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

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

    Abstract: 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 poet:
    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

    Abstract: 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 poets:
    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

    Abstract: 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