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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.

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