By Aju Mukhopadhyay
Veils, Halos and Shackles, an international anthology of poetry was conceived in the wake of the gang rape and torture of Jyoti Singh Pandey (a physiotherapy student) by six brutes in a moving bus in New Delhi on the night of December 16, 2012, resulting in her death in a few days. It contains 250 poems by 180 poets, most of whom are women except some two dozen male voices living in different countries of the world. Most of the contributors are from the Indian subcontinent and the United States of America. It is for the first time that poets have opened their hearts and expressed their feelings about different forms of oppression and torture on women and the ways of their empowerment on such a large scale, making a global impact of the grave issue.
Indian women poets were heard for the first time in the Vedas (Sukta) in ancient time. Then the women monks of the Buddhist order also wrote some poetry followed by their progeny at different historical times flowing down to the modern age. To speak about the continuance of such enterprises we can mention one anthology that reached my hands. Roots and Wings (Ed. Annie George and Sandhya S N. Thiruvananthapuram: Roots and Wings. 2011. Paperback) is an anthology of 350 poems by 42 Indian woman poets from almost all the states of India. Though it does not concentrate on woman abuse of different types, their free voices are heard here; they speak about their problems including male domination and torture in different ways; ways of woman’s freedom in patriarchal society. Veils, Halos and Shackles is one of the largest projects in modern time. It has gained esteem as the woman’s hope for a better future.