“Most of all, I enjoy the company of writers who have become my friends, to be able to talk to them about literature but within the familiar setting of trust and camaraderie, over many bottles of good cheer and outside any institutional or exhibitionist glare.”
— Arjun Rajendran
The Quarantine Train is a writers’ collective dedicated to the preservation, creation, critique, and appreciation of poetry from around the world. The mission is to
- Build a cohort of like-minded albeit diverse poets and find unique, innovative, and path-breaking ways to better craft
- Create regular virtual and offline platforms for sustained interaction and learning among poets and poetry enthusiasts
- Ideate and execute one-of-its-kind artiste recognition initiatives such as awards for poets and other creatives
- Engage with doyens of the craft, allied arts, and artistes consistently so as to build vibrant intellectual exchange
- Sustain a movement that every member can truly make their own
- Make belonging possible by simply encouraging being
What began as a moment to offer solidarity to poets during the time of quarantine quickly became a movement devoted and fully committed to all things poetry. This is movement in the times of stagnation, camaraderie in the time of social distancing, the unmasking of the superficial in order to unearth the makings of a true artiste.
The Quarantine Train began its journey during the COVID-19 pandemic in April 2020. What began as a virtual gathering for appreciation of celebrated poets has since witnessed a movement, full speed ahead, as poets and writing enthusiasts from across the world hopped onboard.
The Quarantine Train is on an unprecedented journey of camaraderie and experimentation. The Quarantine Train Foundation is registered as a non-profit. Within a year of the first whistle, over 70 members have joined these trail-blazing tracks that imprint the poetic minds with delight and discovery.
BEHIND THE NAME
The name of the collective is inspired from the lines of its founder-curator, Arjun Rajendran, in a poem titled “I Don’t Do Gifts”:
I merely author
antiquated trains that I hope
will romance against
your electric quarantines,
the nihilism you saw
in Dali’s The Persistence of Memory.
The name captures the contradictions of the context in which this collective was formed. Quarantined to the confines and comforts of their homes, the participants encounter the movement and momentum of these workshops in each session. Apart from the oxymoronic quality of the phrase, the word ‘train’ is also anagrammatically embedded in ‘quarantine’.
Each participant joins from the confines and privilege of their own abode and needs only to jump aboard in order to be swept away within the offerings of celebrated poets, challenging poetry prompts, critiques of members’ poems, and riveting post-session discussions of literature, culture, and art.
The name represents the journey of a motley group in a social-distancing milieu, bound by a fact: they are all smitten by the poetry bug. The poet, nourished by the company of peers, may then set off to places unknown as glimpsed through the train’s windows, resplendent in the fact that this is not a journey they need to make alone.