Saturday, September 10, 2016

EPW and Indian Cultural Forum

My paper on 'Politics of Food Production and Consumption' has been accepted for publication by the Economic and Political Weekly of India (EPW)! This is great news! The paper deals with practices of vegetarian and non-vegetarianism and with the factory farming of animals, issues which I have been concerned about a lot lately and which have even led me down into depression.

The other piece of news is that I had a poem accepted for the Indian Cultural Forum. The poem 'New MacDonalds has a Factory' is also about factory farming of animals,using the popular nursery rhyme 'Old MacDonald had a farm'.

I will put up both of these, and links to them, once they are published.

Monday, August 29, 2016

Two poems in Aainanagar

I also have two poems: 'China: a Ghazal' and 'Cocooned' in Aainanagar. The editor is the poet, Nandini Dhar, with whom I had a hot and heated debate about animal factory farming. Although she did not include that specific animal poem, here are two others. I am putting the links as well as the poems below. The link to the poems is here.

China(a ghazal)
Made in China, wrapped in China, an alien world lives in China
cellphones censorship coats and cruelty, always the lair is China

Rumours and secrets are whispered in hushed tones about China
From behind the curtains,, we curiously peep and stare at China

Slogging workers strive and slave and struggle in China
But I ask you, maker of souvenirs, is it fair in China?

Do not sit idle, do not look away. Raise your voice, Republic of China
But would you dare face the wrath and the glare of the government of China?

Exiled from their country, fled to India, where are the Tibetans in China?
‘No Country for Tibetan Men’, how do they fare, in China?

Feeding poultry till they swell to ten times their size in China
Cutting baby birds’ beaks and tails of the young mares in China

Burning them alive for their meat, skin and bone in China
The pots boiling hot with geese, ducks and hares, in China

The hunted bear in the ‘frosted’ woods ‘lovely dark and deep’ in China
Skinned alive first, butchered later, howling jumping, a flare in China

They do not deem animal sentient beings in China
But objects to be bought and sold, traded, not reared, in China

The most heavily populous country in the world is China
But the roads and the airports are empty and bare in China

The masses of people hidden in the hush of secrecy in China
Tell me why are living people to be seen so rare in China?

Aghast at the picture of violence and bloodshed in China
Shruti asks in anguish, do you care, in China?



You lie enclosed in your cocoon
And I sleep oblivious in mine.
We live as strangers.
Only the whispering wind brushes
Us together, and we touch, at times.
Stray insects that crawl over you
Crawl over me too.
When the cocoons burst, will we
Recognise, will we realise
That we are sisters born
Of the same butterfly?

'Anagapesis' in The Literary Nest and 'Radhika' in Lakeview Journal

So here is 'Anagapesis' which was published in The Literary Nest. I also have another poem 'Radhika' in Lakeview journal. Putting both of these below.


They say that it happens. Most of them
in their old wisdom told me that it does.
That the cells of the body lose the sense
of affection for someone they once loved.
That one unfeels. That passion turns to apathy.
Perhaps it is a desired state. A happy state.
If apathy is happy. Perhaps I could tell you
ten years later. Make that twenty. If
anagapesis is messy. If it bleeds. If it stops
halfway. Or if it is a clean aseptic cut
that I can anaesthetise. The cells of my body
don't really believe in anagapesis. That a complete
lack of affection can ever happen.
A-na-ga-pe-sis. Long word. It is a difficult word
to remember. It is easy to forget it. A-na-ga-pe-sis.
I am terribly afraid of it. Perhaps, I secretly
don't even want it to happen.

 Link to 'Anagapesis' in The Literary Nest is here.

Barbie dolls were just dolls but she was my live six month old baby gifted by my aunt in America.
I begged my mother and aunty for old baby clothes to dress her in.
In vain, I tried to neaten her short auburn hair that wouldn’t be made.
She was always there at every game I played.
From age – to twenty two, yes I took her to college too where they called her Chucky, my poor baby.
At home I tried to rescue her from a maid’s daughter who drew inky designs on her face and a cousin brother who threw her and broke her now re-stitched arm.
In later years, I tried to name the blue-eyed baby Robin but it never stuck.
At twenty two, I gave her away. Now she stares back at me with only one eye.
Every girl has her most precious baby and her most precious doll.
Everyone has a childhood and mine is now surely lost, as surely as the other blue eye.

 Link to 'Radhika' in Lakeview Journal is here. The poem is on page 174 of this biannual international journal.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

'Hobbies, and the meaning of life' --- sharing an article I loved

Although I don't usually "share" other people's writings on this blog, here is a piece I read yesterday which raised so many questions that I myself so often struggle with, ponder over. Why do we have our hobbies, passions, and "hobby-horses" which are utterly useless and unproductive, and which, are a mark of our elite bourgeois status which offers us the leisure time essential for our "hobby-horses". The piece discusses all these questions, and also tries to see how our passions can form voices of dissent and make us into better people. Okay, no more. Please please please read this. Suffice it to say that I find this piece amazing and would like to share it here, breaking the general rule. The "hobby" of the writer is bird-watching. From here he begins and goes on to questioning the nature, use and importance of our "hobby-horses".

'Hobbies, and the meaning of life'

Click here.

a poem 'Anagapesis' in The Literary Nest, and a 'queer' story by Queer Ink

A poem 'Anagapesis' has been accepted for The Literary Nest. The issue will appear in mid-July 2016. Thanks to the recent Helter Skelter listings through which I got to know about The Literary Nest and several other journals! The word 'Anagapesis' means "falling out of love", or losing the sense of affection for someone or something once loved. My poem questions whether this Anagapesis is possible at all. :-)

The next bit of news is that... well Queer Ink publishers publish errrm, queer stuff. LGBTQIA. They are currently working on a few anthologies of queer short fiction. I am copy-pasting below the mail I received from them. :-)

Congratulations, Shruti!

We are delighted to inform you that your story, 'The Trial', has been selected for Queer Ink's next anthology! Before we proceed, we request you to inform us if you have submitted this story to other publishing houses.

We really liked the storyline and found the characters interesting and complex. The other two stories you sent, 'A Corridor Moment' and 'Dream Desires', were clearly connected to 'The Trial' with the same characters and continuing plot. We thought it best if all three stories could be combined into one, with 'The Trial' being the main setting and the other two stories forming a part of the narrative, maybe as flashbacks or even narrative back and forths. 

We would love to work with you to further refine the story for publication. Do let us know if you are willing to work with our editor to make possible revisions and rewrites.

Thank you for sharing your story with us. We look forward to a fruitful collaboration. 

Thanks and regards, 
Queer Ink Editorial Panel

Thursday, June 2, 2016

A poem shortlisted, IIAS, and poems in SCRIPTS

So, I loved IIAS, I loved the conference, and I loved the hills. Who would not love to have the poet Sampurna Chattarji as their very own room-mate for three whole days?? I intend to brag about this for the rest of my life. She also happens to be the sister of one of our English deptt teachers-- well, just gives me more reasons to brag. My paper went well and was well received, hopefully it makes it to the anthology of selected papers!

Okay, in other news, there is a art, culture and literature organisation based in Pakistan which is called Umang, and is headed by Dr Nosheen Ali. This organisation held a competition on the theme of 'Liberation' for the Nasreen Anjum Bhatti Poetry Prize wherein I was shortlisted for my poem 'Kabir Das ki Nagri- Reclaiming My City'. The poem deals with Benares, where I was born and brought up. Nothing to rave about too much perhaps, as this was supposed to be an international competition but could not spread very far and wide, so they only got a few entries, and these were mostly from India and Pakistan. So, nothing to rave about, perhaps, and yet, something to still feel nice about.

Well, alright, I haven't posted any actual poetry in here for a long, long time now, so I am putting the two poems and the passage that appeared in SCRIPTS below.


You said I remind you of your sister
When she was very young.
Sometimes I think I could have been
Your littlest sister. Could have played
With you, read with you and
Grown up with you.
Sometimes I think I could have been Axomiya
I look at your sister, she is like you
But not a mirror image. Sometimes I think
I could be her. I could be her sister too. You, her,
And me too. I could sister-love you, sister-look-up-to-you
And sister-tease you then.
I could take that as fundamental fact
Before I took on the world.
Sometimes I think I could have
Called you Baidew.

An Illicit, Wicked, Scatological Love Poem

To lick salty sweat off your skin
To kiss your hot fevered body
To touch your menstrual blood
To smell it. Hair too. Pubic hair too.
To caress your wounds and itches.
To clean vomit and shit and then again
To love every part of you. To suck
Blood like a vampire or a suction pump.
Is that violent? I did not mean violence.
Is this poem violent? Is it blasphemous?
Is it grotesque? Does it talk about the gross parts
Of you, or rather, of me? But already,
It is becoming inseparable, you see.
You may feel repulsed by this poem. You may
Want to eject it. Vomit it out. My animal hunger.
Like morning phlegm spat out with toothpaste,
You wrote somewhere. Spat, that’s the end of that.
But all this is only fantasy. And I could make the climax
A little more gruesome, a little more profane
It’s just a different way of me being inside you
I could be inside you as food. Yes, you could kill me
And eat me, if you prefer to do.

You have taken residence within my brain, anyway.
In skin vein and limb, dream and whim, your name
the obsessive compulsive disorder of my tongue
I was just trying to get inside you. I thought
It might be a little less lonely.

a short excerpt from a short story 'Dream Desires': 


There were all the tiniest of wish fulfillment dreams, where so much happiness came at the cost of so little. Such as the dreams about the parties, for instance. Planning a party sitting on a side bench with Kopilee ma’am’s sister. Gatecrashing a party at Kopilee ma’am’s house and then struggling to find a way out. Sitting. Talking. Dreams about things much smaller than parties. Parties are grand, after all. These dreams were like Virginia Woolf’s “small matches struck in the dark … “, they were what made life go on. These dreams were about eyes, looks and glances, about  beautifully sweet nothings and random acts of kindness. They were “moments of being”, which get lost in the act of storytelling. The only way to keep these moments is to bind them tightly to oneself, as precious little secrets that can never be divulged or given away. To keep them like the last sweet morsel on the tongue which you don’t want to swallow. To live at night what you could not live during the day. To love the dreams, to rub them, caress them, to preserve their sanctity, to refuse to destroy them requires that they not be written down. Because the written word was rigid, and her dreams were small.