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.
Soi had started with women writing in Bengal, then reached out to the rest of India , now it is the subcontinent that we consider our home. In 2013 our ‘Soi Samman’ awards went to two very important writers, one from the South, an Indian English writer, Shashi Deshande, and one from the West, Urmila Pawar, a powerful Dalit writer from Maharashtra. We have already had guest Sois from Bangladesh, and would very much like to bring guest sois from Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bhutan and Nepal. Our problem, as you have correctly guessed, is a lack of resources. We would like Soi to be ultimately a united front of creative women of South Asia. We don't have the money to fulfil our dreams but we must not give up. Look, how gorgeously we have just turned eighteen in November 2017, without resources!
All information about Soi is available on this Website. You must have noticed that our members are writing women from all over the world, and we are inviting women from all over the globe to contribute to our blog, (called ‘Blogblogom’) on different topics that might interest them. At present we have two topics of discussion going on our blog- 1) Silence like a Cancer Grows; 2) For Gauri (obviously, on the freedom of speech.). You are welcome to introduce any relevant topic of discussion to the editorial group.
Our Soi Magazine, 'Soi Sabud', has gone online from September 2017. There will be no more printed issues. Please collect your old copies if you want to save them as rare.
The theme of our Soi-Mela 2017 was Bhumikanya, the reports are available on the website.
We complete our 18th year on November 30, 2017.
Our forthcoming ‘Soi-mela Boi-mela 2018’ will be held on the first weekend of 2018, 6th and 7th of January. Our theme this year is 'Creative Women Against Violence'. We shall have our programmes from 2pm to 9 pm in Sisir Mancha and the exhibition of women's books and paintings and photography in the adjoining Gaganendra Shilpa Pradarshashala. We are delighted to announce that ‘Swayam’ is joining hands with Soi in installing a rare exhibition of dopattas hand written by women recovered from abused backgrounds, named ‘Voices of Courage and Sorrow...Women in the Dark Speak out.’ This is part of an international exhibition, planned by a Swiss artist Ms. Franziska Greber, and produced in India by Swayam. It fits in so well with our theme this year, Creative Women Against Violence, that I could not resist requesting Anuradha Kapoor of Swayam to share at least a part of it with Soi for the week end of 6th and 7th January 2018 during our Soi-mela Boi-Mela .Let us hope it will work out.
This year is also the birth centenary of the matchless Bangla writer Bani Ray. She was uniquely modern in her choice of topics, not only among women but also among her contemporary men who were writing in the forties. Bani Ray died rather early, and unfortunately, and shamefully for us, is all but forgotten in Bengal. Soi is beginning its 19th year by paying its homage to Bani Ray, by celebrating her birth centenary with a panel discussion and readings from her texts, and a Q and A with the audience.
The Soi-mela events will consist of panel discussions among creative Indian women against violence, relevant performances, and our annual debate related to the theme of the conference.
Soi-Mela had started an unparalleled program in the early years of 2005 and 2006 , of offering stage space to women who had never been published , had never read in public before, and named it lovingly, 'Anamika Sandhya'. There were two prizes for the best poem and the best prose given in a separate event later on. We are re-introducing it this year, though, thanks to Facebook , no aspiring writer among the present generation remains unpublisized any longer!
In 2017 , three books of poems were published from our own Soi Prokashani Two of them are volumes of original poetry , 'Mugdho Hoye Thaki' by Anjali Das, and 'Dash Pata', by Rina Giri, and a book of translated poems, 'Haiku 79' by Nabaneeta Dev Sen. A collection 'Sera Malini', containing selections from the magazine Malini edited by Maya Siddhanta has also been published.
With deep, heartfelt sorrow we offer our condolences to late Ajoy Basu Roy and late Manjusri Basu Ray of Barnana Press, who were the heart of Soi Prokashani. We are forever grateful to them for their warmth and patience without which our journal, 'Soi -Sabud', would not have had such a long life. Now that Ajoybabu is no more, it gives us a reason to go on-line with 'Soi-Sabud'.
2017 has been a great year for Soi , for receiving honours, invitations, awards, participation in various literary events in Kolkata and outside Kolkata. We are offering you a separate happy list of our honours along with new books by sois published outside Soi Prokasani in 2017.
Warmest greetings once again, see you at Soi-Mela,Boi-Mela, on the 6th and 7th of January 2018, at Sisir Mancha and Gaganendra Shilpa Pradarshashala.
Wishing us all a sensible, peaceful, creatively exciting 2018!
Nabaneeta Dev Sen
Founder- President, SOI
Women Writers' Association of West Bengal