The Spring-Summer edition of Yugen Quest Review, 2022, joins old routes and new trails in the WE literary journey -tracing crucial moments, honouring people and their contributions, envisaging a greener future. It has the pleasure of introducing three gifted young poets - Sankalpita Mullick, Sharmista Sen Gupta and Nameera Anjum. This issue looks at the evolution of the WE Literary Community over six years of existence, and presents aspects of my own journey that led to its foundation. The collective love of poetry and nature is what binds us together at WE. During the deeply introspective pandemic years, in some 'Back to Earth' moments, a handful of my earthy artworks and poetry shone with new meaning, connecting the dots. Artworks like - 'Turning into Trees' (Spring 2016), that I had created featuring poets and friends in Spring 2016, Tree-Woman (watercolour, 2003), Peepwood (oil, 2003) offer a vital focus and speak to our core. In 2022, they assume centre-stage due to the pandemic and climate change, both necessitating a revised and renewed look towards a greener earth. Also, because returning to nature was the way we dealt with the pandemic here, writing for forests, rivers, oceans, and trees, in an immersive experience of love during the previous two difficult poetry writing months. This is the moment that connects our past, present, future, circling between spring 2016 and 2022, as a new green award is introduced. The WE Poe-TREE Green Hearts Award 2022 acknowledges and honours great writing and contribution during the pandemic years at our poetry writing space #CeWoPoWriMoWE (’20, ’21), and at WE Awards '20, respectively. The awards comprise prize money and saplings/seeds, and will be announced every two years. The 2022 Awardees were announced in March 2022, and the three categories (Earth, Diva, Meritorious) along with awardees are presented in the 'Recipients' and 'Community - People' sections in this issue. The following outline is a glimpse of the WE literary journey so far. This issue highlights its salient points. Smeetha Bhoumik
The WE Literary Journey
1. WE Literary Community Blossoming Essence of the New Recognition Poe-TREE Green Hearts Award 2022 Backdrop - Turning into Trees – Spring ‘16 Poetic Atmosphere (Spaces, Poets, Readings) Connecting Dots : Founder, WE, Community, Creations, Belonging 2. WE Women & Earth – Founder’s Focus Earth, Trees, Women, Universe Art – She Is (Oils, Pen & Ink), Tardigrades (Acrylic) She Is (Video), Tree-Woman (Watercolour, 2003), Peepwood Oils, 2003 Main theme of work – The Universe series Video - Turning Into Trees, 2016. Poetry – S-TREE (2012) I Speak Earth (2017, published – Writing Language, Culture..Anthology, 2018) Book - Where I Belong- Moments, Mist & Song – Reviewed by Urna Bose in this issue Poem – Glow (Sestina form). Written at GloPoWriMoWE 2017. 2. WE Come Into Being – Spring – Autumn ‘16 The Summer of '16 Conscious Healing Compass Reset Re-Imagine Transition Magical Blueprint WE Launch – Sept 2016 3. WE Highlights, Pandemic Times WE Awards, Evolution Life & Learning in the Pandemic Small Miracles in Slow Time Poetry Party WE Awards Announced – Dec ‘20 Learning Bears Fruit Gratitude 4. WE Tree – Literary Community Founding Members, Panel of Judges Award Winners Advisory Panel Editors. Contributors. New Young Poets WE Poe-TREE Green Hearts Awardees 2022 WE Towards A Greener World WE Timeline At A Glance Anthology – Equiverse Space – A Sound Home in Words (Editors -Smeetha Bhoumik, Kala Ramesh, Taseer Gujral, Abha Iyengar, Md. Farhan. Notion, 2018) Modern English Poetry by Younger Indians (Editor Sudeep Sen. WE poets writing at GloPoWriMoWE 2017 by TMS, selected by Smeetha Bhoumik. Sahitya Akademy,2019) Awards Established Year ‘18 - WE Kamala Das Poetry Award, Year ’20 - WE Eunice de Souza Poetry Award (English) WE Eunice de Souza Poetry Award (Languages) WE Trailblazer Poet-Teacher Award WE Gifted Poet Award Year ’18 Received the MAP Leadership Award Year ‘22 WE Poe-TREE Green Hearts Award 2022 (Roots in 2016, Fruition 2022) Proud Member CLMP Year ’18 CLMP Membership. Featured in CLMP Round-ups (2019, ‘20) Readings, Collaborations Year ’16 – ‘22 - WE Readings, Awards, Collaborations, Launches, Recordings 4. WE Poe-TREE Green Hearts Awards 2022 WE Poe-TREE Green Hearts Award (Earth) Recipients For Exemplary Poetry & Participation during #CeWoPoWriMoWE ’20, ‘21 Amita Paul, Rituparna Khan WE Poe-TREE Green Hearts Award (Diva) Recipient For Exemplary Poetry & Participation during #CeWoPoWriMoWE ’20, ’21 and WE Online Readings, Celebrations Lily Swarn WE Poe-TREE Green Hearts Award (Meritorious) Recipient For Exceptional Contribution to WE Literary Community & WE Awards Nishat Haider, Taseer Gujral, Somrita Urni Ganguly
WE Literary CommuniTREE, Spring 2022
Yugen Quest Review Special Edition 2, Aug/Sept ’21
Yugen Quest Review
- Special Edition, Issue 2, Aug ’21
- WE Core Poets, Translations
- Art, Essay, Book Review, Author Space
- Cover Art ‘The Reader’ by Shweta Rao Garg
The second Special Edition of Yugen Quest Review is a translation special issue, adorned with beautiful art, and carries a book review, a book excerpt, an essay and author space . It presents poetry in English & languages, along with translations. The languages highlighted are Punjabi, Marathi, Bengali, Hindi, Urdu, Tamil, French, German, Spanish.
Making Moments Count
Weaving through the long, arduous hours of Mostly@Home time, poets and artists have once again spun myriad dreams and emotions into offerings of love.
The mystical powers of the human mind to process experiences of all kinds and transform them in creative ways is evidence of the ‘yugen’ so precious in all art and beauty.
The process is as important as the outcome.
Yugen, a Japanese word at the heart of aesthetics in Japan, is of ancient Chinese philosophical origin, suggesting mysterious depths and beauty. It evokes rather than states, hinting at profound experiences. Its many shades and nuances are an invitation to be ever ready for a fleeting glimpse, an elusive touch of something quite simple yet hauntingly beautiful, almost indefinable, that the human spirit seeks in its journey through life.
In the words of Zeami Motokiyo -‘To contemplate the flight of wild geese seen and lost among the clouds.’
I have held my breath and then breathed out in wonder at the way everyone of us has responded to recent challenging, difficult and tragic situations with all our humanity.
This issue carries art created from the depths of feeling and love. The artists are Shweta Rao Garg and Sonali Pattnaik, both gifted poets, writers, artists and academics.
The issue is a special edition because it continues to feature the work of WE Core poets, and poetry from our #CeWoPoWriMoWE writing space, including the work of three new poets; and presents startling ideas in an essay ‘The Art of Writering’, penned by lightweaver, expert NLP facilitator, scholar Bhavana Nissima.
Gayatri Lakhiani Chawla’s poetry collection ‘The Empress‘, is reviewed by Antara Banerjee. Antara shares her thoughts on her latest venture ‘Tales of a Nocturnal Sojourn‘.
A delightful excerpt from Sujatha Mathai‘s novel ‘Sheuli’s Star‘ finds space here.
Special felicitations once again to Rituparna Khan, for the admirable feat of writing exquisite poetry everyday starting April 1 and culminating July 31, 2021. Kudos Rituparna !
The poetry featured in this issue is extra special for the flavours of different languages it carries. It is a melding of emotions and linguistic expression, a quest for oneness with words….
Gratitude to everyone for sharing their work. Special thanks to Bina Sarkar Ellias and Priya Sarukkai Chabria for participating with their treasures of translation.
Yugen Quest Review, 2nd Special Edition, Aug ’21, carries the works of Sujatha Mathai, Bina Sarkar Ellias, Priya Sarukkai Chabria, Anju Makhija, Amita Paul, Smita Bahuguna Agarwal, Vinita Agarwal, Taseer Gujral, Somrita Urni Ganguly, Shweta Rao Garg, Peter Fogtdal, Lily Swarn, Abha Iyengar, Gayatri Lakhiani Chawla, Jasmine Khurana, Antara Banerjee, Baisali Chatterjee Dutt, Rituparna Khan, Bhavana Nissima, Jagari Mukherjee, Paramita Mukherjee Mullick, Sonali Pattnaik, Amrita Valan, Lina Krishnan, Sudeshna Mukherjee, Neha Mishra Jha, Sanjeev Kaushal, Priyal Panchal, Debarati Sen, Isabel Miguel, Philippe Safavi, Johannes Beiharz, Smeetha Bhoumik
Yugen Quest Review, Special Edition, Issue 1, June,’21
Selected Poems from #CeWoPoWriMoWE’21 and WE Awards ’20
Celebrating the magic of poetry at #CeWoPoWriMoWE this year again has been very special, as we wrote together keeping fears at bay and infusing hope all through the pandemic days of April, May, June ’21. In the growing gloom, we brought our minds to bear on the wonders of nature, scaling snowy peaks of verse, singing paeans to our rivers and bountiful forests. Awash in oceans of love we kept the poetry flowing. The tears came, the fear ebbed and flowed, but poetry swept on…and is still going on…
April ’21 – #CeWoPoWriMoWE
and in the deathly gloom we lingered,
flickering candles of
of miraculous nature
and kept writing on….
In a quiet moment of contemplation, while I tried to clear the mind of all thought, the above lines had presented themselves.
An April aflame, searing through flesh and blood and flowing into the mind, its fear kept inching forward, incipient as the heat.
In a parallel poetic universe though, there were rosy river paths and forest treks deliberately sought and celebrated in this atmosphere of hopelessness. To stay afloat in times of crisis, the inner work required becomes as vital as the essentials of exercise, healthy intake, prayer and meditation. One needs to consciously work on inner strength, building a stubborn resilience and staying power.
Augmenting hope in the face of everything that tries to negate it, is the biggest challenge, and it can be learnt. Not only for oneself, but to be of service to others, for care-giving is an arduous and often underrated task, rendering a person vulnerable in many ways. In this deadly pandemic raging in India, we needed every tiny precious bit of it.
Believe me when I say that we needed a dogged persistence to keep our spirits up just when they were plummeting rock bottom, and many around us were losing hope, or worse, tagging it as ‘toxic positivity’. Words have power as life ceaselessly teaches us, and this pandemic has not just eaten away at our bodies, but played with our minds too.
The very term ‘toxic positivity’ is a slap in the face of all that is resilient, beautiful, full of hope and courage. One cannot be positive enough.
If the absurd term is being used to denote a cosmetic positivity not backed by right actions, then it is a failure on the part of users who do the notion of true resilience great disservice, especially in these times when mental health is paramount. ‘Empty Sounds‘ would have been a much better choice of words perhaps, for an affected positivity. But of course, drama lay in the debilitating one !
Staying immune to such suggestions that bring guilt to bear upon our greatest gift is not an easy task. It requires work. Thankfully, there are great books out there, like Viktor Frankl’s The Search For Meaning, that continue to offer radiance and hope to readers.
Okay, ‘nuf said !
Did you hear me say ‘forest treks‘?
Yes, and not only that, we entered more spaces of wonder and delight this summer of poetic expression at #CeWoPoWriMoWE !
There were glorious, living, breathing moments of tear-soaked joy as we wrote and composed, accented by the raging pandemonium outside, safe within our fragile poetic bubbles, so ephemeral, so transient, it could burst the very next moment. Oh, how we clung on for dear life ! We wrote of love and tears, our dreams and fears, white crested peaks, foaming rivers and the very edges of existence where only hope and prayers prevail.
Poetry for us has never been an add-on elective, or a luxurious choice; poetry is at our core . It forms the axis around which we keep spinning wheels of hope. No Poetry- No Life, seems to be our mantra as chaos rages outside, and locked down, we trek on poetic trails. The grief, the loss permeating everything is palpable, and somehow we make it through April and keep writing into May and beyond, buoyed by the rhythmic tone of our togetherness. Each one of us, like countless others, carries a blistering awareness of the virus coming closer and closer….its tentacles bared….snatching away life and bonds.
The act of writing bestows a measure of grace and an intense appreciation of the present moment, for the true gift it is.
A special note of admiration and appreciation for Amita Paul here, who, besides writing exquisite poetry every day, survived the dreaded virus and emerged healthy at the end of April. It is an honour to have written with her. Her poetry has received immense appreciation in many poetic platforms this summer, acknowledged with awards and accolades.
Adoration also for Lily Swarn, our WE Diva of the World, whose beauteous creations leave us inspired and enthralled.
Special mention for the dedicated, diligent, brilliant academic and poet Rituparna Khan, who has the unique distinction of writing to all prompts starting April 1 all through May and June till date. Kudos !
Thanks to all the gifted poets who shared their luminous thoughts generously and with love.
May happiness form
in the glow of your
Of Guiding Lights & Glimmering Hope
Judges – WE Awards
Nishat Haider, Taseer Gujral, Somrita Urni Ganguly
Guests of Honour @WE
Mahabanoo Mody Kotwal, Kala Ramesh, Priya Sarukkai Chabria, Dr. Radhakrishnan Pillai, Nisha JamVwal, Menka Shivdasani, Anju Makhija, Bina Sarkar Ellias
Kiranjeet Chaturvedi, Pervin Saket, Maya Sharma Sriram
WE Our Space Anthology
Kala Ramesh, Taseer Gujral, Abha Iyengar, Mohd. Farhan,
Smeetha Bhoumik (Chief Editor)
WE Awards ’17, ’18, ’20
2017 – Special Awards – Mahabanoo Mody Kotwal, Menka Shivdasani, Priya Sarukkai Chabria
2018 – Kamala Das Poetry Awards – Sujatha Mathai
’20 – WE Awards – Kamala Das Poetry Award – Sanjukta Dasgupta. WE TRailblazer Poet Teacher – Kala Ramesh. WE Eunice de Souza Award (Eng) – Menka Shivdasani. WE Eunice de Souza Award (Hindi) – Savita Singh. WE Trailblazer Poet Teacher (Posthumus)- Eunice de Souza. WE Gifted Poet Award – Rukhaya MK and Jagari Mukherjee
ICWP Prize – Abha Iyengar, Srividya Sivakumar, Lily Swarn, Pervin Saket, Shweta Garg, Jasmine Khurana, Maya Sharma Sriram, Tikuli Dogra
WE Special Recognition Certificates – WE Glowing Diamond – Somrita Urni Ganguly. WE Diva of the World – Lily Swarn. WE Sci-Fi – Shuchi Kapoor, Neha Mishra Jha, Urna Bose. WE Divine Verse – Pervin Saket. WE, the Force – Maya Sharma Sriram. WE Poetry Fairy – Rochelle Potkar. WE Spoken Word Diva – Jasmine Khurana. WE Glowing Aesthete – Shweta Garg, Tikuli Dogra. WE Core, Gifted Souls – Nishat Haider, Vinita Agarwal, Taseer Gujral, Somrita Urni Ganguly, Gayatri Chawla, Shuchi Kapoor. WE SASSY – Sreemoyee Piu Kundu, Bhavana Nissima.
Curator/ Host/Poet/ Collaborator
Menka Shivdasani, Kala Ramesh, Bina Sarkar Ellias, Priya Sarukkai Chabria, Santosh Bakaya, Gjv Prasad Anju Makhija, Charanjeet Kaur, Smita Agarwal, Zeenat Khan, Upal Deb, Kalpna Singh Chitnis, Hemant Divate, Smruti Divate, Sudeep Sen Steffen Horstmann, Sanjeev Khandekar, Arundhathi Subramaniam, Rochelle Potkar, Nishat Haider, Taseer Gujral, Vinita Agarwal, Pervin Saket, Maya Sharma Sriram, Nabina Das, Shuchi Kapoor, Sumana Roy, Lina Krishnan, Mallika Bhaumik, Jayashree Hari Joshi, Sita Murugan, Gayatri Chawla, Antara Banerjee, Abha Iyengar, Somrita Urni Ganguly, Urna Bose, Sanket Mhatre, Sudeep Pagedar Ankita Shah, Neha Mishra Jha, Ishmeet Nagpal, Inam Hussain Mullick, Amit Shankar Saha, Mbizo Chirasha, Tendai Rinos Mwanaka, Jhilmil Breckenridge (Inauguration), Anjali Purohit, Smita Sahay,
US Consulate, Women Scream Poetry & Art Festival, Sahitya Akademi, The Goethe Institut, Max Mueller Bhavan, 100 TPC, TPC, MAP Fest, All Aboard Crossover Poems, Write & Beyond Group, G5A and more…
In This Inaugural Issue
WE ’20 Awards
Poetry Through the Years