • Monday, 12 July, 2021, 18:30 IST
    Arshia Sattar, Translation as an Act of Reading: Valmiki's Ramayana

    What draws writers, scholars and readers to the Ramayana? What philosophical questions does this rich text throw up? How does reading and translating the Ramayana shape one's life and belief systems? Arshia Sattar speaks to K Srilata about her life's work — translating Valmiki's Ramayana and of working within the broad story traditions of the Indian sub-continent.

    About the speaker:
    Arshia Sattar works with myth, epic and the story traditions of the sub-continent, most especially with the Sanskrit Ramayana of Valmiki. Her abridged translation of that text has remained continuously in print since 1996. Her most recent publications include Maryada: Searching for Dharma in the Ramayana (Harper Collins) and The Mahabharata for Children (Juggernaut). She also writes on books and literature for various magazines and publications, in India and abroad.

  • Monday, 7 June, 2021, 18:30 IST
    Ranjit Hoskote, Hunchprose: Of Language and Languages
    (Watch Part 1, Part 2, )

    The recording was started late, so the video starts a bit abruptly and misses the speaker introduction. Also, due to power outages, the recording was interrupted during the Q&A session at the end. Hence the recording is in two parts and some portions of the Q&A with Ranjit are missing. Sorry for these technical glitches.

    Ranjit Hoskote will speak about and read from his latest collection of poems Hunchprose. Published by Penguin/ Hamish Hamilton, Hunchprose is Ranjit Hoskote's seventh collection of poetry in 30 years. Douglas Messerli, poet and founder of the Sun and Moon Press, says that this book is "a work of fire and magic… Hunchprose presents a world of absolute fear and wonderment at the very same moment." Poet and artist Imtiaz Dharker writes that, in Hunchprose, "Hoskote takes myths, troubled histories, the sounds of nature, the call of the market, and gathers them all up into one richly resonating space." And Forrest Gander, winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry, has this to say about it: "Ranjit Hoskote's deeply affecting new book of poems, Hunchprose, chronicles the passions of displaced men and women (and animals) digging through history for their own traces… history remembers what is sung by poets like Hoskote."

    About the speaker:
    Ranjit Hoskote's seven collections of poetry include Vanishing Acts: New & Selected Poems (Penguin, 2006), Central Time (Penguin/ Viking, 2014), Jonahwhale (Penguin/ Hamish Hamilton, 2018; published by Arc in the UK as The Atlas of Lost Beliefs, 2020, a Poetry Society Summer Recommendation) and Hunchprose (Penguin/ Hamish Hamilton, 2021). His translation of a celebrated 14th-century Kashmiri woman saint's poetry has appeared as I, Lalla: The Poems of Lal Ded (Penguin Classics, 2011). He is the editor of Dom Moraes: Selected Poems (Penguin Modern Classics, 2012). Hoskote has received the Sahitya Akademi Golden Jubilee Award, the Sahitya Akademi Translation Award, and the SH Raza Literature Award. He has been a Fellow of the International Writing Program (IWP), University of Iowa; writer-in-residence at Villa Waldberta, Munich, and the Polish Institute, Berlin; and researcher-in-residence at BAK/ basis voor actuele kunst, Utrecht. His poems have been translated into German, Hindi, Bangla, Irish, Marathi, Swedish, Spanish, and Arabic.

  • Monday, 12 April, 2021, 21:00 IST
    Ruth Padel, Beethoven: How to Think About the Making of an Artist

    Ruth Padel will read from her new collection Beethoven Variations — Poems on a Life. The poems describe Beethovan's early psychological and emotional shaping, the onset and effects of deafness, his ambivalent relations with his patrons, his failures in love, both with women as well as with Karl, the nephew he adopted as his son.

    About the speaker:
    Ruth Padel is an award-winning British poet with close ties to Greece, classical music and wildlife conservation, author of twelve acclaimed poetry collections and a wildlife novel set in India. Her non-fiction includes a book on tiger conservation and books on ancient Greek drama. She is Professor of Poetry at King's College London and Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature. Awards include First Prize in the National Poetry Competition and her poems have appeared in New York Review of Books, London Review of Books, New Yorker, Times Literary Supplement and Guardian. She grew up playing classical music on viola and piano; the first money she ever earned was 5 pounds for playing viola in Westminster Abbey. She lives in London and is currently writing a book on elephants. Her website is

  • Thursday, 18 March, 2021, 20:00 IST
    Anne Tannam and Fióna Bolger, Summing Up

    Anne Tannam and Fióna Bolger are both poets based in Ireland but with connections to India and Chennai. In their reading they will explore the themes of loss and gain, numbers and accounting, stasis and movement, through their words.

    About the speakers:
    Anne Tannam has published two poetry collections; Take This Life (WordOnTheStreet 2011) and Tides Shifting Across My Sitting Room Floor (Salmon Poetry 2017), with a third, Twenty-six Letters of a New Alphabet forthcoming with Salmon later this year. For more information on Anne's poetry, visit

    Fióna has had her poetry published in India, Ireland and the US. Her first collection, a compound of words came out with Yoda Press, Delhi in 2019. Her grimoire, The Geometry of Love Between the Elements was published by Poetry Bus Press in 2013. She works as a creative writing facilitator with workshops in Dublin, Delhi and Chennai, on Zoom! Her website is

  • Thursday, 18 February, 2021, 21:00 IST
    D W Gibson, The Changing Nature of Work, Globalization & Borders in the 21st Century

    At the end of the 20th Century, the spread of democracy and capitalism promised to bring increasing freedom and progress to the globalizing world. How did that turn out? After more than a decade of conducting interviews, DW Gibson will discuss what he has learned about the tensions between globalization and borders, between capitalism and the workers who keep it churning. He will also share brief excerpts from two of his books.

    About the speaker:
    DW Gibson is the author of the award-winning book The Edge Becomes the Center and Not Working. He shared a National Magazine Award in the U.S. for his work on "This Is the Story of One Block in Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn," for New York Magazine. His work has also appeared in Harper's, The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Nation and The Caravan.

Writers in residence

CMI is proud to host a writers' residency programme in cooperation with Sangam House. Under this programme, CMI supports international writers each year for a residency of 4–6 weeks.

There will be no fellowships awarded in 2020–2021 due to the CoViD-19 situation.

Previous awardees


  • Arun Kashalkar (Hindustani Vocal), 25 August, 2016, accompanied by Vishal Moghe and Mukul Kulkarni (vocal support), Praveen Karkare (Tabla) and Vyasmurti Katti (Harmonium).

  • M.V.N. Murthy (Hindustani Veena), 19 April, 2016, accompanied by Ravi Shankar R. (tabla).

  • Sanjay Subrahmanyan (Karnatik Vocal), 30 March, 2016, accompanied by S. Varadarajan (violin) and Thanjavur Ramadas (mridangam).

  • T. Girish (Karnatik Vocal), 29 February, 2016, accompanied by R.K. Sriram Kumar (violin) and K. Arun Prakash (mridangam).

  • Malavika Sarukkai (Bharata Natyam), 13 October, 2015.

  • T.M. Krishna (Karnatik Vocal), 9 October, 2015, accompanied by Akkarai Subhalakshmi (violin), N. Manoj Siva (mridangam), and B.S. Purushotham (kanjira).


Weekend programmes

CMI invites distinguished professionals and academicians from the arts and humanities to give a series of lectures and performances of about 15-20 hours, spread over two or three weekends, on a topic of their choice. We expect these lectures/ performances to be accessible to anyone with a passion to learn. CMI provides the space and the necessary infrastructure for this interaction to happen. Our hope is to reach interested people who will attend the lectures/performances and go back with a deeper understanding of the topics discussed.

We expect such an interaction to be an enriching experience, both for the selected participants and the teachers involved. In order to make the interaction more meaningful, however, we select at most 25 participants for each event.

Past Programmes

Art at CMI