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An Ode to Womanhood

Feb 2016

An Ode to Womanhood

“It’s a perfect ensemble of a modern collage”

– part of Bashabi Fraser’s poem “She”.

Its when you have two poets with two distinctly different backgrounds up on stage, talking about a much discussed
theme of motherhood, in terms of verses and poetry, you know you’ll have a session you cannot possible forget in a

That is just what the second session, supported by the British Council, of Kolkata Literature Festival 2016, Day 2, brought to the audience. Two poets, Bashabi Fraser and Chrys Salt engaged everyone in a discussion about empowerment, loss, sibling rivalry and more.

The first part was entirely on motherhood, since Bashabi Fraser recently published her collection “Letter to my Mother and other Mothers”.

Chrys Salt started with a touching poem about sibling rivalry and went on to delve deeper into poems related to nostalgia, the aftermath of war, inheritance,the tender relationship between a mother and a daughter and others. With brilliant metaphors used for describing severe situations, the session kept the audience enraptured.

Chrys Salt

Chrys Salt

Bashabi Fraser began with a poem about her mother, which had a story behind it. She says, after her mother had dementia in her later years, Bashabi found herself talking to her sometimes and that’s how she penned her poems.
The introduction to her mother, which told us about how her mother’s vision was much ahead of her times, gave us an insight into the poet’s mind. This is something which we never get to experience.The poems talked in detail about daily lives that revolved around a mother and her child’s tender bond.

Bashabi Fraser

Bashabi Fraser

The second poem, “She” was about Tagore’s Kadambari which began with the words, “Kadambari immortalised by Tagore is every woman…”. The poem was about all women not having the same chances.
She finished with one poem about the partition, inspired by a story “Cheleta” by Jyotirmoyee Debi.

Meghna Roy, a member of the audience felt, “Not only was the session an articulate example of performance poetry, but it also was reminiscent of the essence of confluence of different cultures inherent in the Kolkata Literature Festival. As a literature aficionado, I thoroughly enjoyed it.”

“Every poem presented was heartfelt, emotional and deeply contemplative. Themes such as motherhood and the tangles
of family ties really strike a chord with the audience. I found this to be a wonderfully contemplative session, because of the grace with which something as delicate as relationship with family was presented.”
The session was a welcome change after a riveting discussion about the recently declassified Netaji files. In a literature festival, where most sessions are about novels and their authours, this session stood out for selecting two women poets and a theme that is much discussed.The session exuded warmth and love.


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