Book Launch: 21st November, 6-7 PM, Max Mueller Bhavan

It's here! It's happening! And I'd love to see you there! :) Yoda Press is launching my first full length collection of poetry, The Fingers Remember, next Friday, 21st November, 6:00- 7:00 PM, at the Max Mueller Bhavan in Delhi. I'd love for for you to join in the celebrations!

The book will be available online and in stores soon. More on that as it happens.

book launch invite

Launch Date for "The Fingers Remember"!

And more good news: we finally have a launch date for my first full-length collection of poetry! The Fingers Remember will be released on 21st November, at the Max Mueller Bhavan in Delhi, as part of a mega-event to commemorate 10 years of Yoda Press. The launch will be around 6/ 6:30, more details on all of it soon, but start saving that date, please! And for those of you not in Delhi/ India, worry not -- the book will be available worldwide within a few weeks of its launch, more details on all that as the time nears.

I kind of wanted to do an extract with this post, but at this moment, the only fitting extract would be the acknowledgments page because this moment is all about gratitude, so here we go! Of course, there are so many, many, many more people I'm thankful for; this is just the beginning in terms of the folks without whom this book wouldn't have been this book.

"They say it takes a village to raise a child. A book is a kind of child. This book was raised by a village that spans continents. This page cannot do justice to continents.

But I must, still, say thank you:

To Suzanne Gardinier, for challenging me to find my voice and tell my truths. To Kate Johnson for insisting that The Fingers Remember was a book. To Ken Saragosa for nudging me back towards my words when I was walking away.

To Jeremy Kamps for ensuring the writing process is never a lonely one. ToJessica Ankeny for feedback on early drafts and for speaking my kind of strange.

To Saurabh Kumar, Christopher Ornelas, Neha Shah, and Kevin Devaney for patiently listening to my stories and my silences as I worked through the upheavals this book entailed.

To the Srinivas Rayaprol Trust and to Toto Funds the Arts for their confidence in my words.

To Sangam House for the time and space to work on this manuscript. Particularly to Arshia Sattar, Rahul Soni, Jeremy Tiang, Mario Kaiser, and Karthika Nair Seeking Rumi) for the conversations and the community within which this book took shape.

To Arpita Das and Yoda Press for their warmth and enthusiasm.

The Fingers Remember_coverTo Jericha Senyak for the gift of a beautiful cover and the even more beautiful collaborative process that went into creating it.

To my students, past and present, for keeping me alive to the joy of words.

To my family, and to the incredible community of friends and teachers I am blessed with, for loving and supporting my poetry, but more importantly, for loving and supporting me regardless of my poetry.

To all the people, friends and strangers, dead and alive, who have inspired the poems in this collection. Ultimately, this is your book."

Writers of India Festival competition

Happy to share some wonderful news. I will be going to Paris to attend the Writers of India festival this September, along with four other unpublished writers from India. Some of you may know that my friend Masako, who passed away 3 1/2 hers ago and to whom my first book will be dedicated, lived and died in Paris, so it's particularly special to me that that's the first place these pomes are taking me. I promise to tell you more on the other side of this trip! Here's the official announcement from the Caravan's Facebook page

The Caravan and Writers of India festival team thanks all its readers, participants and cheerleaders for a thrilling response to the competition for emerging Indian writers held last month. We received over seven hundred entries over a period of little over two weeks from some of India's best, hitherto unpublished novelists and poets.

The sheer volume and quality of entries made evaluating the entries a challenge as well as a pleasure. Following several rounds of close reading by editorial staff at the Caravan and organisers of the Writers of India festival, Paris, we are happy to announce the results of a very close-run competition. The five finalists are:

Dharini Bhaskar Akhil Katyal Nandini Krishnan Amrita Mahale Aditi Rao

The finalists will attend the Writers of India festival in Paris, taking place between 18–21 September 2014. These writers will be matched up with five students of Columbia University’s MFA in creative writing program, to allow for exchanges between their worlds and their work, and hopefully to form personal and professional bonds which will nourish their writing, both now and in future.

(for those asking, just to clarify that by "unpublished," the competition meant those who haven't yet published their first volume of poetry or fiction -- in the age of the internet, "unpublished anywhere at all at any time" becomes a complicated definition!)

The Four Conversations

Last weekend, the Four Quarters Magazine organized a lovely event, themed "Bordering, Translations" at the Attic in Delhi. I had a beautiful afternoon moderating the panel "Post-Memory, Commemoration, and Trauma: The Partition Retold." It was one of those magical afternoons when I heard panelists listen to and build upon one another's ideas, have real conversations rather than a series of monologues, and invite in the audience not just to ask questions but also to offer responses. Despite a bad cold and being heavily crocin-ed, I learned a lot, particularly about the Eastern Partition and the many ways in which those big historical events continue to play out in contemporary India in particular and South Asia in general. So much so that, in my opening remarks, I renamed the session "The PartitionS Retold" because the previous panels had made it so clear that there is no singular way to talk about such diverse phenomena.

Here's more about the event, as covered by the Sunday Guardian (in the section "Young and Restless," no less! ;) ).

Speaking from the Borderlines

4 Poems in the Feminist Wire

There are times when it feels especially urgent to get one's art to speak out for one's social/ political convictions. The last few months in Delhi were certainly that kind of time as far as my response to the gender-based violence in my city, and my own growing identification as a feminist, went. So I'm honored to be this week's Featured Poet on The Feminist Wire. Have a look at the poems below: 4 Poems in the Feminist Wire


Toto Funds the Arts: Jury Citation

TFA has posted jury citations for the winners and shortlisted writers on their blog. The jurors were poet, writer and editor Anjum Katyal; poet and novelist Jerry Pinto; and literary and theatre critic and commentator Devina Dutt. Here's a link to all of the citations, and mine is also pasted below.

Aditi Rao (Winner) for her series of poems
  1. Poignant and yet controlled, full of loss and yearning, full of powerful images, unexpected word combinations. There is a maturity and confidence in the use of language, repetition, desi words, whimsy. The poems here are quite varied in terms of subject matter, from what read like love poems to political comment.
  2. The poems have been crafted with a sense of travel, places, identity and shifting interior landscapes which emerge from a well judged idea for each poem. This is poetry which is dense enough to carry the weight of many worlds and many disciplines and also resonant enough to give us an experience and nature of what it is to travel through those worlds. The poems are fluid and often seem to me to be describing a point of departure for the poet who is sometimes a survivor and sometimes a traveller, with the gift of observation and a knowledge of stillness that can turn sharply from the outside to a study of his inner world. I enjoyed the poet’s surprising turns and use of language. There are worlds within worlds in these poems and a very natural out flowing quality to the descriptive capacities of the poet and her instinct for making poetry.
  3. The poetry here is assured but is also adventurous. The author is capable of transmuting the intensely personal into the public and the universal. It is an interesting voice and we should like to hear more of it.

TFA Award

If you haven't heard already, here it is: I won the Toto Award for Creative Writing in English yesterday. And I got a chance to read from the winning selection, along with Afrah (one of the shortlisted candidates) at Lekhana, the literary weekend in Bangalore today. Both experiences, the ceremony and the reading, were really special, and this is simply me saying a big thank you to all the folks who were part of them. I feel incredibly blessed in the warm welcome I've received from the world of Indian writing in English over this past year -- to everyone at TFA, Sangam House, and the Rayaprol trust, thank you for the confidence, support, encouragement, and everything else you've given me over the last year.

And you know you have the world's most amazing friends when you are in a city that isn't yours, but there are five people you know and love in the audience who have given up their Saturday evening AND Sunday morning to support you at the award ceremony and the reading, even though they are uninterested in (and somewhat intimidated by) poetry! You guys know who you are, and you are amazing -- thank you.

More as I return to Delhi!