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Kolkata to host Sahitya Akademi’s transgender poets’ meet on July 17

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The country’s first transgender poets’ meet – organised by Sahitya Akademi (SA) – will be held on July 17 in Kolkata. The meet, chaired by India’s country’s first transgender principal Manabi Bandopadhyay, will give a platform to six transgender poets.

According to KS Rao, secretary of SA, “This is the first time that such a literary meet exclusively for transgender poets is being organised by SA. Kolkata will be the first city to organise this meet. We are planning to host similar meets in different parts of the country. However, the venues of those meets haven’t been decided as yet.”

Mihir Sahu, officer-in-charge of eastern region of SA, confirmed that each poet has been given 15 minutes time to read out their verses. “We will be hosting the event at the Sahitya Akademi auditorium. It is expected to be a two-and-a-half-hour-long event,” Sahu said.

According to Bandopadhyay, the participating poets are Aruna Nath, Debdatta Biswas, Debajyoti Bhattacharya, Prosphutita Sugandha, Rani Majumder and Shankari Mondal (Naskar). “I have faced a lot of problems within the community for organising this meet. But, I am glad this meet is finally happening. Prosphutita is a school teacher in a remote village. Because of societal pressures, she can’t disclose her transgender identity. I have read her poetry. One titled ‘Ekti Patar Mrityu’ is very poignant. Shankari is a hijra by profession and writes well,” Bandopadhyay said.

Thirty-something Aruna Nath is thrilled to be participating in this meet. “Four months back, I lost my mother. I wish she was around to see me attend this literary meet,” said Nath, who has been writing in magazines since 2013. Nath will be reading out two verses – ‘Upolobdhi’ and ‘Mon O Shorir Niye Songram’. “I have completed my master’s degree in history from Burdwan University and then did a masters in social welfare from the Netaji Subhas Open University. Currently, I am associated with an organisation called Songram that works for the LGBTQ movement,” Nath said.

Biswas will be reading a verse titled ‘Bicched Ebong’ that deals with post-marriage crisis. “I have dedicated a verse to my role model Manabi-di. I wrote it a couple of months back and titled it ‘Sapmochon’. I will also be reading an excerpt from a play. This deals with the friction of a transgender person with her mother,” Biswas said. Bhattacharya, who teaches physiology at Harimohan Ghosh College, has selected three verses. “After a discussion with Manabi-di, I will take a final call on the number of verses that I will be reading. The theme of my works will be about the relationship of the third gender with family and society,” Bhattacharya said.

Source: Times of India

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