44. Veils, Halos and Shackles: Creating Awareness, Bringing Hope

Author: Nola Published: about 1 year ago.
Tags: poetry, Adele Jones, anthology, oppression, abuse, hope, empowerment, Smita Sahay, women, social justice, Charles Adès Fishman, Mazzy Adams Category: Blog tour

The evening of 16 December 2012 started out well for 23-year-old Jyoti Singh and her male companion Awindra Pratap Pandey. They went to the movies to watch The Life of Pi and then boarded a private charter bus in South Delhi for the journey home. However, things quickly took a sinister turn. Awindra was knocked unconscious and Jyoti was savagely beaten, raped and tortured by the other six men on the bus. Awindra survived, but Jyoti tragically died from her injuries 13 days later.

This incident created an uproar in India and around the world. Protests led to a re-examination of laws to help female victims of sexual assault and other violent crimes. However, the sad fact is that many women and men still suffer from abuse and oppression. What can be done to create awareness of these issues and seek positive change?

Poets Charles Adès Fishman (United States) and Smita Sahay (India) decided to collaborate on an international anthology of poetry to highlight the oppression and empowerment of women. The result is the landmark book Veils, Halos and Shackles, published by Kasva Press in Israel.

The 555-page book contains over 250 poems from more than 180 poets in dozens of countries. A unique feature of the book is that it also includes statements by each poet regarding the stories behind their poems. For some this was a highly personal endeavour, as they shared about their own experiences of abuse. For others, it was a chance to stand in solidarity with their sisters and brothers.

The book has received excellent reviews and can be purchased from Amazon as a print book or e-book.

I'm fortunate to have my poem Petals in the anthology. A number of my friends have been physically or sexually abused. While those experiences were certainly traumatic for them, I've also seen a resilience in those friends as they've reached out to help others. My poem reflects the hope that some good can come out of the most tragic of circumstances. You can read the poem here.

My close friends and writing colleagues Adele Jones and Cathie Sercombe (now writing as Mazzy Adams) also have poems in the anthology. On Saturday 8 October 2016 , the three of us will be doing an online launch of Veils, Halos and Shackles on Facebook. The launch will be held from 11.00 am to 1.00 pm (Australian Eastern Standard Time). If you log on to the events page during that time, you'll have the opportunity to join in some interesting discussions, listen to podcasts, watch visual presentations and enter up to six competitions with prizes including books, a gift voucher, a beautiful metallic bookmark and an hour of editing services. Some of those competitions will be extended into the next day, so you can still log on and contribute after the official close of the launch.

In the lead-up to the event, Adele and Cathie will also be blogging about their contributions. Adele's blog will appear on her website on Monday 3 October and Cathie's blog will appear on her Mazzy Adams website on Wednesday 5 October.

In the meantime, I'm going to kick off the first competition. The prize is one hour of free editing services from The Write Flourish, (e.g. critiquing, editing or proofreading). This can be taken as a one-off job of one hour or as the first free hour of a longer job. It is available to Australian and overseas participants. If you win and can't use the service yourself, you can transfer it to another person. The competition starts on 30 September 2016 and continues until midnight on Sunday 9 October (AEST).

In order to enter the competition, think of a protest poem or protest song that has resonated with you in some way (e.g. touched you personally, raised your awareness about an issue, prompted you to action etc). Then find a web link that includes the poem or a YouTube clip for the song and post the link and a few words about your choice in the comments below. If you haven't posted a comment on this blog site before, you'll have to first sign up to give your email address and username. These are not used for any purpose other than to give you access to the site. The winner will be randomly selected from all eligible entries (i.e. those that follow the instructions).

Please join us on 8 October to help raise awareness of this worthy cause. Sometimes we can feel powerless to bring about change. But if we work together, anything is possible.

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