Monday, 19 June 2017


The Serpent Crawls Down

The serpent crawls down ninety pyramid steps
as the equinox light pierces
through the temple window to kiss its head.
East, south, north darken
as its vertebrae creep on hot west stones
while a thousand cheering voices
resonate Mayan walls in Chichen Itza.
What are they celebrating?
Is it the lost?
Or the tourism through the dug outs & the remnants?
Where have the Mayans gone? Who could tell?
As we walk pass the stoned pyramid, hollow ball field,
hanging hoops, listening to colorful stories from guides
to the next resort, tequila bars, swimming pools.
We break bread; bathe in the bright Mayan sun of Cancun,
talk, complain about foods, and put on sun tan lotion.
We forget, we sleep, dream the ruins
as the serpent crawls across the scorching fields.

First published in Rattapallax Magazine, NYC.

Goutam Datta is the author of five books of poems; He writes in both English and Bengali . He is the co-editor of African American poetry Anthology Ami Amar Mritur Por Sadhinota Chai Na (I Do Not Want My Freedom When I Am Dead ) with Sunil Gangopadhyay. His works are included in "A Mingling of Waters", an anthology of Bengali and American authors and Rattapallax magazine. Goutam won Jassimuddin Poetry Award(India) in 2005 for Borofay Holood Fool. Sudhindranath Award in 2008, Vashangar Award in 2017. At present, Goutam is working on a webzine Uralpool to create a continuous literary exchange between India & the USA.

Wednesday, 14 June 2017

KUSHAL PODDAR - Featured Poet

Houses Without Rooms

Tonight the wife 
living on a handcart 
outside your house
will writhe under
her drunken husband
and will swear-

Never more!

and will love him ever more,
and their daughter will know-
tomorrow she will have
a new doll her father 
can never afford.

Tonight I strolled

all the way to your house.
It remains painted white.
Back on my bed I ride
a handcart of sleep
with you and our Cain and Abel.
I promise I shall buy
a toy earth for each of them,
if you let me fix the heaven again.

Kushal Poddar is presently living at Kolkata and writing poetry. He authored chapbook ‘The Circus Came To My Island’ (Spare Change Press), full length books “A Place For Your Ghost Animals” (Ripple Effect Publishing) and Knowing The Neighborhood  (Black Rune Press, Australia), Scratches Within (Amazon), "Kleptomaniac's Book of Unoriginal Poems" (BRP, Australia).

Monday, 5 June 2017

SHARMILA RAY - Featured Poet

Valentine’s Day

So much for Valentine’s day
and for all the red roses and red cakes, bunnies and cards…
Laden with fragrance, fluttering glances and anonymous agonies,
love rides on the wind, draped in a shawl of cobweb –clouds, descending
on the city, interweaving with coffee, almond biscotti and stale air conditioning.

In a dimly lit suburb she dreams, making her way through midnight diaries
extending her today to tomorrow and syncing her yesterday with the present.

In malls lovers loll in beer, burger and hallucinating smoke, each a small god
 holding love tight in an hour-glass.

On the fifth floor of a housing complex under a shaded lamp, a scholar writes
a discourse on love beginning with in other words…

Precisely at that moment love snatches a line of Emily Bronte to anoint-
Cold in the earth- and the deep snow piled above thee

Between daybreak and end of the day
Love slides immaculately into many sheaths.
Perhaps, love is trivia
perhaps, love is lost in the labyrinth of language.


Sharmila Ray is a poet and non-fiction essayist, anthologized and featured in India and abroad. Her poems, short stories and non fictional essays have appeared in various national and international magazines and journals. She teaches in City College, Kolkata under Calcutta University where she is an Associate Professor and Head of the Department of History. She was on the English Board of Sahitya Akademi. She was the editor of The Journal (Poetry Society India) and looked after a column Moving Hand Writes, Times Of India, Kolkata. She writes in English and has authored eight books of poetry; Earth Me And You (Granthalaya, Kolkata 1996), A Day With Rini (Poetry And Art 1998), Down Salt Water (Poets Foundation, Kolkata 1999), Living Other Lives (Minerva Press, New Delhi, Mumbai, London 2004), It’s Fantasy, It’s Reality (Punaschya, Kolkata 2010), With Salt And Brine (Yeti Publishers, Calicut 2013), Windows (Blank Rune Press, Australia 2016), Scrawls And Scribbles (Hawakal Publishers, Kolkata, 2016). She conducted poetry workshops organized by British Council, Poetry Society of India, Sahitya Akademi. She had been invited to International Struga Poetry Evenings, in Macedonia where she represented India and International poets meet in Kerala to share stage with Ben Okri. She was the only poet writing in English from West Bengal to participate in VAK –the first poetry biennial held in New Delhi. She has been reading her poems in various parts of the country. Her poems have been translated into Hindi, Bengali, Urdu, Manipuri, Slovene, Hebrew and Spanish.  Currently she is working on a manuscript of non-fictional essays.           

Tuesday, 30 May 2017


Rhythm Divine Poets Poetry Chapbook Contest Guidelines 2017

1. The poetry chapbook contest is being organized by Rhythm Divine Poets, a Kolkata-based poets group co-founded by three poets (Dr. Amit Shankar Saha, Sufia Khatoon and Anindita Bose) for the promotion of poetry.
2. The length of the chapbook should be between 24-30 pages of poems.
3. The language should be English.
4. There is no theme.
5. There is no submission fee.
6. There is no restriction of nationality to enter the contest.
7. Entry is limited to one manuscript per poet. No simultaneous submission allowed.
8. Only poets who have no full-length book published (singly or co-authored) and not more than one chapbook published (singly or co-authored) are eligible for entry.
9. The manuscript should be formatted in Times New Roman with 12 size font and should have a content page.
10. The manuscript should be in MS Word document bearing the title of the chapbook and the name of the poet.
11. Manuscript should be submitted by email to with the subject line “Submission – Chapbook 2017 – (Name of the Poet)”
12. The email should have: (a) a short bio of the poet, (b) a declaration that the entire manuscript is an original work and the poet bears the copyright to it, (c) a declaration that the manuscript has not been published as a whole in any format before, (d) if individual poems have been published in any journals/ magazines/ periodicals/ anthologies (print or online) then those details should be provided, (e) full contact details of the poet, (f) any disclosures that may be relevant.
13. The winner and the runner-up will be provided 20 printed copies of their chapbooks. More copies can be bought from Rhythm Divine Poets. Postage to be borne by foreign/ outstation poets. Rhythm Divine Poets will list the chapbooks in their blog for print-on-demand orders and will also make copies available at their events for prospective buyers.
14. Additionally, the winner and the runner-up will be provided certificates.
15. The launch event of the chapbooks will be held in Kolkata.
16. The last date of submission of manuscript is 5th July, 2017.
17. A panel of internal and external judges will be formed. At any stage of the contest (longlisting, shortlisting, finale) any two external judges from the panel will be engaged. The internal judges will be generally responsible for monitoring the technical aspects of judging and resolving contentious issues that may arise. Secrecy will be maintained regarding which judge is judging which part of the contest.
18. No participating poets will contact any external judge regarding this matter. Each manuscript will be provided a unique number and sent to the external judges without any identification mark of the poet.
19. After submission of your manuscript please be sure that you receive an acknowledgement email from Rhythm Divine Poets within a week. If you do not receive it then do email us. 
20. Keep checking Rhythm Divine Poets blog ( and/ or Facebook page ( for periodic updates. 
21. Rhythm Divine Poets will try to maintain the expected timeline of the contest subject to contingencies.
22. By entering the contest the participating poet grants Rhythm divine Poets the exclusive right to publish the submitted manuscript as a chapbook. 
23. The decision of the organizers will be final and binding and no disputes will be entertained.
24. Any violation of the guidelines will disqualify the participating poet. 
25. Rhythm Divine Poets will maintain strict ethical standards in conducting this contest and will expect the same from the participating poets.

External Judges:
Sanjukta Dasgupta, Sharmila Ray, Kushal Poddar… and many more.
Internal Judges:
Amit Shankar Saha, Sufia Khatoon and Anindita Bose.

Chapbook and more...

 A chapbook is a small book with not more than 36 pages at most and having a small print run and limited circulation. Chapbooks have a history behind them and form a narrative intrinsic to the development of print technology. It is especially poetry chapbooks that have made poetry, a predominantly oral art in its origins, into an art form that can be read at leisure. There are numerous small-time printing presses that produce chapbooks in Britain, USA, Australia, etc. Chapbook competitions are quite prevalent in the West and they are often highly esteemed. Some of these have substantial print runs like the competition run by Rattle. It is a mode of giving recognition to upcoming poets who may not have the visibility to be picked up by traditional publishers of poetry. Often publishers may not have the knowhow to judge the quality of a poet and thereby ignore publishing him/ her. Here the chapbook competitions play a major role to complement the poetry publishers by giving them a list of poets who have the quality to get published traditionally. This also causes an intervention in the ever increasing scourge of vanity publishing. Moreover, chapbooks themselves being print publications, give a boost to the poet by bringing his work in print and distributing it. Chapbooks also cause a break in the increasingly polarized sector of publishing where quality and respectability is closely allied with high economic factor. Chapbooks having low overhead costs of production reduce the importance of economic factor in giving recognition to quality work. Chapbook publishers like Black Rune Press run by Vali Poole in an Australian city is an example of how a good alternative can be had that can challenge the monopoly of behemoth publishers who publish established names or marketable genres. In India, especially in Kolkata, there are little magazine publishers who actually publish small books which are like chapbooks but they are inconspicuous and are often given a reserved section in a book fair and thereby reeking of a hierarchy. Rhythm Divine Poets by having this poetry chapbook competition will bring into focus and return respectability to chapbooks in India. It will also attempt to destabilize the monolithic poetry publication industry. Rhythm Divine Poets believe that monopoly breeds mediocrity and in turn extinguishes readers’ interests. 

It was last year when in conversation with the co-founders of Rhythm Divine poets the noted poet Dr. Sharmila Ray mentioned her desire to revive her Art and Poetry project and publish chapbooks but unfortunately it did not go ahead. But under her encouragement Rhythm Divine Poets decided to take it forward in the form of a chapbook competition, which India does not have. When the guidelines were being framed other external judges, apart from Sharmila Ray, namely Prof. Sanjukta Dasgupta, Kushal Poddar and other eminent poets were consulted and a tentative timeline was posted in early May. It was done so because April being the global poetry writing month would see many poets with at least thirty poems ready, which is the maximum requisite number of poems that can be submitted for this competition. When the guidelines were announced on 30th May, quality manuscripts from India as well as abroad started pouring in. Since we have made the eligibility criteria whereby no poets with a book published or not more than one chapbook published can enter the competition, we have been getting inquiries whether a self-published book counts as a publication and we have said yes to that. This effectively discourages people from paying to get published because in a world of online networking sites like Facebook which gives a democracy of expression of one’s poetic creations a true poet has to ask himself/ herself whether he deserves putting a price to one’s poetic creation. And conversely, is that monetary value actually worth a brilliant creation? Poetry is not a painting where there is one original and numerous replicas. The original poetry is only in the head of the poet and therefore it is the poet who is the actual valued object of art. His creations are only imitations of his thoughts and expression concretized in words. These words may be given a flux of visible presence in stone slabs or Facebook page or chapbook or a full-length book. The external media that carry these words do not determine the value of the words. All that is required is aesthetic presentation of the compilation. In that sense a chapbook is worth gold-letters in expensive vellum. Rhythm Divine Poets, who pride themselves of their ethical standards, their zero-tolerance policy towards plagiarism, and honesty of purpose as embedded in their manifesto and evident in their actions, thinks this will be a shot in the arm for the poetry scene in India. Albeit from a limited domain of functioning in Kolkata we carve a prestigious niche in the world of poetry by administering poetic literacy to future poets. We thank all the judges who have joined us in this endeavor and put faith on us.

Monday, 29 May 2017

DUANE VORHEES -Featured Poet


At the temple festival the tables went humming under the cabbage, rice, and melons. The summer sun waning. The baldbearded helium balloons dancing grandly among nubile paper lanterns, buddhas bronze/rotund. Ah, the season it was of Experience Superior – the feelings of love and the perceived reciprocity of love, when, past all balance and sense and generational propriety, exuberant amidst the consuming and consumed, we two, lanternballoon-alike, food and Buddha commingled, music and the truth congealed.

That’s why your paradox didn’t register at the time.

And the Children happy as tadpoles aswim in father’s river. And the Children pampered like feathers adrift in mama’s balloon.

Now my beauty   r   e   a   c   h   e   s      o     u     t   in search of your moist and hidden cottage. (Remember the crisp sunflowers asmoke unkempt against the steep/&damp scampismelly dirt path. Recall the rose-of-sharon labyrinth oft-credited – before and since – as the soul’s taoWay, eelslick & serpent straight, into the nirvanic heart of notUnbeing.) Your thatched and pointed little house. . . it’s not where last I fingered its locks. The knobs now I’m told are handled some other where.
But even so, blind and blind, my beauty reaches out
reaches                             out
my blind beauty reaches
                                                                out into cold and empty vacuum.

And the Children pampered like feathers adrift in mama’s balloon, and the Children dappled in shadow a joy in haughty first light.

Your holy mantra for the season: I love you can’t love you. And the rutting neophyte at your knees picked at the koan’s echoed contradictions. I angled it in the light, squinting along its crosshairs, but the scope just would not focus. Flash powder applied, I tried to freeze it in its frame. But the quiver could never quite gel. Dusted for prints, but no proper whorl ever emerged to point its finger conclusively. “I love you can’t love you.” I parsed the riddle into phonemic meaninglessness but the significance never decoded. Affixed onto the acrylic stage for minutest examination, clarity persistently remained at yet one remove. Until Enlightenment came at last, slowly in a rush. I’d always known you’d go, of course, but not so suddenly. And not so soon. The painful puzzle pieces shuttered into place. And the Children dappled in shadow a joy in haughty first light, and the Children, dapper as bluejays, agreed in bawdy verdure. I love you can’t love you. Clause the first personal, in classic equipoise with clause two cultural. Subject-clause by predicate controlled, the halving twins yining and yanging about, plus and minus all at once. The treasured self, forbidden/desired, embraced/abhorred.

(My fellow anthropologists, take careful note: her heart’s harsh judgment was conditioned by decades and millennia of micromacroforming. Metaphorically speaking, as such, I am the incest taboo. In those society eyes, I 'm the catamite in the homophobic gymn, the nigger in the genepool, the sheep in the unbleating humanfold. In objective terms, and all in econocultural context of course, her loving me was always the equivalent of fucking the corpse.)

And the Children, dapper as bluejays agreed in bawdy verdure, and all us Children vampiric taters asleep in God’s root cellar.

But the mantramoth, addicted, tethered herself to the tortured flame. The cycle doomed to turn and flutter, return and flutter, and flutter away. Return again, again away, covering and recovering the same old ground, rut after rut after rut again.

And koan’s mystery deepens.

But the Children happy as tadpoles.

Duane Vorhees taught various subjects for the University of Maryland University College programs in Korea and Japan while being active in the Seoul Artist Network open mics. He retired to Thailand in 2014 and now reads, writes, interacts with his wife and seven-year-old son, and maintains

Monday, 22 May 2017


Lakshmi Unbound: A Soliloquy

“ Killing the Angel in the House was part of the occupation of a woman writer”

                                                                       Virginia Woolf

With downcast eyes and veiled head
I have spent twenty-two years in your house
That’s why both at home and without
Everyone says I am Lakshmi, Sati
An extremely good woman!

                                             Freedom ( Mukti  Rabindranath Tagore)

Don’t, don’t, call me Lakshmi

I can’t ever be Lakshmi

I want to fly kites

I want to climb trees

I want to read and write

I want to sing and dance

I want to climb mountains

I want to swim in the seas

I want to do what I like

Whenever I like

I want to be mad

I want to be bad

I can’t be in corners of four walled spaces

I can’t be in eddies

I want to flow in the mainstream

I want to be in whirlpools

I want to roam and run

I want to eat fruits from trees

I want to drink to the last drop

The juice of grapes

I want to cook for myself

I want to dream

I want to pace the rainbow arch

In a spectacular hallucination

I can’t be Lakshmi

I will ever fail this endurance test

I have to speak

I have to cry

I have to scream

I have to laugh

I have to swim in rivers

I cannot swim in pools

I want to fly like an eagle

I want to glide like a feather

 I will forever fail this endurance test

I have flung off the Sellotape on my lips

I will sing the freedom song

I may not be Lakshmi

But I am

I just can’t be Lakshmi

I have to break the silence

My wealth is not jewels

My wealth is my gipsy spirit

I can’t be Lakshmi

I can’t be good, sane, silent Lakshmi

I can’t be the Angel in someone’s house

I don’t want to be a disembodied spirit

I don’t want to be Lakshmi

I am Alakshmi

Trap me if you can!

(c) Sanjukta Dasgupta (This poem is taken from her latest book of poems titled Lakshmi Unbound)

Dr.Sanjukta Dasgupta, Professor and Former Head, Dept of English and Former Dean, Faculty of Arts, Calcutta University is a poet, critic and translator.  She is the recipient of numerous national and international grants and fellowships and has given poetry readings in India, Europe and the USA.

Apart from her books on literary studies, media and gender studies, translations and Tagore studies, her articles, poems, short stories and translations have been published in journals of distinction in India and abroad. 

Her published volumes of poems are Snapshots( Writers Workshop)  Dilemma (Anustup) First Language (Dasgupta Book Company), More Light ( Dasgupta Book Company) and Lakshmi Unbound ( Chirangi 2017)

Monday, 15 May 2017

NEAL HALL - Featured Poet

Black Face, White Mask

to keep deep    
a distance from which they         
can’t see in me
a distance from which
I can’t feel me in me, I’m             
Indoctrinated an ala-baster’d self-hate
to paint my black face beneath
white powdered lies and alibis
relegated a caste clown face,
when all lives matters why my face,       
why make-up my face a cash cow clown,
a round the clock house negro selling out
to sold  out crowds of ala-baster’d men
making me up in make-up to cover up my pain,
my disgrace, my fate of white powdered self-hate
they paint dark faces of darker races
when all lives matter,
with bleaching cream screams, 
I white powder me
so that I can’t see black in me,
so that  I keep skin deep distance between
black me and wanna be white me you've
brainwashed me to be
no upside on the down side       
of the flipped up side of a frown
on a made up clown,     
made up in white face make-up to be
the grinning black faced white clown fool,
the court’s jester dressed in mental slavery,
an inner circle fool entertaining, juggling
peddling bi-pedaled tricycles around a three ringed
outer circle of circular white lies and alibis


Poet Neal Hall is a medical-surgical eye physician and graduate of Cornell and Harvard Universities. An internationally acclaimed poet, he has composed poetry and performed readings throughout the U. S. and internationally to include: Kenya, Indonesia, France, Jamaica, Morocco, Canada, Nepal, Italy, Ghana, Japan, India and Germany. Dr. Hall is an award-winning author of four books of poetry: Nigger For Life, reflecting his painful discovery, that in “unspoken America," race is the one thing by which he is first judged, first measured and metered diminished value, dignity, equality and justice. Winter’s A’ Coming Still reflecting the more things are said to change, the more things are made to stay the same. His third book is Where Do I Sit. Appalling Silence represents selections of his work translated into Telugu and Urdu and published in India. His sixth book Door of No Return will be released in the fall of 2017. His work has been translated into 5 additional languages: Bengali, Kannada, German, Japanese and Italian. The latter translated (5th book) for a Critical Edition of his work in Italian to be published in Rome, Italy. Three collaborating Italian scholars performed the translations and critical analysis. Professor Kazuteru Omori, Director, Dept of African American Studies, Hokkai Gakuen University, Sapporo, Japan, has translated a collection of Hall’s work into Japanese. The collection is to be published in Japan.

Sunday, 30 April 2017


On 26th April Rachana Mitra Mustafy hosted a gang of Rhythm Divine Poets including Neal Hall for an evening of poetry and music. 

On 13th April, 2017, Rhythm Divine Poets hosts poet and curator Duane Vorhees of Duane's Poetree ( at CCD, Dumdum. 

Duane Vorhees writes about Rhythm Divine Poets meeting with him at CCD, Dumdum, in Setu Magazine. He also quotes poems recited by Amit Shankar Saha, Kushal Poddar, Inam Hussain Mullick, Aparajita Dutta and Kiriti Sengupta. Visit: 

 On 28th March, 2017, Rhythm Divine Poems performed a Poetic Play titled Transcend (written by Sufia Khatoon) at the English Department Seminar on "The Multilingual Nature of Poetry" at Rohinton Kapadia Hall, St. Xavier's College, Kolkata. 

Rhythm Divine Poets with Barun Chanda and Dr. Jaydeep Sarangi

At the gate of St. Xavier's College after the event

The audience at Rohinton Kapadia Hall

Saturday, 22 April 2017

Event - Kolkata - 26th April 2017

Neal Hall reads his poems at Jadavpur University 
Wednesday, 26th April  3:30 pm
Buddhadeva Bose Sabhaghar