PeaceWorks, Calcutta, invited young people to write poems for peace, knowing that often the things we feel most intensely about are also those hardest for us to speak coherently about, unless we can speak them as poetry. Or as images. Poetry gives our thoughts and emotions power, clarity and a graphic quality.
Schools from across the country and across the border, in Pakistan, responded to the invitation with a flood of poems by their students. Most of them were written in English, but some were in Bengali too. Drawings were asked for as well. Three eminent literary personalities were invited to act as judges: Sanjukta Dasgupta, a professor of literature at Calcutta University, herself a well-known and much published poet; Amit Chaudhuri, novelist, musician and poet; and Ruchir Joshi, novelist and filmmaker. A panel of experts selected one hundred poems, and then the judges chose their favourites from among them.
One Hundred Poems for Peace, is an anthology compiled from the entries submitted by schoolchildren from across India and Pakistan for the PeaceWorks 'Poems for Peace' project.
As one reads these poems of despair and anger, of fear and sorrow, of hope and compassion, one cannot but feel that these adults of tomorrow will raise their voices against violence and hatred and bloodshed-and for peace. That in their own small way, they will try to make a difference, a different world.
A selection from the Judges' choice is accessible here.
One Hundred Poems for Peace is published by Seagull Books.