Woman Scream 2017 Mumbai India

Mumbai, India had also participated in the 7th Woman Scream International Poetry and Arts Festival. Two poetry readings were held on March 16 & 18, 2017: March 2017 has been very special for US, as WE formed bonds with interesting groups and organizations, celebrating them with poetry and conversation. Eminent as well as emerging poets came together to  speak up for an equal & safe world for women. 

'Poetic Justice' on March 16, was collaboration between Women Empowered-India (WE), MPI's 'Woman Scream 2017, and the US Consulate in Mumbai. The sessions were Readings from Erotext & Fractals by Sudeep Sen, Spiritual Bonds - Poetry That Heals, with Anju Makhija,  Priya Sarukkai Chabria ( her poems were read by Sudeep & Smeetha as she could not be present) and Vinita Agarwal; moderated by Sudeep Sen, Tracing Trails - In Search of Roots, with Nabina Das  Gayatri Chawla Smeetha Bhoumik  moderated by Bina Sarkar Ellias, Women Today - Ties That Bind, with Sanjeev Khandekar,  Smita Sahay, Sharon Irani,  moderated by Vinita Agarwal.

As part of Women Scream 2017, 'WE Speak Out' was held on March 18 at Kitabkhana, with conversations, readings & a book launch; where poets-authors shared their thoughts on equal rights issues, on a journey towards an equal world. The poets-authors are Sudeep Sen  Vinita Agarwal  Smita Sahay  Smeetha Bhoumik  Sharon Irani  Mahesh Leelapandit  Ramneek Singh  Shuchi Mehta Ankita Shah  Trupthi Shetty  Damini Kane  Harnidh Kaur  Mrinalini Harchandrai Priyal Panchal Prakriti Kargeti  

The evening, saw the Mumbai launch of Erotext, Sudeep Sen's new poetry collection, followed by an illuminating conversation around the book with Smita Sahay & Sharon Irani. Describing the evening, Prof Ashwani Kumar puts it so warmly:  '.....enjoyed “word by word, line by line” empowering feminist justice poetry from the Generation Next and Sudeep’s sublime ‘Ero Text’ a lexical and axial delight and wonder…' He then quotes from  'I Lalla', (The Poems of Lal Ded translated by Ranjit Hoskote):

I burnt the dirt from my mind,
 a knife in my heart,
Spread my skirt to kneel at His door. 
Only then did Lalla’s name travel from mouth to mouth.

WE are extremely fortunate to have the support and participation of Womaninc, and other like-minded community groups. It's a pleasure extending our heartfelt thanks to all poets & authors who read, and to all those who graced the occasion with their presence.

Women Empowered-India (WE) is comprised of you, and we are deeply aware of the brilliance, kindness, love and warmth that shines on WE because of you.... 

Mahabanoo Mody-Kotwal  Bob McKerrow  Menka Shivdasani Upal Deb  Arundhathi Subramaniami  Priya Sarukkai Chabria  Gjv Prasad Anju Makhija Ashwani Kumar Bina Sarkar Ellias Sudeep Sen  Hemant Divate  Nabina Das   Smruti Divate  Anjali Purohit  Vinita Agrawal Rochelle Potkar Taseer Gujral SoniaRao Sanjeev Khandekar  Jennifer Robertson  Sumana Roy  Smita Sahay, Gayatri Chawla, Sharon Iranii, Pervin Saket, Smriti Smriti Shetty Dalvii,  Sucharita Balraj  Mahesh Leelapandit, Trupthi Shetty, Ankita Shah  Ramneek Singh Shuchi Mehta  Damini Kane Priyal Panchal, Prakriti Kargeti, Harnidh Kaur & Mrinalini Harchandraii....many other friends, poets, beautiful people...

In our conversation 'Self-Expression in Feminism', Vinita Agarwal began by mentioning that self expression in feminism is not a new phenomenon. She quoted the rebellious poetry of Therigatha -  a collection of Buddhist feminist verses written by women who chose the spiritual path written 2600 years ago during the times of Buddha. She revealed how poetry heals and alleviates the suffering of women to some extent at least, and spoke of the beautiful bonds that women create by sharing poetry; she then read an extract from a poem by Anu Mahadev, (editor -  Womaninc.com).  Smita Sahay read a poem by Sumana Roy in Veils, Halos & Shackles, which always elicits a startled response in listeners - immense sadness and an awareness of all the fleeting beauty amidst it. I spoke about the need to undrestand and define our own feminism, instead of trying to fit into a given set of descriptions by others.

To conclude, let me leave you with this beautiful prose-poem from Erotext by Sudeep Sen :

Night Shot,  Krusevo

Night fell gently on Krusevo, and with it came the heavy-duty chill. I descended one of the streets - a long stairway - bold granite cut and joined at impossible angles that led to the town centre...
Had it not been for the teenagers who gathered in the town square to liven up the weekend, one would almost have mistaken the place for a ghost town.

I walked up and down the many Hill paths that knit the town together. I came upon many...  
Prilep and the surrounding villages glittered in incandescent light like a vast shifting swarm of glow-worm. ...

A shooting star from the middle of the sky scattered westwards before disappearing in a flash.  I held its trajectory in my memory and then in my hand, closed my fists, and made a wish, for peace. Somehow one tends to start with the smallest and most recognizable constellations in hand - my immediate family, my best friends and then others.

At a cafe bar off the town square, my friend Zoran and I…

Two linden trees...

When I ordered brandy...

Our chairs were perfectly placed to watch the street life - ...

From a house close by,  a beautiful peach-skinned Macedonian woman strutted out of the door with her mother sternly inquiring behind her : ' When will you be back home?' 'Seven in the morning,' she replied, walking away without looking back. The young men and women of the town were going to the central square, preening in full flight. The same time-worn courting rituals were enacted - some were successful, others went home disappointed. But the night's hopeful light at least provided them with an escape - fantasy is an important ingredient for survival in these times.

Smeetha Bhoumik
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