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Your tablespoon is my teaspoon: A poem by Lika Posamari

Your tablespoon is my teaspoon


Lika Posamari (the pen-name of Bree Alexander), loves to write in English and Spanish. She is a Master of International Development student at RMIT University, Australia and draws influences from experiences in Malaysia, India and Spain. She has been published in Westerly Magazine 61.2 and blog, as well as on The Red Corner.

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Festival to celebrate the best of South Asian poetry in Delhi

By Bhumika Popli

The Foundation of SAARC Writers and Literature (FOSWAL) is organising a three-day South Asian Literature Festival in Delhi from 24-26 February. This year marks the 30th edition of the festival, which was founded by Ajeet Caur, a Padma Shri awardee author, back in 1987.

The festival is to be inaugurated at the C.D. Deshmukh Auditorium, India International Centre, Delhi, on 24 February, and will continue at the Academy of Fine Arts and Literature on 25 and 26 February. The event, earlier called SAARC Literature Festival, is now the South-asian Literature Festival.

A number of readings on different themes, as well as poetry recitation in English, Hindi and Urdu languages, will take place at the two different venues in Delhi. The topic for this years’ festival is “Endeavouring for Peace and Tranquility in the Region”, with sub-themes like “Voices of Common Concerns”, “Literature Against Extremism and Terrorism” and “New Voices in Literature”. Read more

Source: Sunday Guardian Live

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Book Review: The Bearded Chameleon by Chris Mooney-Singh

By Ranga Chandrarathne

chameleonChris Mooney-Singh’s new collection of poetry The Bearded Chameleon is the work of a new voice engaging with the “diaspora discourse”. As a Caucasian Australian who has converted to Sikhism, his is a kind of reverse-diasporic point of view. Mooney-Singh’s close empathy with the land of his adopted way of life and philosophy creates in the reader the impression of a second-generation “returnee” to a familiar time and place, when in reality, he is a son of Antipodean soil. This is evident from the dropped hints in selected poems throughout the collection. Otherwise, this is poetry that could have been written by an Indian with all its insider knowledge.

The title itself hints at Mooney-Singh’s chameleon-like position within the Indian landscape and the agility with which he writes about it. Thus, his example as a cultural convert needs its own reverse-diasporic category to differentiate it from mere travel writing.

It is evident that he has lived and breathed long and deep in Northern India and his considered work codifies the vivid and changing reality of the diaspora as he commutes between Australia, Singapore and India; along the way, he deals extensively with prominent themes such as nostalgia, memory and the imaginary homeland.

Ethnic, cultural and the micro-observation of regional diversity are some of the hallmarks of Mooney-Singh’s India poems.

As in the classical description of diasporic writings, this poetic exploration is not only a codification of individual experiences but also a poetic documentary of the “collective voice” in a highly hybridised milieu. In a way, this hybridity is manifested in Mooney-Singh’s mixed genealogy: his Australian-Irish descent, a work life domiciled in Singapore (evident from his previous collection The Laughing Buddha Cab Company) and his ongoing transnational experiments with the Sikh way of life.


Poverty and deprivation in a typical North Indian village is brilliantly captured in “Punjab Pastoral”, the opening poem of the collection. Poverty is coupled with an inlander naivety on the part of the villagers who think the village tank is like “the Ocean” that nobody has ever seen.

In fact, this is also a classical allusion to medieval Bhakti and Sikh poetry where the metaphor of the “Ocean” represents eternal consciousness and is often applied to any body of water at hand.

In a traditional Punjabi context, a tank was a flat ocean-wide expanse of water, rather than a small-mouthed well. In the Post-Partition days, however, the Central Indian Government created irrigation canals with pumps controlling irrigation within Punjab and controversially to other neighbouring states such as Haryana and Rajasthan, negating the old system of using village tanks for human and animal consumption:

I cannot hear the mermaid singing here

beside this irrigation channel, dug with hoes

and feeding sugar cane – a sudden crop

of sweetest cash, yet magical as staves,

and green-checked lungi, that is now hitched up

above my knees, so that my own wet soil

can drop and find its way back into landfill.

It sounds quite pastoral and yet

a place without a latrine, without a job

for every man, a place of raw mixed opium,

strained through muslin cotton, squeezed and drained…

The only way a young man gets to leave

is selling his plot for an agent’s dicy promise

of a stamped visa to a foreign sweatshop.

Yes, they all want to leave and yet I’ve come

to squat and shit and chew the grass and spit

like village elders by the Panchayat tree.

For what? A cultural look and see and then

To fly back when the travel cash runs dry?

They look and talk of me, the grubby kids,

Dragging a stick of sugar cane in dust,

and mothers loading grass onto their heads…

…I hear no mermaid singing by the canal.

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Book Review: Managing the Journey through Rough Terrain by Gouranga P. Chattopadhyay

By Debakanya Haldar


The advent of autumn always brings with it an innate sense of solitude and the smell of the approaching winter. Such is the idea present in the autumnal season of the human life as well. This is the prevalent emotion in Gouranga P. Chattopadhyay’s second collection of poems, Managing the Journey through Rough Terrain. What is most interesting about this collection is that even though it dwells mostly on the sentiments of loss and longing that become the inevitable part and parcel of old age, this collection of poems promises to appeal to the emotional recesses of the mind, irrespective of the reader’s age.

The collection opens with a poem entitled, “Old Age Should Rave and Burn at Close of Day”, which allows the poet to make his position clear in front of his audience — he is not afraid to “rage against the dying of the light.” Thus begins the reader’s journey into a world seen through the spectacles of a matured poet enriched with experiences. The poet skillfully strikes a balance between the nostalgia of the past – “Images of those whom I loved flashed by” (“A Glass of Margarita at Hand”) –and the anticipation for an unknown future – “How many more do I have to overtake before my remains go up in smoke?!” (“Yet Another Gmail”) The poet weaves lucid and rich description of the mundane aspects of nature, thus supplementing his own personal experiences with a myriad of vivid images. My favourite of these have to be the description of the old laburnum tree in the poem “The Laburnum Tree in Madhuwanti” –

“It stands like a sentinel on the parade ground, ramrod straight,
Displaying the many coloured ribbons pinned to its chest,
Witness to past glory of years of braving Santiniketan’s

Mr. Chattopadhyay’s journey in his second collection of poems is unabashedly personal and yet, he never fails to include the reader in this “journey through the rough terrain”, to allow the reader to make it his or her own.


The reviewer is a final year M.A. English student at Jawaharlal Nehru University, Delhi. She appears as a guest author with the short story “The Last Meeting” in the collection of short stories, Wrinkles in Memory, published by LiFi Publications in 2016. Debakanya is originally from Kolkata and currently lives in Delhi.

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Manoharrai Sardessai: The crown prince of Konkani poetry

By Gauree Malkarnekar

Celebrated lyricist Gulzar, on a visit to Goa in December 2009, said of Goan poet Manoharrai Sardessai’s literary work, “It is the saltiness of the winds that blow in Goa that give his poems flavor and the swaying palms that give his words the rhythm.”

Gulzar, in one line, described the same vivid imagery from Goa that dominated Sardessai’s poems, while also demonstrating how this Goan’s words stirred a strong longing for one’s home, irrespective of the reader’s origins.

Sardessai was born on January 18 1925, a date that happens to fall just two days after Goa celebrates ‘Goem Asmitai Dis’. It is on January 16, 1967, that Goa voted against its merger with Maharashtra, a verdict in which Sardessai’s poems played a critical role. Read more

Source: The Times of India

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Ghalib was a people’s poet, that was his greatness

By Muqbil Ahmar

My grandmother was a nagging woman. During one such exchange when my grandfather, Mohammad Ghassan, was quietly sipping tea, a full-on barrage of complaints and abuse was being unleashed. The wife-loving old man — I usually marveled at his patience — looked at me, adding with a wry smile:

Har ek baat pe kahte ho tum ki tū kyā hai

Tumhīñ kaho ki ye andāz-e-guftugū kyā hai

The satire and the andāz-e-bayaan stayed with me. I could so easily visualise his helplessness and the torment. The couplet stayed with me although I didn’t know the author of the lines or their context. But whenever such a situation presented itself, I was tempted to use the lines. This is the greatness of Mirza Asadullah Khan Ghalib. Read more

Source: DailyO

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‘Tokyo Poetry Journal’: an experimental space for Japan’s English-language poets

By Iain Maloney


The third issue of the “Tokyo Poetry Journal” takes music as its central theme and, rather in the manner of the Nobel Committee for Literature, has chosen to blur the lines between poetry and songwriting. The first half of the new volume features song lyrics accompanied by QR codes that, once scanned, take the reader to songs on SoundCloud. Ranging from Bob Dylan-esque acoustic numbers to bilingual hip hop tracks, the editors are to be commended for this multiplatform approach to publishing. However, reading the lyrics on paper without the musical framework renders them somewhat denuded.

One standout piece in the second half is Ray Craig’s “Kiss Me Series,” where lines like “Kiss me with Cocteau Twins lullabies on your lips” in Sex Pistols-style lettering are presented alongside badly photocopied pictures of models, creating a wash of nostalgia. Read more

Source: Japan Times


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Fly and Back: A poem by Varun Rajaram

Fly and Back


Varun Rajaram has been writing poems since the age of 8. His first book of poems Reflections was published for a closed audience. His poems reflect the culture of places he has lived in – Kolkata, Lucknow and Ahmedabad. Currently, Varun lives in Mumbai where he promotes the use of solar power through his business.

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Always trust the witches: Keki Daruwalla on poetry from the Northeast and elsewhere in India

Let’s draw a circle on a sheet of paper and call it earth, say these poets.

The instruments of darkness, by which Shakespeare, and perforce I mean the witches, came to me a few nights ago and they first said:

“I see through dark, take my call

The queen will win but still she’ll fall.”

The second witch, more explicit, said:

“Double double toil and trouble

Trump will win. All will be rubble.”

The third:

“Fair is foul and foul is fair

Poisoned will be Delhi’s air.

New York? Worse, if you walk in

to a liberal’s affrighted lair.”

Being less credulous than Macbeth, I paid no heed and am left with regrets. If I knew a bookie and had trusted the witches, I could have made some demonetised money by betting on Donald Trump. Moral of the story: never underrate a huckster or a groper in an election.

To poetry then. There are some poets you feel honoured to write about. Two of them — Eunice de Souza and Saleem Peeradina — have published recently. Peeradina, once from Bombay (not Mumbai then), lives now in Michigan and teaches at Siena Heights University. His fifth collection, Final Cut, published from Valley Press, Scarborough, U.K., is as effortlessly chiselled a volume as you are likely to find. The poems are still life vignettes on birds, fruit, and ruminations. To quote Craig Raine, “These poems are hymns of praise — to birds, to objects, to fruits and to our human bodies…” He goes on to say that “Saleem Peeradina is one of the most important Indian poets writing in the English language.” Read more

Source: The Hindu