Connecting Across Border (CAB), founded in the year 2020, is an initiative dedicated to connecting poetic minds, cutting across all types of borders and barriers, promoted by three like-minded and evolved poet friends Padmaja Iyengar-Paddy (President), Dr. Sridevi Selvaraj (Vice President) and Hema Ravi (Secretary). CAB engages annually with poets and poetry through their theme-based international poetry conference, that sees participation of poets across the globe. The first such international poetry conference was organized by CAB on 11 July, 2020 through an International Webinar of Women Poets.
The 2021 edition of CAB’s 2-day International Poetry Conference themed on “Constructive and Respectful Debate” was organized as a Webinar on 28 and 29 August, 2021 in collaboration with their Digital & Knowledge Partners CTTE College, Chennai. This Conference saw participation of over 50 eminent poets from across the globe and India.
The Chief Guest for Day-1 of the Conference was the renowned poet and Sahitya Akademi awardee Dr. Varsha Das, retired Director of National Book Trust and National Gandhi Museum, New Delhi. The Guests of Honour were Dr. Chryssa Velissariou (Greece), an award-winning poet, scientist and Councillor of Larissa, Greece, and Mr. S. Padmanathan ‘Sopa,’ a renowned poet from Sri Lanka, recipient of several state and provincial awards.
The Chief Guest for Day-2 of CAB’s International Poetry Conference was the illustrious, multiple awards-winning English playwright, poet, newspaper columnist and literary reviewer Mr. Shreekumar Varma from Chennai. Ms. Muguras Maria Vnuck and Mr. David Paul Vnuck, editors of the International Writers Journal, USA, and Mr. Daya Dissanayake from Sri Lanka, a SAARC Literary Award-2013 winner and an eminent poet, were the Guests of Honour.
The poetry reading sessions by the poets on both the days were vibrant and full of refreshing ideas and views on the interesting and meaningful Conference theme “Constructive and Respectful Debate”. Poet after poet, through powerful and evocative poetry, emphasized on the need for purposeful and meaningful interactions, dialogues and debates to achieve clarity in thoughts for greater cooperation between nations, societies and human beings to resolve economic, social, cultural and humanitarian issues.
The poetry sessions were followed by an interesting Q & A with two young poets asking questions on the poems. The poets responded to the questions enthusiastically, further highlighting the theme of their poems and what in their view was needed to foster amity and understanding through constructive and respectful debate.
Dr. Sridevi Selvaraj, Vice President of CAB and the Principal, CTTE College for Women, Chennai ably summed up the poetry sessions on both the days, picking out the best features of each poem read at the Conference.
CAB’s Hema Ravi and Padmaja Iyengar-Paddy anchored the Conference on both the days, interweaving the poetry readings.
A stand-out feature of CAB’s 2nd International Poetry Conference on both the days, was a slide show executed by the CTTE College team, that aesthetically presented the poets’ brief profiles and poems in a visually appealing manner, as poets read their poems. The poetry reading sessions on both the days, were also streamed live on YouTube.
In her vote of thanks, Ms. Hema Ravi, Secretary, CAB, stressed that the seeds of “respectable debate” sown in the 2-day International Poetry Conference, were certain to manifest in a multitude of forms and bring about the positive changes in human mindsets and behaviours.