Neighbourhood Diaries’ Open Box of Poetry

If, after clicking through all the links in our recent feature on the articles produced by the citizen journalists of the Calcutta-based Neighbourhood Diaries project you're still hungry for more of their stories, fear not. Many of the same youngsters who were trained as citizen journalists are also featured in the most recent issue of Kalam's annual anthology of poetry, “Open Box“.

According to the introduction of this year's anthology:

Khola Baskho or Open Box is a platform for marginalized youth to share their untold stories, reflections and artwork. We believe that all of us have stories inside us, waiting to be told. Through this annual magazine we wish to present to you the random thoughts, bits of poetry, and fleeting yet powerful insights hidden in the folds of the daily lives of artists living in the margins. And in this way, we want to build up a relationship between these anonymous poets and their readers.

In the spirit of building that relationship, Kalam has allowed us to offer an eBook version of this year's Open Box. The print version is sold for US$ 5 in Kolkata. We strongly recommend making the same donation when after downloading the electronic version. You can securely donate $5 using by pressing the yellow “Donate” button below. All donations will go directly to Kalam to support their Neighbourhood Diaries citizen journalism initiative.

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As a sample of the poetry featured in Open Box, here is the English translation of Rahool Goswami's The Lazy Afternoon Tale:

Till yesterday, my afternoons were not as lazy.
It's be the regular routine of college or work
Or adda or the collage of dust on the street.
Busy life – it never stopped, not for a moment,
But today …
The afternoon is endless;
After a long time, I am alone in my room today,
On a lonely afternoon.

Nupur, the neighbour's daughter,
Comes to the veranda to pick up clothes she'd hung up to dry.
On seeing me she bursts into an innocent smile:
‘Oh Rana-da, you're home? At this hour?’
Before I could respond,
Nupur's mother calls her into her house:
She scrambles trying to arrange the dried clothes as she runs.

A slice of the veranda appears beyond the door curtain:
A few little birds twitter, fly around and settle in my vision;
I lie down on the bed,
And I remember how I would lay my sleeping head on my
father's hands.

In the house opposite ours, Aunt Mitali abuses a customer:
I guess, the man's done what he wanted to do, but doesn't want
to pay up …
I've heard this so many times since childhood that I feel nothing now.
Earlier, when neighbours cussed around,
Father would say,
‘Don't listen to all that – just keep yourself busy’
I remember those words a lot,


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