Archive for October, 2017


“deep down the heart knows”

October 12, 2017

The words that give this post its title are from Sujata Bhatt‘s ‘Notes from the Hospital’, which she was good enough to send me when I asked her for an unpublished love poem for the fifth-anniversary issue of The Indian Quarterly.

The poetry section in IQ has not traditionally been linked to the theme driving the issue, but this time I thought it might be worth doing that, in subtle, tangential ways, as part of a celebration not just of the magazine, but of love itself. Sujata’s poem gave me the perfect lead for my precious ten pages, complemented by Jeram Patel’s art.

Anita Roy‘s formally composed, personally inflected ‘Chaotic Pendulum’ mourns the “wingstutter, heartflutter” of a dead pigeon in a church with the same delicacy of feeling with which it addresses the loss of a loved one in a poem powered by the rise and fall of longing. Monica Ferrell‘s “bride poems” bite, while ‘Glacier’ invites us to skate over the perilous ice of a teenage girl’s desire to “spell/ A sentence in the book of infinity”. Tishani Doshi‘s ‘Portrait of the Poet as a Reclining God’ is a small miracle of beauty and humour, such unlikely bedfellows, here in perfect accord…

In New Translations, K Satchidanandan‘s ‘The Girl of Thirteen’ is the kind of reimagining that speaks so urgently, yet tenderly, to the times, its opening and closing lines clicking together to turn poem into prophecy. And Subhro Bandopadhyay‘s ‘Joaquim Mondal’s Poetry’ which concludes the poetry section, is, as the translator Aryanil Mukherjee writes in his introductory note, distinctive for the “despondent tones of malady and dystopia ringing in the thought-space of the poem although its central idea [is] singularly romantic.”

Happy reading.





The publication of a ‘Ritual Correspondence’

October 11, 2017

I first met Nia Davies way back in 2011, when she was working with LAF, and helping to record stuff; a silent, supportive presence in the hospitable rooms of Ty Newydd in Wales. I was part of a translation workshop, deeply involved with the work, and slowly getting to know my Welsh counterparts (who went on to become great friends). Not once during the week-long residential workshop did Nia let slip that she, too, was a poet. Looking back, I marvel at this terrific restraint, something I rarely ever encounter. Most young poets are dying to tell you they are Poets. So later, when she sent me a copy of her first chapbook Then Spree, I remember the delight and thrill of encountering her voice, so sharp, so intelligent and ebullient, so full of surprise. We kept in touch, read each other, she went on to become the editor of Poetry Wales, invited me to be part of Gelynion, pairing me with the fine poet Sharon Morris, with whom I had the pleasure of collaborating on a piece we presented at the Rich Mix Centre in London. And then India happened to Nia. While Bangalore was (is) her base for her India-Wales Poetry Connection project, she visited Bombay more than once.

It was on one of these trips that Nia came home to spend a Sunday afternoon at my home in Thane. That afternoon the seeds of what would turn into our ‘ritual correspondence’ were sown. We made notes, drank chilled beer, read out fragments from our respective notebooks, and by the time she left to go back to her hotel in South Bombay, we had decided we’d give it shape, me approaching the very word ‘ritual’ with all the wariness of my staunchly non-Hindu upbringing, and Nia approaching it with the freedom of one who was considering ritual as merely one element of the performative. You can see where it led right here at Junction Box, that most wondrous thing, an irregular magazine. Many thanks to the editor Lyndon Davies for giving our exchange a home, and to Nia for the adventure.