Rhythm Divine Poets (RDP), a Kolkata-based group of poets dedicated to the promotion of poetry, organised the 8th Woman Scream International Poetry and Arts Festival at Presidency University. The group hosted the Woman Scream event as Kolkata representative of this global movement for the second time, and previously they had done it in 2016 as well. Women Poets International Movement was founded in 2009 by Jael Uribe in the Dominican Republic. This non-profit organisation focuses on women poets and artists and spread their art through events, publications and collective projects. The International Woman Scream Festival is one of their leading events. It is being hosted worldwide in collaboration with the different organisations. The festival focuses on issues that deal with gender-based violence, equality, feminism and humanism and portrays this same through poems, art, music, conferences and plays in March. They Celebrated it as the month of the woman.
Rhythm Divine Poets, whose passion for words is known worldwide, had Presidency University as their venue partner. The literature and performing arts departments of Presidency University volunteered for the cause. The students, despite their exams, enthusiastically helped decorate the place. Artists painted live on the theme of Motherhood. Poems honouring mothers, and womanhood were recited by eager students who put the judge of the poetry slam, Anindita Bose, co-founder of RDP and author of “I Know The Truth of A Broken Mirror”, into a critical internal debate when it came to choosing the best. Artists and photographers displayed their works that graced the walls of the Presidency University buildings. Artists made a Poetry Tree, and canopy of kites decorated with quotes adorned the skies. But, what stole the show, perhaps, was the slam poets. These students delivered some hitting stanzas that embodied the current state of affairs and what the youth thinks. Most of the performers were the students from different colleges and universities, but here they were one. Their voice was one. The message was one. Santasree Chaudhuri, a social activist and founder of the Bodhi Tree Art Gallery, was impressed with the decorations and more than amazed by the talents of the young artists. She was kind enough to judge the art competition and share her poems.
The evening session saw poetry reading by city poets at Dr Rajendra Prasad Sabhagriha. Prof. Jaydeep Sarangi, secretary of Intercultural Poetry and Performance Library (IPPL), along with reputed UK community poet Tony Hillier shared their views and experiences when it came to the empowerment of women. Tony Hillier explained the high concept of community poetry - where poetry is the balm over the aching soul. Saptaparna Roy captivated the audience with her recital of some renowned international poets. The Borders of My Heart, a poetry and dance recital by Tania Chakravertty and Antara Ghatak enraptured the audience present, as the two women glided over the strings of a violin with words and dance. In the end poets and poetry lovers interacted with each other over coffee and snacks.
In the lead up to the main event RDP had collaborated with Women Empowered - India (WE) of Mumbai to feature contemporary Indian female poets starting from the 15th of March to the 31st of March. Woman Times and Get Bengal did exclusive features that highlighted the common cause that this collaboration strived to achieve. Virasat Art Publication, Admakers, Bonobology, and Santasree Chaudhuri were the principal sponsors. Other partners were Haiku Jam, Art-a-thin, Rotaract Club of Central Calcutta (RCCC) apart from Presidency University and IPPL. Chromatic Bliss Photography was the professional photographer of the event. Sufia Khatoon, poet and co-founder of RDP, was thankful to all the partners and sponsors who came forward to support the development. According to Ruth Pal Chaudhuri, the chief coordinator of the event, organising arguably the most significant poetry festival in Kolkata was back-breaking work. Coordinating with different departments of the university and the partners was a mammoth task. There were train blockages due to some reason in the city on the day of the event as well as technical glitches during the programme that at times rendered the mics useless. But the strength in the words of the students was loud and clear. Ruth said that since the university was gracious to be the venue partner, RDP decided to keep the music segment just for them, (Ruth did hear that they had some excellent jammers and musicians there, and she was not disappointed!). The response of the youth humbled the organisers. The artists, the poets, the singers and the musicians, all came together and helped create a magical day that made everyone all the more eager for the next edition of the event in 2019.