Archive Page 2

Launch of Khola Baksho 2008

‘Kalam: Margins Write’ cordially invites you to the launch of its annual literary magazine

Khola Baksho, 2008 Issue 2

April 12 2008, 5pm

Worldview Bookstore, Jadavpur University Campus
Subarna Jayanti Bhawan
188 Raja S C Mullick Road, Kolkata- 700 032

An annual magazine published under the initiative of Kalam:Margins Write, Khola Baksho is a platform for young people living in the urban margins of Kolkata (railway platforms, slums, red light areas and shelter homes) to share stories, reflections and artwork from their everyday lives. Khola Baksho started out with the belief that, instead of being defined by the world in many ways, the margins need to speak for themselves.


Kalam and Thoughtshop: Towards creating a sense of belonging with the community

In March-April, Kalam has been holding a series of 4-5 workshops with Thoughtshop Foundation, a Kolkata-Based social communications organization. Thoughtshop is in the process of conducting a 2-year process with certain para clubs with a mandate of social development, helping them to go beyond performing certain altruistic activities with the community throughout the year, equipping them to take on the role of para resource centres. The young people had already been trained to make hardcore surveys in the para, focussing on statistics, facts and figures. Kalam was asked to step in at this point and take these young people through certain experiences/processes that would build a sense of deep bonding and ownership with the community, as well as increase critical and creative thinking about the same.

We put together four sessions, partly inspired from Neighbourhood Diaries but diverging from it in many repects. We have been working with seven people from different communities, in the 21-27 years age range, from slumlike areas close to the Airport, Khidderpore, VIP road and Lake Gardens. The first session happened on 7th March, where we focussed on discussing the “geographical” vs “emotional” boundaries of a para, drawing a “personal Para Map”, and creatively writing about one’s para using the 5 senses. In the 2nd session on the 14th, we tried to reach an understanding of the sense of “home” within the para/community, as well as the diferent types of people within ones para, and how we could reach across to them. On the 28th, in the third session, we examined the different stages in our personal lives, what we were, what we are and what we are yet to become, recollecting memories as well as visualizing our roles in the community, and then went on to research parallely the stage-by-stage history of the community in the same way. In the 4th session on the 4th of April, we focussed on trying to bulid up a sense of belonging/pride with our community through the process of writing tourist book articles on our paras.

The process was quiet fruitful. We could see the sense of ownership with the para/community develop and deepen as the process of introspecting and critical thinking went on. We will meet these people for the 5th and final session after two weeks, in which we will try to clarify and redefine “para” and “community”. The participants will also create scrapbooks about their communities, putting together all the writing and artwork they have done with us so far, and adding snaps.

Meet Rohit, our new intern!

Rohit Dasgupta, a student of Comparative Literature from Jadavpur University, joined Kalam as an intern from March and will be with us for the next 6 months. He came to us as a fellow from Seagull’s Choice Programme. In his words…

“What really caught my curiosity was the fact that unlike so many other NGOs, this was one organisation which was concentrating on honing the creative skills of individuals from the marginalised parts of the society. Since the Literary arts are close to both my academic as well as extra-curricular interests, I chose to take on the challenge of working with Kalam. As an individual I love writing poetry, reading, and blogging prolifically, the three tools which have been coming handy as far as my work with Kalam is concerned.”

Rohit will be helping us with closely analyzing and documenting our literary arts workshops, as well as with blogging. He will further help Kalam create a bank of poems, vignettes, extracts, stories written/published in Bangla and Hindi (or in translation from foreign or other Indian languages) that are likely to appeal to young people who do not necessarily have advanced formal education.

See Rohit’s blog to know more about him and his perspectives.

posted by Urbi Bhaduri

Swindon Poet visits Kalam


Tony Hillier, a community poet, came to be with Kalam for about a week, from the 18th to the 26th of February, all the way from Swindon, UK. He has been to India eight times in the last four decades. He has spent his time working with difficult-to-reach people, both young and old, in shelter homes and on the streets, in hospitals and in rehab homes. He is 57 years old, brimful of ideas and energy, extremely attuned to poetic nuances hidden in the folds of ordinary conversations. Find out more about him on his blog.

In mid January, he had written to us on our blog, and dropped in once at our Poddarnagar office. He liked Kalam’s energy so much that he flew back again to spend creative time here. He was accompanied by his friend Shahid. Shahid divides his time between Kolkata (with his family’s food business in the New Market area) and the UK (where he helps his sister and brother-in-law with their business in Indian food).

After conversations about poetry, youth and social change over cups of tea at our office, Tony and Shahid accompanied us to our 4th session of Writing Out with Vikramshila. We had asked Tony if he could share some of his personal ideas about poetry-making with the youngsters. Tony opened his mammoth jhola and took out small packets of breakfast cereals which he had got from home. He asked the young people to first rattle them and explore what they sounded like to them. Did it rattle like a rattlesnake? Or a jewellery box? After this, they were asked to slowly examine the packets, to open them and, if they dared, to taste the contents. Being a poet and performer, he had them enthralled and tickled. The young people went on to name the cereals according to their fancy – Coco chips became chocolate muri and cornflakes became jhupri papor. They pored over their notebooks in solid red, yellow, green and black, and wrote about their experiences with the cereals, using the five senses of sight, sound, smell, touch and taste. Tony called the workshop space a “magic caravan” where amazing creativity was happening. He went on to do a collaborative poem with the kids on the blackboard, asking them to come up with their favorite English, Bangla and Hindi alphabets and words. The poem created thus did not mean much but was fun to do, and sounded interesting. Tony said that poetry does not always have to mean anything, it just is.

Tony has plans of coming back to Calcutta in November, with a group of poets from his circle. Programmes including poetry conversations on a boat ride on the Hoogly river and a trip to Santiniketan to explore poetic identities and mergings are in the pipeline.

posted by Urbi Bhaduri

New series of Writing Out with Vikramshila

Kalam has started a new series of Writing Out workshops with twelve young people of Vikramshila’s Nabodisha programme. Our sessions will happen henceforth at theVikramshila (VRS) centre opposite Lake Thana, Dhakuria, every Wednesday, 6-8 pm.

After our work with Durbar did not work out after the first couple of sessions, we went on to form a partnership with VRS. These youngsters, aged 12-16 years, had already been part of a programme with VRS in which they had explored things like self, roots/places of origin and personal neighbourhooods through writing. VRS wanted us to hone their craft and imagination more.

The first workshop happened on 16th January, 2008. It started off rather late as about six of them were coming in from Watgunj. But after half an hour’s delay, all of us were comfortably seated on a mat on the floor, with several tired, but eager faces around.

The first poetic attempt — a collaborative poem about “Rain”, most fertile of topics, follows.

Rain means —
A cloud-covered sky,
The joy of farmers.
Rain means children playing football,
Rain means downed shutters on the bus.
A pond filled with water,
Rain means the croak of a frog.
Small saplings budding,
Rain means walking with a raincoat on.

And one on “Night” —

Night means —
The cry of a jackal.
Seeing the night sky, the wish to write a story.
Night means being afraid,
And studying in the yellow light of a lamp.
Night means hanging out with friends in an open field,
Night means enjoying yourself in the midst of crowds on a Durga puja day.
Night means starting to dream.
Night means returning home,
And the twinkling of burning stars.

Re-Writing Bow Bazaar

Its been seven weeks since Neighbourhood Diaries started its work in Bow Bazaar, a popularly known ‘slum’ and ‘red-light area’ in Central Calcutta. Through the weekly workshops faciliated by staff Urbi Bhaduri and Bina Dalui,  youth journalists from Bow Bazaar have written about neighbourhood landmarks, homes, community personalties, and thriving industries of their locale. These young teenagers, armed with writing pads and ‘Para Journalist’ I.D. cards, are asserting their identity as researchers and storytellers of their neighborhood and community to re-write Bow Bazaar as a multi-faceted neighbourhood.

To follow the weekly writing and photography by these young writers, visit our Neighbourhood Diaries blog.  Furthermore, for more context on Neighbourhood Diaries in context to other citizen media projects around the world, check out updates and features on Diaries by Rising Voices.

Diaires Workshop

Youth journalists engage in conversation at one of the Diaires workshops at Bow Bazaar Highschool.

Neighbourhood Diaires Begins in Bow Bazaar

Neighbourhood Diairies – Kalam’s pilot citizen journalism program – started its 15-week workshop series this month.  This pilot program is underway with youth from Sanlaap in Bow Bazaar neighbourhood. Twelve young residents of Bow Bazaar ranging from the ages 14 to 18 meet every Monday at Bow Bazaar Highschool (rented out by Sanlaap as an evening community center) for a 2 hour workshop where neighborhood stories and culture are examined, discussed, and written by the young. 

Bow Bazaar Highschool 

In the coming weeks, we’ll continue to work in and through the neighbourhood as local journalists interviewing residents, observing and recording events, and listening and telling community stories. For weekly updates on Neighbourhood Diaries Bow Bazaar, visit our Diaries blog. Here you’ll find session plans, session assessments, workshop photographs, and writings from Diary Journalists.

Neigbourhood Diaires is a citizen writing program moblising young people living in ‘slums’ as citizen journalists to research, write and disseminate unrecognized and authentic community narratives in local and global media.  It is being funded by Rising Voices, the outreach wing of Global Voices.

posted by Sahar Romani