Indira Chandrasekhar is the Founding Editor of Out of Print magazine that focuses on short fiction. She shares with Kitaab her thoughts on the DNA Out of Print short fiction contest, how it came about and how it works.

IndiraTell us something about your magazine?

 Out of Print is a magazine that focuses on short fiction. We are a quarterly, offering a stringent selection of carefully edited short stories every three months. The stories all bear some connection to the Indian subcontinent.

Tell us about the DNA Out of Print short fiction contest. How did it start?

The contest, like many interesting confluences, came about in a wonderfully serendipitous way. A common interest in literature led to a conversation in writer Sanjay Bahadur’s drawing room between poet and novelist C P Surendran who is Editor-in-Chief of DNA and Indira Chandrasekhar, Founding Editor of Out of Print, which very quickly veered to the seed of what is now the DNA-Out of Print Short Fiction Contest.

Of course, the idea was then developed and detailed, but even the theme and format were fixed in the surge of that initial moment.

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It’s already a moment ensconced in time. Singapore bagging the Poetry World Cup, in what we previously reported as “a keenly fought contest”. Singapore received 1295 votes, while Pakistan mustered 1270. It was hair-raising: a margin of 25 votes. We revisit the day, and speak to Desmond Kon Zhicheng-Mingdé about this incredible win, where Singapore actually brought home World Cup gold. At least in poetry.

Were you optimistic about winning? What did you think of your chances?

From the onset, I knew Pakistan would be huge challenge, what with their stunning turnout in the semi-finals. A half-hour into the Germany-Argentina match, I checked the score and we were 200 points behind Pakistan. And I thought that was it – that the game was already gone. But by mid-morning, our pace had picked up, and it was neck to neck from then on. The last two hours were terrifying to watch. I hadn’t eaten the whole day. My first meal was at 6pm that day. 

PWC Desmond Kon Global FootballWhat seemed unlikely has actually happened. Singapore has made it to the Finals of the World Cup. In poetry, that is. It’s the closest thing to this small country ever bagging the real thing.

Singapore has certainly been on the roll. Jacob Silkstone reported that Singapore “recorded the biggest win of round one and received the most votes in round two”, followed by “top form… recording a comfortable win over Trinidad & Tobago to set up a semi-final with Tunisia.” The semi-final match against Tunisia garnered even more votes for Singapore, “the highest-scoring game of the tournament so far”.

That’s until Saturday afternoon when Pakistan knocked out Laos, with close to 400 votes. That sort of figure from the host country will be tough to beat for Singapore, the Little Red Dot that approaches this game with back-slapping fun and laid-back candour.

Of who should win the World Cup, Singapore’s poet-delegate Desmond Kon Zhicheng-Mingdé was quoted as saying: “We’re all winners in this game. All of us who participated and joined in the fun. It’s a game of appreciation. Of appreciating one another’s wordsmithery, and each of our poems. These poems are no less than gifts to the reader.”

Paris

The organisers will select five previously unpublished writers of fiction or poetry (residents of India) to travel to Paris and attend the festival.  Deadline: 25 July 2014

Indian magazine The Caravan has announced that it has joined hands with the World Writers’ Festival, an initiative of Columbia University and the Bibliothèque Nationale de France, to call for young Indian writers to apply to participate in the Writers of India Festival, taking place in Paris between 18–21 September 2014.

The festival will feature writers and critics such as Akeel Bilgrami, Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, Vikram Chandra and Kiran Desai. It hopes to foster  connections between students and early practitioners of creative writing from India and around the world, and be a fruitful meeting ground between new and established writers.