Review: Prathama America Telugu Saahitee Sadassu, Atlanta, May , 23-24, 1998

V. Chowdary Jampala (cjampala@quark.dayton.net)
Wed, 27 May 1998 23:29:29 -0400 (EDT)


	I attended the prathama amerikaa telugu saahitee sadassu (First
Telugu Literary Symposium) held in Atlanta on May 23 and 24 (Memorial Day
Weekend). The symposium was sponsored by the Houston based Vanguri
Foundation of America.

	The symposium, the first of its kind in US, was attended by many
Telugu literary enthusiasts across the country as well as some guests from
overseas. All said, the attendance was less than 100. There are many
netters attending the symposium. This was the first time I met many of
these people, a very pleasant experience. (As an added bonus, many of us 
got to spend a lot of time with professor velchEru naaraayaNa raavu whose
views on a lot of linguistic, historic, sociologic and anthropologic
issues were very stimulating; I also managed to sit in during a video
interview of avasaraala anasooyaadEvi, the legendary singer of Telugu
folk songs).

	After very brief opening remarks in his inimical witty style by
Dr. Vanguri Chittenraju, founder of Vanguri Foundation (for those of you
who don't know it, vangoori is an accomplished humorist writing plays and
satires, and a good actor), Dr. Pemmaraju Venugopala Rao chaired the
symposium and conducted the proceedings with a tight (some said, very
tight) reins.

	Several books published by vangoori foundation were inaugurated.
These included amerikaa telugu kavita and the fifth volume of amerikaa
telugu kathaanika, both edited (and typeset) by dr. pemaaraaju. His
indefatigable energy deserves accolades.

	'Metamorphosis', a compilation of Telugu writings by Veluri
Venkateswara Rao, was inaugurated by Prof Velcheru, who also wrote the
preface. As most of you know, Dr. Veluri is probably the finest Telugu
writer in US, and there are several pieces in this anthology  that I can 
offer as proof. If further proof is needed, look at his piece on
dEvulapalli in the latest issue of taanaa_patrika, or the essay he read at
this symposium, 'maa telugu maasTaaru', which received a resounding
ovation.

	The other book to be inaugurated was a very special one.
'Tiruppaavai' of Andal with 32 excellent page sized full color pictures by
the legendary 'baapu'. The book also includes introductions by muLLapooDi
venkaTaramaNa and indraganTi Sreekaanta Sarma (who inaugurated this book),
and contains a Telugu translation by Sri Lakshmana Yateendrulu and an
English translation by Dr. Pemmaraaju Venugopala Rao. This book is
available for $35 from Vanguri Foundation. Only 500 copies of this book
were published, and this is sure to become a collector's item soon.

	Three audio cassettes by srimathi anasooyaadEvi were also
inaugurated.

	Dr. Vecheru Narayana Rao gave the keynote address. Dr. velchEru is
well known in AP for his seminal thesis, telugulO kavitaa viplavaala
svaroopam, and all over the world for his contributions to the South Asian
studies, and is the chairman of the Department of South Asian studies at
University of Wisconsin, Madison. He gave a very thought provoking lecture
about the need for preserving Telugu as a language, and the contribution
that immigrants can make in developing Telugu further.

	Indraganti Sreekaanta Sarma, poet, critic, and current editor of
Andhra Prabha weekly, was the chief guest. In his talk, he presented an
overview of the current Telugu literature scene. His conclusions: Telugu
short story is premier form of current literature. Poetry is locked into
various isms with jayaprabha and Kondepudi nirmala writing fine poetry.
There were four interesting Telugu novels in the last two years: khaakee
bratukulu by spartacus, rEgaDi vittulu by chandralata, nEnoo-cheekaTee by
kaaSeebhaTla vEnugOpaal, and chelapatee jindaabaad by raayasam
venkaTraamayya (I have a quibble with the last selection). He also talked
about 'hampee nunci harappaa daaka', the autobiography of late  tirumala
raamachandra. Several other speakers also mentioned this book published by
the appaajOsyula and vishNubhoTla foundation. This books is available in
US.

	Other interesting speeches included a short, but interesting
and hard hitting speech by the film writer aakeLLa (Svaatimutyam,
Srutilayalu etc). Aravinda Pillalamarri reviewed -in Telugu (for those
that don't know, aravinda grew up in US), lata's gaalipaDagaloo,
neeTibuDagaloo, and discussed in depth the implications of a female writer
writing about prostitutes in Telugu in the early 60s. Dr. pooDipeddi SEshu
Sarma presented their efforts in Atlanta to teach Telugu to children at
'mana baDi'. Dr. akkiraaju ramaapatiraavu (manjuSree) spoke about Telugu
novel, and kOvela sampatkumaaraachaarya spoke about the traditional Telugu
poetry. Smt. anasooyadEvi talked about humor in telugu folk songs.

	There were many other short lectures and readings of poetry and
short stories by many of the attendees. I already mentioned vEloori's
reading of 'maa telugu maasTaaru'. Palana's rendering of his poem,
'chellee Sreelacchee' also received a tremendous ovation. Vangoori
chiTTenraaju's dantavEDaantam, a satirical short story, was also greeted
warmly.

	The first day ended with a spirited symposium chaired by Dr.
vEmoori venkaTESvararaavu on computers and Telugu language. Prasad
Chodavarapu made a presentation about rangavalli and mEghasandESam
softwares and the need to standardize the Telugu keyboard, and character
usage. Viswanath Vadlamaani also presented on the same topic. Dr. KV
Baparao made a presentation on Optical Character Recognition (OCR)
software for Telugu. Palana talked about the development of a Telugu
database and indexing. A spirited discussion took place which continued
long after the official day ended. Dr. Vemuri announced that he can fund a
grant to further development of any of these products.

	The second day was remarkable for the session on the future of
Telugu language. Dr. Gavarasana Satyannaaraayana from Boston presented the
results of a survey he conducted about future of Telugu language in US. A
resolution was introduced by Dr. gAvarasaana to work towards the
establishment of a Chair for Telugu studies in one of the US universities.
The resolution was adopted by the sadassu and a committee was formed under
Dr. Velcheru's chairmanship to promote the idea further.

	I forgot to mention the book fair where several books by the
attendees were on display and were available for purchase. My impression,
however, is that the book sales were very sluggish.

	There were  a few presentations that were not upto par. There were
some things that could have been done differently and done better. The
organizers, to their credit, were looking for feedback. I hope that when
such meetings are held in future, lessons learned from this sadassu are
put to good use.

	My thanks to Drs. Vanguri Chittenraaju, Pemmaraaju Venugopala 
Raavu, Telugu Association of Metro Atlanta, and all the volunteers. It was
a fun filled two days for me and many of the attendees. I wish the rest 
of you were there too.

	Regards		-- V. Chowdary Jampala