Sunday, January 29, 2012

sliding (in several minds)

Sliding Rock, November 2011

 Recite to me please all the letters you are not able to read.
Spell "fling yourself skyward."

Spell "fever."
                   from 'Speech', Kazim Ali, The Far Mosque, Alice James Books, 2005.


There are preoccupations, some of them pleasant, others not. I won't apologise for my continued half-presence here; instead I will hope that it signals good things elsewhere.

Friday, January 20, 2012

'Ideas are what you want to get rid of'

Leonard Cohen, when asked if he learns something from writing songs, if he works out ideas that way:

"I think you work out something. I wouldn't call them ideas. I think ideas are what you want to get rid of. I don't really like songs with ideas. They tend to become slogans. They tend to be on the right side of things: ecology or vegetarianism or antiwar. All these are wonderful ideas but I like to work on a song until those slogans, as wonderful as they are and as wholesome as the ideas they promote are, dissolve into deeper convictions of the heart. I never set out to write a didactic song. It's just my experience. All I've got to put in a song is my own experience."

Also this.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

post HLF 2012

HLF 2012 is over. I wasn't there for the closing, but it was a packed three days for me (mainly because of the recordings I had to do).

Gulzar/Sukrita Paul Kumar, Adil Jussawalla and Suniti Namjoshi were outstanding. Kiran Nagarkar's was a hurried session, unfortunately, being on the first day when schedules went out of whack. I enjoyed listening to all the poets I heard, but the star of the younger poets was Kazim Ali. Wish I'd had at least one conversation with him.

I'm going to take a couple of days off to process and mull over conversations. After that there will be work and domestic things to catch up on, so it's unlikely that there will be posts. I don't have any photos, unfortunately, because I was saving space and battery time for audio recordings.

Do look out for a Call for Submissions soon, though.

Also promise to respond to comments soon!

Saturday, January 14, 2012

TFA winners

Anjum Hasan, Vivek Narayanan and I were the judges for the English entries in this year's (I think I mean last year's) TFA Creative Writing Awards.

The results are up here. Congratulations to Ramneek Singh and Joshua Muyiwa. I'm happy to finally put names to the entries.

There were Special Mentions, but they're not on the blog; if any of you were at the awards ceremony, can you fill me on on who those were?


The first mind-change of the year. Take note, all of you!I love that I can spend a half hour on a post and then decide it would be better left unsaid.

Oh well.

As a placeholder and to mark the passage of a post, I give you a miniaturised disturbance. This was taken a couple of days after Thane passed through Pondicherry. You don't want to see the trees or the streets. I promise you.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

New Year Irresolutions

1. Speak! I tell my memory.

The intention is to learn one - just one - poem a month. It's a laughably modest target, I know, but when Bill Murray said one baby step at a time I took him seriously all those years ago.

There's an inbuilt danger that I may cheat, of course, and use this as a chance to refresh memory rather than tax it afresh; I might pretend I never knew some poems and learn them as if for the first time. Philisophically, I think that's a worthy enough experiment, but in this year of the apocalypse, I think I ought to prepare for the day when I might be known only by the poems I remember.

It's arbitrary, but I also feel I ought not to learn poems that are: too short - by which I mean less than 14 lines; my own poems, though god knows, it would be nice to remember what I wrote and what I designated as the 'final version'; only in English.

2. Something for the hands

Not that I'm terribly dextrous or anything, but I've been noticing that I rarely do anything anymore with my hands. I don't take photographs, I don't draw, I don't do that much cooking. Nothing is made, fashioned, refined or altered and that's just wrong.

There's a half-finished cloth doll I began for my son some years ago, that I should get out and keep propped up on my table to act as my whipmaster-mascot for the year.

I think of the 99 year old lady I met in Chennai this time. We've been sending 'kind wishes' to each other via my grandmother for the last couple of years and this time I had to visit her. She had made these tiny, delicate, melt-in-the-mouth rava laddus (god! I never thought, in my most bizzare dreams, that I would say that) that existed in a state between roundness and disintegration. How she managed to make them, store them and serve them without destroying them deserves a post all to itself. It was miraculous, not only because of how hard it is to make a half-decent laddu, but because of how she did it at her age.

(This doesn't mean that I am going to make laddus. Breathe easy, all of you.)

3. Talk more

By which I mean, I should talk to one other person who is not family, at least once a day. And no, mails don't count.

I have realised that my phone is almost permanently on silent; that I rarely return calls I've missed and that I don't talk to anyone unless I'm compelled to. I've forgotten how to make small talk, hang out, exercise the full range of my actual, vocal abilities. No wonder I haven't written anything I can use in the last six months.


So this is the year when I make blindingly obvious resolutions that I hope I can keep.

Now: what poem should I learn first?

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Hyd Lit Fest 2012 Schedule

And we're back!

There's lots of stuff to blog about, but it will have to wait until after the Hyd Lit Fest, which begins on Monday, 16th and ends on Wednesday, 18th Jan.

All events at the Taramati Baradari. Everything is free and open to all. Do come, register and listen to lots of wonderful people.

There's a schedule up on the HLF site, but some sessions have been moved around or have been cancelled for various reasons. Here's the latest - and hopefully final - schedule.

Please note: I'm in conversation with Adil Jussawalla on the 17th of Jan from 11am to noon.

Hope to see some of you there!

Mon 16 Jan
Venue 1
Venue 2
Venue 3
10 - 11
Pavan K Varma, Gulzar 

11- 12
Romancing Hyderabad
Bilkeez Latif, Aminuddin Khan, Narendra Luther (Moderator)
Salaam Hyderabad
Vamsee Juluri, Harimohan Paruvu, Krishna Sastry, Meena Alexander (Moderator)
Celebrating Creativity - Contests for College students
Sujatha Gopal, Student Coordinators
12 - 1
In Conversation
Kiran Nagarkar
with Hemant Divate & Sachin Ketkar
Readings (English)
Hoshang Merchant, Robert Bohm, Nabina Das, Mohan Ramanan (Chair)
             - do -
  1 – 2 LUNCH
2 - 3
In Conversation
Urs Widmer and Christopher Kloeble
with Charanjeet Kaur & Amita Desai
Translating Bharat
Sachidananda Mohanty, Hemang Desai, N Gopi, UN Singh (Moderator), Jeelani Bano
Celebrating Creativity - Contests for College students

3 - 4

Past Continuous

Amish Tripathi, Indu Sundaresan, Jaishree Misra

T Vijay Kumar (Moderator)

Readings (Poetry)
Mamta Sagar (Chair), Arathi HN, Sridala Swami, Arjun Choudhury,
             - do -
4 – 4.30 TEA
4.30 – 5
Muse India Awards – Adil Jussawalla, to give away the Awards.
UN Singh, Sachidananda Mohanty, GSP Rao

5 – 6
Guftagu with Gulzar
Sukrita Paul Kumar

6.30 – 7.00  - Launch of Pavan Varma’s book ‘When Loss is Gain
7.00 – 8.30  - Cultural Event – German Music Band - Triotonos
Tue 17 Jan
Venue 1
Venue 2
Venue 3
10 - 11
In Conversation
Saeed Mirza with Indraganti Mohan Krishna &
T Vijay Kumar

Readings (Poetry)
Angshuman Kar (Chair), Mandakranta Sen, Anindita Sengupta, Santosh Alex
Gulzar’s interaction with Students
11 - 12
In Conversation
Adil Jussawalla
with Sridala Swami
Readings (Poetry)
Hemant Divate (Chair), Sachin Ketkar,
Anitha Thampi, UN Singh
            - do -
12 - 1
The Agony & Ecstasy of India
Mark Tully & Pavan K Varma


1 – 2 LUNCH
2 - 3
Translating Classics, Cultures
Constance Borde, Sheila Malovany-Chevallier, Gillian Wright, Madhu Benoit (Moderator)
Readings (Telugu Poetry)
Chennaiah V (Doraveti), Raja Hussain, Sailaja Mithra, N Gopi (Chair)
Celebrating Creativity  – Contests for College  Students
Sujatha Gopal, Student Coordinators
3 - 4

Development and its Discontents

Rahul Pandita, C  Rammanohar Reddy,
G Haragopal (Moderator)

Readings (Telugu Fiction)
Abburi Chhaya Devi, Khadeer Babu, Saleem, Atreya Sarma U
C Mrunalini (Chair)
            German Movie
                (120 mts)
4 – 4.30 TEA
4.30 – 5

Book Launch – Sagarika Chakraborty

5 – 6

S Rayaprol Prize Function –
Meena Alexander, Aparna Rayaprol,
Aditi Rao, Sachidananda Mohanty

6.00 – 6.30
6.30 – 7.30
7.30 – 8.30
Book Launch – Vidya Rao’s books
Vidya Rao (Hindustani Vocal)
Ananda Shankar (Dance)

Wed 18 Jan
Venue 1
Venue 2
Venue 3
10 - 11
In Conversation
Suniti Namjoshi
with C Vijayasree

Spl Programs for School Students – Cheryl Rao, Vandna Mathur
11- 12
Art of the Matter
Alekhya Punjala, Vidya Rao, Pritham Chakravarthy, M Nagabhushana Sarma (Moderator)

Adopting / Adapting to India

Gillian Wright, Mark Tully,
Robert Bohm, Meitim Connolly
Jean-Manuel Duhaut (Moderator)

                 - do -
12 - 1
Readings (English)
Navkirat Sodhi, Kazim Ali, Prageeta Sharma, Meena Alexander (Chair)
Readings (Fiction-English)
K Srilata Rao, Swati Chawla, Sagarika Chakraborty, Sudha Balagopal (Chair)
                  - do -
1 – 2 LUNCH
2 - 3
“’Death, be not proud’: Tributes to Vaclav Havel, Indira Goswami and Arun Kolatkar”
Readings by The Little Theatre.
Shankar Melkote and team
Readings (Urdu nazms)
Ashraf Rafi, Hasan Farrukh, Mushaf Iqbal Tausifi (Chair), Masood Jafri

3 - 4
Readings (English Poetry) –
Charanjeet Kaur (Chair), M K Ajay , Amrita Nair, Semeen Ali, Sushmita Sadhu

Readings (Hindi Poetry)
Rishabha Deo Sharma (Ch), Ahilya Misra, Shashi Narayan Swadeen, Kishori Lal Vyas
                     4 – 4.30 TEA
4.30 – 5.30
Urdu-Hindi Mushaira
Muztar Majaaz, Sardar Saleem, Jagjeevan Asthana, Tasneem Johar, Elizabeth Kurian Mona, Syed Khalid (Chair), Narendra Rai

5.30 – 6
GSP Rao, T Vijay Kumar, Amita Desai