All about emotions at India’s 1st transgender poets’ meet

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Kolkata, July 18 (IANS) Poignant pieces of verse kept the audience in a thrall as Kolkata organised the country’s first ‘Transgender Poets’ Meet’ here.

Eight transgender poets and writers from West Bengal participated in Tuesday’s event, organised by Sahitya Akademi, the country’s national academy of letters under the Union Culture Ministry.

“Ekti Patar Mrityu” (Death of a leaf) by Prosphutita Sugandha, “Bichched Ebong” (Separation) by Debdatta Biswas, “Chakravyuh” by Aruna Nath and “Shottikarer Naari” (Real Woman) by Debajyoti Bhattacharya were some of the poems heard on the occasion.

Rani Majumder and Shankari Mondal (Naskar) completed the list of the invited poets, all of whom have accomplished academic qualifications.

As a proof of the tremendous enthusiasm the meet had generated in the marginalised community, two transgender persons Anurag Maitrayee and Tista Das, though not invited, shared their poetic creativity on stage after successfully persuading the organisers to give them a chance.

Shankari Mondal (Naskar) was earlier a part of that fragment of the transgender community who sing and dance for their living. But now she is a poet and actress.

“I have worked in Kaushik Ganguly’s film ‘Nagarkirtan’. It has won four National awards,” said Mondal, who recited her poem ‘Amar Anubhuti'(My Feelings).”

Manabi Bandopadhyay, country’s first transgender principal, chaired the event by introducing the participants and also reading few lines of her own poetry.

“I wish more and more third gender people come up with their poetry and creations. I am trying my best to organise more such events,” said Bandopadhyay.

Eminent poet Subodh Sarkar, the convener of the Akademi’s Bengali advisory board, said: “This is a historic moment and it is our duty to see how literature is taking its own course and creating new assets from everyday life.

According to him, the society does not accept new things easily, it takes time. Still, people like Manabi are gradually coming up and gaining acceptance into the mainstream.

“However, the word mainstream is very vague and there is a huge debate surrounding the term. We suggested these poets, to speak openly, unabashedly without any inhibition as literary creativity cannot be curbed by any law,” said the Sahitya Akademi awardee.

Talking about how Dalit literature has created a niche for itself, Sarkar said: “West Bengal did not see much of it but big names have come up from Maharashtra, Karnataka, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Odisha and Assam.

“Similarly, transgender poetry will find its own course. It is best for the people of the community to talk about themselves through literature as it will have real depth.”

A Sahitya Akademi official expressed satisfaction over the response to the event.

“This year when the Bengali Advisory Board decided to come up with the unique event, we had no idea that this was India’s first Transgender Poets’ Meet. I am excited to see the audience who appreciated our effort,” said Mihir Sahu, officer-in-charge of the eastern region of Sahitya Akademi.

“Our sole purpose is to see how transgender people can share their plight through literature and what role literature plays in helping them to express themselves,” Sahu added.



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