Soi Creative Women

আর সইব না...
একটা অদ্ভুত বিষাদ। সারাক্ষণ গায়ে লেগে আছে। কেন ? সে কি আকাশ আজকাল প্রায়ই মেঘলা
সইদের কলমে সইমেলার ভাবনা
সন্ধেরাতে বন্ধুর সঙ্গে সিনেমা দেখতে বেরিয়েছিল এক মেয়ে।নেকড়ের দল ধর্ষণ করে
তাহারা
মাঝেমাঝে একটা স্বপ্ন দেখি আমি। সবুজ মাঠে বাচ্চারা খেলছে,আর ক্লাসরুমে পড়াচ্ছেন
Quo Vadis?
What is happening to our democratic motherland? You can’t eat what you want, you can’t marry whom you want, you can’t say what you want, it will cost you your life if you speak the truth. Freedom ...
উন্মাদিনী কথা
মা, কে তুমি দাঁড়িয়ে আছো রাস্তার ধারে ? চোখে জল , উৎকণ্ঠায় নীল হয়ে আছে তোমার কন্ঠনালী,
For Gauri

Bullets showered… showered bullets…
Not one, not two, seven in a row
Those aimed at Gauri,
pierced deep into our hearts.
Bullets showered… showered bullets…

আলোর দিশারী
হাতের কাজগুলো সারতেই সারতেই মেনকা একবার দরজার বাইরেটা উঁকি মেরে দেখে নিল। নাঃ,
Because I’m a girl I must study

A father asks his daughter:
Study? Why should you study?
I have sons aplenty who can study
Girl, why should you study?

Thoughts Against War & Violence: Collection 01
Only in time of fear is government thrown back to its primitive and sole function of self-defense and the many interests of which it is the guardian become subordinate to that. -Jane AddamsAmerican Social ...
ফিরে আসছি
টান
সকালে ঘুম ভাঙতেই শিমূলের চোখে পড়ল সারা গায়ে রোদ্দুর মেখে মা সামনে দাঁড়িয়ে, পরণে
Mata Playback
In 1950, when India became a Republic, I was four and my mother was 25. I grew up hearing how my mother – like most girls from upper caste, middle class families – would have been schooled at home ...
ব্যথা সম্পর্কে
সবকিছু খাপে খাপে বসে গেলে আমরা কি সহসা কখনো
গভীর মজায় ডুবে ফের ভুলে যাব সব ব্যথাবেদনাকে?
তাহলে
রক্তমাখা কান্নার কোলাজ
বসন্ত এসেছে আজ এই দেশে !!
নাহলে এতটা কেন বাতাস বইছে চারপাশে,
বাতাস না ঝড়ের সঙ্কেত
দৃশ্য
সেবার খুব ঠান্ডা পড়েছিল । জানুয়ারি শেষ হয়ে এলেও চার পাঁচে ঘোরাফেরা করছিল পারা
If not, I’m Amongst the Destructors of Our Own Abode

If not, I’m amongst the destructors of our own Abode
I’ll let you know I’m not a feminist
It was the environment around which made me persuaded
Impossible it was because Everything I create

A Letter from Pandora
This letter is being published in this newspaper on account of my death. While you are reading this, I might be enjoying a little snack in ‘heaven,’ or so they say. I sincerely have no idea what it ...
The Death of Dissent?
“What is this country coming to?” The opening line of Girish Karnad’s compelling play Tughlaq has come back to haunt us. Karnad is among 25 Kannada writers and intellectuals who have been ...
দুগ্গা দুগ্গা
বাড়ি থেকে যখনই কেউ কোথাও বেরতো মা বলতেন দুগ্গা দুগ্গা । যখন আমার সংসার হল--সংসার
কবিতার বাণী রায়
বাংলা কথাসাহিত্যের ধারাবাহিকতায় বাণী রায়ের নাম অপরিচিত নয়। তাঁর উপন্যাস, ছোটোগল্প
নারী
পুরুষ, তাইতো হাজারো ছুতোয় স্পর্শ করেছ আমায়,কখনো ভয়াল কখনও মুখোশ ছলচাতুরির মায়ায়ফোটেনি
শ্রীমতি গৌরী লঙ্কেশ শ্রীচরণেষু
“জাতের নামে বজ্জাতি সব / জাত জালিয়াত খেলছ জুয়া”
বিষণ্ণতার সঙ্গে কলমে উঠে আসছে
সমুদ্রে ফেরা
কাঁচের ভিতর দিয়ে দেখি যতটা দূর চোখ যায়স্পষ্ট স্বচ্ছ ঝকঝকে অন্ধকার কি পরিপাটী রাস্তা
বাণী রায়ঃ জন্মশতবর্ষে
১৭ অক্টোবর ১৯৯২। পঁচিশ বছর হলো বাণী রায় আর আমাদের মধ্যে নেই। তাঁর ছোটোগল্পের
আমি লিখি
জানেন আমি আসলে একটা মানুষ।নাড়াবার লেজ নেই,উড়বার পাখা নেই, মাথার চারপাশে ছটা অর্থাৎ
নারীশক্তি
নারীমেধ যজ্ঞের শুরুমন্ত্র পড়েন মহাগুরুযজ্ঞে আহুতি দেবে নারীপরণে রক্তে রাঙা
উন্নয়নে উচ্চশিক্ষা
খবরের কাগজের এই বিজ্ঞাপনটা আবার কেমন বুকের ভেতর কীসের যেন হাতছানি দিল। যে চাকরিই
না, ভালো নেই আমরা
আমরা কি সত্যিই খুব ভালো আছি? জিজ্ঞেস করলে প্রশ্নের উত্তরটা অবশ্য অবধারিতভাবেই
অক্ষম
-"কই গোওওও ! কে আচিস দরজাটা খোল দেকি ! ঘরে রাজকুমার এল আর আমাদের প্রজাদের উপহার দিতে
দিয়েছি সবারে আপন বৃন্তে ফুটিতে ?
প্রথম দৃশ্যদিব্য ।। মাসি, ঐ লাল চুড়িটা দাও...পিউ ।। ওমা... এই তো এতগুলো চুড়ি পরেছিস,
ভালো -বাসার  বারান্দা ? না মন্দ বাসার বারান্দায় আছি?
দেশে ফিরে এসে মন কোথায় পুলকিত থাকবে তা নয় লজ্জায় ঘেন্নায় ধুলোয় লুটিয়ে পড়েছে।
অসংবেদী
কি ভীষন অসংবেদী আমি তাই না?
আমি খালি ঘরের মধ্যে আগুন কেন জ্বলছে তাই নিয়ে ব্যস্ত
নির্ভয়া এবং......

সোনার প্রতিমা নও, 
আমাদের মাটির পুতুল,তাই আপন আপন লাগে।

আমার কী আসে যায়
এক সকালে ওরা রাখালকে তুলে নিয়েওকে পেটাতে পেটাতেঅপেক্ষমান জীপটার ভেতরে ঠেসেনিয়ে
আর সইব না... সইদের কলমে সইমেলার ভাবনা তাহারা Quo Vadis? উন্মাদিনী কথা For Gauri আলোর দিশারী Because I’m a girl I must study Thoughts Against War & Violence: Collection 01 ফিরে আসছি টান Mata Playback ব্যথা সম্পর্কে রক্তমাখা কান্নার কোলাজ দৃশ্য If not, I’m Amongst the Destructors of Our Own Abode A Letter from Pandora The Death of Dissent? দুগ্গা দুগ্গা কবিতার বাণী রায় নারী শ্রীমতি গৌরী লঙ্কেশ শ্রীচরণেষু সমুদ্রে ফেরা বাণী রায়ঃ জন্মশতবর্ষে আমি লিখি নারীশক্তি উন্নয়নে উচ্চশিক্ষা না, ভালো নেই আমরা অক্ষম দিয়েছি সবারে আপন বৃন্তে ফুটিতে ? ভালো -বাসার  বারান্দা ? না মন্দ বাসার বারান্দায় আছি? অসংবেদী নির্ভয়া এবং...... আমার কী আসে যায়

1. Migrant Poetics

A migrant life lived through continents, across waterways and islands creates the space where I write – a space that infolds memory, marking whorl upon whorl of time, mutating palimpsest I have learnt to reckon with.

I write in solitude, using the materials of a shared life: pathways of sky and soil and water.

I write on paper pages, or in fitful electronic flashes that appear on a screen, or occasionally with a sharp stick on soil, just as I used to do as a child.

Like many others I cross as best I can ordinary streets filled with the rumour of war, airports decked out with barbed wire, underground places threatened by sudden explosion.

This day to day life is scored by the burden of discrepant nationalisms, fevered ethnicities. But it is here and nowhere else that the invisible life goes on, the life of dream and imagination that seeks its sustenance in and through the sensual body.

A woman’s body tracked through space, intact and bloodied, drawing out bit by bit in lived time, blossoming words, rare geographies of longing.

2. Crossing the Indian Ocean

I was with my mother on the S.S.Jehangir, crossing the Indian Ocean. Midway on the journey I turned five. Bombay was far behind and Port Sudan still to come. It was my first sea voyage.

Until then I had lived on solid land, on the Indian subcontinent and all my journeys had been by train or car or on small wooden boats on the canals and waterways of the coastal region I come from.

The sea cast me loose.

The sea tore away from me all that I had. In doing so, it gave me an interior life far sooner than I would have had otherwise, but at great cost.

I was forced to enter another life, the life of the imagination.

But it was not as yet the life of language.

I had few words at my disposal, and those I had came from several languages that cohabited within my head. What I felt as a child and held deep within myself quite exceeded the store of words within my reach.

This is something that I feel, even now as an adult. The struggle for words, the struggle to be human, is coexistent for me with the craft of poetry.

On my fifth birthday I was plunged into a world with no before and no after.

A child can fall into the sea, never to reappear.

A mother can appear out of the waves, only to vanish, reappear, and then vanish again.

The sea has no custom, no ceremony. It allows a theater for poetry, for a voice that cries out, that splits into one, two, three or more, chanting the figurations of the soul, marking a migrant memory.

The day I turned five, I stuck my head out through the porthole of our cabin and saw ceaseless water. On and on, until my eyes and neck hurt, I kept watch.

When I pulled my head back in I knew the sea was painted on the inside of my eyelids, would never leave me.

Sometimes the syllables of poetry well up, waves on the surface of the sea, and they burst as flying fish might, struck by light.

Sometimes I feel this is how I began, a wordless poet, a child on the surface of wide water with all that she loved torn from her, cast into ceaseless suspension.

The page on which I write is a live restless thing, soul-sister to the unselving sea.

3. Threshold City

Time works in us the way water works at the edge of the sea: there are ripples and eddies and the slow sedimentation of earth rounded off by water, sudden slips and plunges where waves crash, and sometimes underwater faults that suck the sea water out and send it soaring into a wall which comes crashing down on small human habitations built by the shore.

Time sucks and blows through us and sends us reeling.

Our bodies become living markers of time. Memory makes us hop and race and dance and flee.

Still, the present is always with us, and our poems transfigure place by marking time.

*

We write in order to live. We live in order to write.

Poetry marks a threshold, a dream state, by casting time into relief. In this way it spares us and permits our residence on earth.

Ontology can be understood as threshold.

The question of being, of openness to time, is the province of poetry.

*

Poetry is music that our bodies etch on the provisional solidities housing us, as ground is marked by the shadow of clouds, as unstable ground is constantly etched by water.

*

The threshold is a city, layer upon layer of brick and stone and painted wood, metal, semi-precious stones, a shield for our impediments, a buckler in the face of death, which is what the city hosts, even as life swarms and spills through it.

Allahabad, Khartoum, Delhi, Hyderabad, New York, cities I have lived in, which set up thresholds constantly overcome, inconstantly wrought as speed manufactures sites for contestation.

*

The body is a threshold, loved and scarred by other bodies.

*

We race through cities, past barbed wire, through transit lounges, across borders where memory of the sea dissolves as clouds in a mirror edged with gilt, touched by invisible hands.

*

Poetry is a threshold inscribing memory.

Memory tunes and untunes us.

It sings the visible and the invisible. The nervous knowledge of the body is raised as sung chords through lungs, throat , vocal chords, palate, tongue, teeth and lips, out into the blue air.

*

Poetry is a threshold inscribing mortality.

Once completed, the poem is borne to the edges of public space, of history. And there it survives, if it can.

At times the poem is hidden under a pillow, at times trumpeted abroad, at times burnt, at times cast into water.

*

I think of the Kalachakra Mandala created by Tibetan monks.(1) Once the painstaking work is completed, the mandala – made of hundreds and thousands of grains of sand – is borne aloft, cast into running water.

When the poem is done, its metrical consonances, its rhythmic images and sharp bounding lines cut loose, leaving us in penury.

We start all over again, searching out the zone where the body’s skin and the stones of the city meet, feverish threshold constantly renewed.

Our lines mark out unquiet borders, our words figure a palimpsest of desire, inklings of dark gold in poems of our season.

4 . In Time

Where does poetry come from? How to answer a question about the provenance of poetry, evoke a most elusive truth?

There are sentences that spell out an answer, lines that I have held onto for their signal power: I have said that Poetry is the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings. It takes its origin from emotion recollected in tranquility: the emotion is contemplated till by a species of reaction the tranquility disappears, and an emotion, kindred to that which was before the subject of contemplation, is gradually produced, and does itself actually exist in the mind. (2)

But now I think, what if Wordsworth got it utterly wrong? And what if there were no tranquility to be had? The poet lays out a picture of a mind in fluent motion, recollection as a boon that permits imaginative contemplation.

But what if instead of an emotion kindred to that which was before the subject of contemplation something utterly disparate comes into being, quite apart from what memory grants, and we are faced with two figurations of feeling, one and the other utterly distinct, no dialectic possible and what emerges is the terror of consciousness, fierce sister to the sublime.

This separation of consciousness, a tear or rip in the fabric of time as it is sensed, brings us closer to traumatic knowledge which has no words to fit to its ghostly flesh till the poem flashes, a crystal of words swept high into air, easily shattered.

The poem, as I think of it now is a fragile crystal of breath, the silence at its core mirroring what was crossed out, mutilated, could never approach the condition of words.

A crystal of words luminous in time.

5. Island City

To build is in itself already to dwell – Heidegger3

I need this city to write in. The thought came to me with the sharpness of a hunger pang, with fierce excitement.

Newly arrived in New York City I was trying to make sense of towers of glass, steel and brick, underground passageways built for speed, overcrowded bridges, bristling sidewalks and all around the island, barely visible, the slow lapping of water from estuary, river and sea.

I was filled with wonder, how else shall I put it? But this coupled with a sense of shock, a feeling that I had hit ground on the other side of the mirror.

I understood early that to live on this island, I would have to write.

That the writing of poems might permit me to make a shelter for myself. I felt that otherwise, I would have nowhere to be.

It was a familiar feeling for me, a need to make ground, to build a dwelling space with words. The task of making the intricate structure of the poem could allow me space to live.

I found a job in a college that stands above a subway stop, its escalators and elevators packed with immigrant students. I felt I was living at the cross-roads of the world.

Sometimes I wandered alone, out into the streets, or sat by myself on a park bench. I saw buildings being torn down, the razing of small community parks, the erection of massive, overpriced condominiums.

I murmured lines I had learnt by heart as a child in school in a far country – .la forme d’une ville/ Change plus vite, hélas! Que le coeur d’un mortel4.

The electric grid of activity in the city became a scrim for poetry. From time to time elements of my past came to light, but always the here and now of my days and nights in the city made a translucence through which to glimpse the moving figures of the past, those objects and elements of sound and sense that structure the musicality of desire till the poem becomes sonorous space, lightbox of longing, choreography of voice, mortal architecture.

Endnotes:

(1)The Kalachakra Mandala or Wheel of Time Mandala is a figuration for the blessing of time created by Tibetan Buddhist monks. It is formed by the patient pouring out of many colored sands. Upon its completion the mandala is cast into running water.

(2)William Wordsworth,` Preface to Lyrical Ballads’ (1802), William Wordsworth ed. Stephen Gill (New York: Oxford University Press, 1984) p.611

(3)Martin Heidegger, Poetry, Language, Thought (New York, Harper Colophon, 1971) p.146

(4) Charles Baudelaire, `Le Cygne’ Oeuvres Completes (Paris: Editions Robert Laffont, 1980) p.63

Published in Contemporary Women’s Writing 1:1 (2007) Inaugural issue

 

From the book 'Poetics of Dislocation'

Meena Alexander

Meena Alexander is a renowned poet, essayist and novelist. She is a Distinguished Professor of English at Hunter College and the CUNY Graduate Center.


The beliefs, views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions, beliefs and viewpoints of Soi or official policies of Soi.

From the President's Desk

Hello! Dear friends of Soi,

Greetings for the coming year! Let us pray for peace. We wish you a safe and positive year ahead. We are celebrating the completion of the first year of our website. We are just a year old, looking back at the Website, and it has not been a bad year for Soi. Plenty of books have been published and awards won by our sois. But then, honours are not enough; we should demand more creative depth from ourselves. We, in India, are going through a dark period, a difficult time, being part of a sad and turbulent history each moment. A sorrowful silence on our part is not the answer. Positive anger and, repeated creative protest against hatred, is perhaps the most useful Indianness at the moment. The "Idea of India" as we have received from our childhood culture, is now submerged in an artificially created, dangerous, anti-human political mess. Those of us who happen to write, we know, our appeal, our written words, our poems and articles can reach only a handful of educated Indians. But we also know that it is in our hands, the privileged minority, that the future of the rest of us in the huge and confused subcontinent is helplessly chained…But there is always a tomorrow. We are tomorrow's people, the creative woman of the world...Soi belongs to them, Soi belongs to tomorrow. And it is our aim to build a better tomorrow for all of us, through creative art. The written word may have a limited appeal but what about music, painting, photography, cinema, the performing arts? We have direct reach to the senses. Soi means all of us, the Creative Women of this world, who care.

Read More...

silence like a cancer grows

for Gauri

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The Story of Soi

Soi was created on November 30th, 2000, by a group of women writing themselves in Bangla. The term SOI has a three dimensional significance in Bangla, it means 1. Signature, 2. Sakhi (woman friend) and 3. 'I endure' (but not for long!). We, creative women, deeply felt the need for a meeting point, to vent our ideas, to test our creations, to gather strength from each other at moments of defeat, and to celebrate our victories. SOI is a gathering of creative minds where the established and rising writers equally share a common space, exchanging their innermost thoughts about literature and life. In a few years we opened our arms to creative women in other arts. SOI is a space where we can freely express ourselves and open up to the rudest criticisms, and still feel secure. Such a place of warmth was absolutely essential for us.

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