Thursday, November 21, 2013

Disqualified! Clarification and an apology


This is to say that I have been disqualified from the aforementioned RLP India awards longlist. This is because it appears that quite absent-mindedly and inadvertently, I did not follow all the rules of the contest. So it appears that all the five poems were supposed to be unpublished, but I made a mistake. I had also sent one or two of those poems to some magazine at some point and then forgotten about it or become confused regarding the rules or whatever. I will not go into the details. I will merely say that my name is no longer there on the list. My apologies for my carelessness.

and here's to poetry... more and more poetry, as long as I can write, and write more, and write better, and read more,and... and live and relive, the kingdom has not been lost. :-)

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Longlisted for the RLP India Poetry Award :D and a publication

Dear folks,

So here's some good news. :-)

Read Leaf Poetry had opened its India Office only this year, and Linda L. Ashok has been pretty much the main person co-ordinating it. This was a national all-India poetry competition where one had to submit five poems each. The award ceremony was recently held in Hyderabad. So, there are 2 winners, some 6-7 people in the shortlist including biggies such as Sumana Roy and Sudeep Sen, and some 17-18 people in the longlist including the likes of Abha Iyengar, Sivakami Velliangiri, even my peer and room-mate, Anjumon Sahin, and well yes, yours truly. :-)
So, happy to be longlisted! I still get to be somewhere in the top 27, so perhaps my poems aren't bullshit after all! :D

errrrm, and there was another publication in eFiction India last month. I am putting up the poem 'Pain' here.


It is wrenched out of one, moment
by slow torturous moment, hanging
heavy as dread, as one day
becomes the next and flows into the stream
of months and years. Tear by tear, drop
of blood by drop of sweat, it oozes out
Pain makes you yearn. Pain
Then proceeds to teach you the supreme arts
of patience and control. This suffering
is extraordinary. It is the lowest and
it is the highest too. This exquisite hurt
that howls, shrieks, torments and ravages
and ultimately becomes the two syllables
of your name. But it never goes away.
It never quite lets you forget.
It makes you learn to submit. There is no other way.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

'Of Lovings and Endings' and 'Fear' published in eFiction India

Hey all!

I have a couple more poems in eFiction India: 'Of Lovings and Endings' in the August issue and 'Fear' in the September issue. There is an entire selection committee but the poet and academic, Ananya S Guha is the main poetry editor. I am reproducing the two poems below.

Teaching in Dyal Singh College (Delhi University) for a few months as of now. Trying to make the most of it, and realising that I love to teach. :-)

A young department friend and junior Mihir Vatsa has won the Srinivas Rayaprol poetry prize this year! How awesomely cool is that!! :D

Of lovings and endings

and you saw that it was growing
and it wasn’t really going
and you saw that it was thriving
and blooming and abiding
and without incentive surviving
and you wanted an ending
and you wanted it stopping
and you were tired of my inging
and irritated with my anding
and perhaps you were sick with waiting
and you wanted to break my ‘loving’
you simply wanted a period.
A full stop.
and achingly, heartbreakingly
you are making sure you get one
finally. Now.


It slips in stealthily, through cracks
of sunlight, chinks in curtains, split
seconds, spare moments
when you're patting your hair or twiddling
with the ring on your finger. Eliot
could show it to you in a handful of dust.
It is the hollow silence, the amorphous
blackness at the centre of your being
which threatens to disrupt and engulf you
Fear of the depths, of the heights, of reaching
beyond horizons. Fear of the deep black pit.
Fear of you. Fear of words, silence, going, coming,
staying away. Fear of time. Fear of myself. My thought-ghosts.
And the fear balloon grows bigger and bigger
until I forget what I am afraid of.
And then, there is only fear.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

'Ode to Civil Lines' published in E-Fiction India

Hello folks! There's a magazine in America called E-Fiction and it has several branches such as E-Fiction Horror, E-Fiction Romance and so on, and now even E-Poetry, their newest branch. So E-Fiction India is an Indian branch which began around nine months ago, managed by Indian folks. It has a hard copy as well as a soft copy version but you mostly have to pay for it, though on certain dates they allow you to download it for free. E-Fiction India publishes other genres such as poetry as well.

I have a poem published in the June issue, 'Ode to Civil Lines, Delhi, October 2010'. It is elsewhere on this blog as well, but this is a slightly edited version. and so, here goes, my attempt to put my love for my beloved Civil Lines into words...

Oade to Civil Lines, Delhi, October 2010

Dusky darkness steals tiptoes softly
cradling the white fragrance
of the raat rani, shefali, frangipani.
The moon between the two tall palms
is a boat,the star is a kiss on the sea-sky.
At 7pm in the grounds of IP college
spirits and gods and trees converse
mysteries like flying insects are suspended in mid air.
A silhouette of blue smoke seems strangely kindred
At odd hours, this spirit creeps out to share this tryst.
Six years have made it a translucent omnipresence.
Then the smoky spirit glides down the street
pervading ,absorbing atmosphere
which mutates into night smells
jostling against food smells, sounds and lighted
shops, autos at the gas station
cars teeming with yellow cat-eyes
Sights, sounds, memories, smells,feelings
are brewed together, the logic of boundaries
comes undone. The spirit traverses
by-ways of winged hopes,
feathered dreams, nostalgic idylls
of rajpur road, under hill lane, sri ram road
and ram kishore road, that take me across
time and space, desires and sorrows
back to the room of my own I call home.
My five feet four inch fifty kg body
may measure acres, square miles, cities
but a whiff of smoky translucence
will always glide down bylanes of dreams
and memory at 7pm, in the IP grounds
the place that brewed and stewed and cooked
and sprouted me.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

creative writing workshop with Anjum Hasan

and yes, while mentioning some of the "literary" and poetic highlights of the past few months, I simply cannot forget Anjum Hasan's visit to Delhi, her creative writing workshop in JNU with a select group of 15 participants, her readings and other events which I either attended or had short glimpses of :-), and last but not the least, a much prized one-on-one conversation between me and Anjum in the auto and in the metro! :D
and Anjum really liked my poems. yes, she must've told me that at least 3 times. now, isn't that splendid! Thrilling, rather! oooooo!! It is Anjum Hasan after all, you know.

so life at the personal level has sort of been in the doldrums and it has been painful and it hurts and you go all angsty and you dunno how to pick yourself up and what to do, but thank heavens, there is something called writing and something called poetry which can help you heal. So you see, I've been trying to do some of it these past few months. and I mean to keep up. :-)
and yes, some more! I had four poems published in Brown Critique, the journal run by the well known poet, Gayatri Majumdar. So it caused much happiness to hear from Gayatri that she "really liked my poems". well, so I'm putting these ones up here, cos it's been a while now since then.

and yes, I must mention that I participated in a competition Poetry Against caste which was organised by Caste Away- a Delhi initiative in partnership with a group from Delhi university as well as Kavi-the Poetry Art Project, and this competiution was judged by another young well known poet, our dearest Meena Kandasamy. There were 2 prizes, neither of which I won, but Meena was kind enough to make a third "special mention" for my poem 'Hypocrisy' which was later published in Brown Critique. It is the last one in the poems that follow below.

Shruti Sareen                                                                                                                          4 poems
My Heart Is a Poor Student

For perhaps the 50th time in two weeks
I pick up my heart. Open it. explain to it.
The same words I have repeated
the evening before, I have gone through
the same arguments, the same reasoning.
But my heart is stupid. It is a fool.
... It forgets it all, and I have to explain it
all over again. My heart is stubborn. It asks
too many questions. It disbelieves. It does not
accept. My heart is too soft. That is its biggest
failing. It whimpers with a scolding. It cries
when beaten with a stick. My heart
is a poor student. An easy teacher may have
felt sorry for it. But perhaps you need
to be strict with this heart to the point
of sadism. Or sadomasochism. Banish it
from the classroom. Imprison it within walls.
Sting-slap it. Make it submit. Scream at it
until it is ready to learn. Until it is
pliable. Until it admits its faults. Until
it is willing to work hard. Until it learns
strength. Then the heart will be re-admitted
back into the classroom. With weak students
like my heart, you may sometimes
have to use force.


It is dialogic like a debate. It has
two sets of choruses. They present opposing
points of view with great melodrama and
emotion. The stage of the theatre is me.
Chorus one is Guilt and Chrous two is
Desire. Chrous two speaks first, it is more
... impatient. It begins with you, it ends
with you, it seems to like talking about you
in the middle too somehow. It seems to think
it the most natural thing. It does not realise
that something is wrong. Chorus two desires
and desires and rails against its punishment,
it cannot wait for it to end. Then,
Over to Guilt, Chorus One. This one
eats into you slowly like a worm does
into an apple. It chastises and
castigates the self, it labels you wicked,
evil, criminal- and leaves you squirming
like the vile worm. It makes you regret
who you are. That is its biggest weapon.
and everything you've ever done.
It makes you rot in hell. This
is the moment of anagnorisis. This
is where the hamartia turns into
peripeteia. Without the fatal flaw,
there would be no play, no hero,
no epiphany either. This is the end
of Act 4. The curtain drops.

Some day, there will be an Act 5
of peace, resolution and hope.


A tender newborn green
they emerge from knotted nodes
and nodules that protrude a trifle
crooked from the tall, straight bark
their crown tops high in the sky. The barks,
by and large, are weathered old
... bare browns, except for the birthings.
The new from the old. It must be
so painful. It must hurt so much,
I think, for the green to emerge
from the brown. And for the green
to grow, covering the brown.
The brown would have this concealed
grief, and this submerged heartache
and so much courage, to give
birth to spring.


We are the bhadralog. We
the middle class. We, the marxists
we the elite, we the educated.
We are the leftists-ah!
We sit in AC seminar rooms and have
dalit conferences. with biscuits and cakes
and endless streaming cups of coffee.
Sitting in our armchairs, we
denounce the corporates and valourise
the proletariat. We clap, we
back-pat, we volunteer too.
We also take out time for our classic look-
my kajal, my kurta- hey, I'm not your
lip-gloss wearing girl, no way! and he?
His beard is a sign of intellect, can't you see?
The conference ends at 5pm and on our way
back home we see: a woman cleaning a toilet,
a beggar counting coins, some newspaper
flashing some dalit suicide. and we
retreat into bhadralog respectability.
We return to our cleansed and comfortable worlds
'Oh dear, oh dear, so terrible', we say
but what can we do after all? We are tired.
We have done so much all day.

Poems published in Our Private Literature and accepted for North East Review

So, it gives me much pleasure to say that 'Flowers for your Hair' has been accepted for publication by North East Review. For obvious reasons, I cannot put this up here until they have actually published it and some time has elapsed before that, but put it I will. So watch this space!

In the meantime, 'Sad Ootin' was published in another newbie journal that is published from North east India. This issue centred around "Protest". Okay, so I'll leave you with Sad Ootin!

Sad Ootin

Ootin is an elf
With a Piglet face
Pixie ears, needle
Eyes and nose.
A flick of my wand
And Ootin appears
Bowing low to the ground
From his waist. Thy wish,
He says, is my command.
Ootin has a fractured soul
A split face, and creaky arms
That need oiling. He also has
A cracked tongue.
Ootin slaves hard night
And day, catering to my whims
He cleans, cooks, washes, sweeps
And sometimes, he brings stolen
Honey from bees, or nectar
From butterflies. Ootin
Does my shopping
So I stay home. He also
Does my work.
I need to keep Ootin busy,
Very busy. Ootin, you see
Is under a curse
When he finishes work
He does mischief, he sticks things.
Yes, he sticks doors and windows
So I can’t open them. He sticks holes
In clothes, so I can’t wear them.
He sticks pots and pans,makes
A mountain of them. He once stuck
A child’s mouth, so it wouldn’t open.
For this, he is punished, yes
of course he is punished.
He is burnt in the fireplace
And beaten with a stick.
Poor Ootin. Sad Ootin.
His is a sad life. Ootin,you see,
Can stick things, but he cannot
Stick his fractured soul, his cracked
Tongue, or his creaking arms.
He could have been free. 

Hello folks! It has been a long break, which is shameful and unforgiveable considering that I promised around New Year's to be regular. Well, so this is a week well past the 23rd of May, when this blog turned 5. Heck, whatever. Not in a very celebratory mood. The blog is hardly alive anymore. anyway, we'll keep you running for a couple of years more, Heartstrings, I promise.Then errrm well, we have become sorta ambitious here and we have other plans from life, so we might make Heartstrings a bit more professional and give it a new name, a new look, and a new home. :-)

hmmm... here's a few short updates:

I am now enrolled in Delhi University for a PhD on "Emerging Feminist Trends in Indian Poetry in English". Looking at mostly all the delightful women who have been writing poetry around gender issues in the past 15 years. :-) 

I presented a paper in JNU in the Indian World(s) of Indian English Literature seminar on the topic- "Frontiers- Dividing and Connecting Places: in the poetry of Arundhathi Subramaniam, Anjum Hasan, CP Surendran, and Tabish Khair" (14-15 March 2013)

Presented another paper at Jamia Millia Islamia in the seminar 'Food for Thought' on 18th April 2013  entitled " Food, Love, and Self in Indian Women's Poetry in English" This one will probably be published a little way down the line as well.

and yes, besides presenting papers for the first time in my life in places besides IP College (oh heck, Indraprastha college for Women, there you go!) and Mphil seminars, I have also begun proper formal teaching for the first time in my life. :D
oh well, we start small, it's not a fairytale world, so I taught in 3 different Delhi University colleges all within 3-4 months, filling up for other teachers who were on leave! well, may the job hunt continue and may more opportunities reveal themselves!

and yes, the "real" poetry bit comes up in another post rightaway. :-)

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Paper on Anjum Hasan's poetry published in Muse India!

Hello folks!

And a happy new year!

I am surprised to find that I have shamefully neglected this blog of late, my last post is almost 5-6 months ago! I will definitely take it as a new year resolution to be more regular with this blog, even if I am no longer putting up every poem that I write!

Hmmm... amidst much upsetting upheaval in my "personal" life, and an ongoing fruitless (and hopefully not hopeless!) job hunt in my "academic and professional" life, I just got some good news which will do just as well as some other kind of cheer to begin the new year with.

I have a paper on Anjum Hasan's poetry collection Street on the Hill published in Muse India. Issue Jan-Feb 2013. First time I'm getting a real paper published that feels satisfying! oh well, not such a big deal either, really. This paper has been culled from my Mphil dissertation on "The Imagined and the Inhabited City in the poetry of Arundhathi Subramaniam, Anjum Hasan, C.P.Surendran and Tabish Khair". This issue of Muse India focusses on Indian Poetry in English, as well as on the Marginalised Literature of the North East. My paper is in the latter section. To read it as well as other interesting stuff (and there IS real interesting stuff in BOTH the sections), just follow this link.

And watch out for more blog posts soon... I promise!