Becoming Chikni Chameli in 3 Steps

I encountered Chikni Chameli in the December of 2011, mid afternoon at the Calcutta airport, waiting to board a flight to Indore. I was on my way to a friend’s cousin’s wedding. The overhead televisions kept blaring the annoying music of the item song, in sync with its provocative lyrics and gestures. Men and women alike had their eyes glued to the rhythms of Katrina Kaif’s thumkas and chest thrusts.

Fast forward to December 2013. Calcutta, again. 2 am. I am hunched over my laptop, seeking inspiration to finish my final assignment for Carolyn Smart’s fiction workshop class. Write a flash fiction piece, under 500 words. There are no parameters, except for the word limit.

I finally find inspiration , through another writer I admire. And, a stream of unconsciousness. Who knows where inspiration really comes from?

Several drafts, and a few rejections later, my piece sees the light of day.

My short fiction, “Becoming Chikni Chameli in 3 Steps,” is up at Matrix Magazine. You can read it here. It is a part of their trans issue, edited by Lucas Crawford.

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Blood Red Sky redux

Got me a tiny excerpt from Blood Red Sky (my eternal novel-in-progress) in The Four Quarters Magazine. It’s only good until their next issue, so check it out here.

 

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up to date

It’s been 3 days ish since I submitted my comprehensive exam (3 short essays), a few hours since I finished with most of my teaching assistant duties (marking) – although grades need to be uploaded – and am a few days away from moving back home. I should be exhilarated, right? I should be relaxed… but like most of my life in action, the tinge of unfinished business graces the air around me, and until I am done (which I am never, usually, as there is always something unfinished), I cannot breathe.

It’s also the 6 year celebration of this blog. Happy birthday, us!

I have some news that I guess I should dispense with. I have my first ever publication forthcoming in a Canadian magazine this spring. Cause for (some) celebration, I suppose. It’s a short fiction piece from a collection of short stories that I have been working on for the past – 3? 4?  – years.  I performed the piece recently at Laurier. It’s one of my most difficult/best pieces till now (I say that every time, I know), and merde! I wasn’t stage shy at all… no shaking feet, or quivering heart. It seems I have conquered that godawful stage fright thing I always had.

matrix

Well, then.

I am so happy with what I have been writing in the past few months. I guess I have sort of been on a creative high considering I am in love with a writer; also, a dear friend; also, my partner; also, the person I am going to marry.

There, that’s it… for now.

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Going on a hiatus, because comps.

Aye, I must take your leave, albeit temporarily.

I have my comprehensive exams in April (a rite of passage of sorts, for doctoral students) and must disconnect.

Don’t look for me on social media until mid April-ish. I won’t be there.

If you must get in touch, try email. Or, call (if we happen to know each other well-ish, you should have my contact). I promise to respond. Eventually.

Meanwhile, wish me luck. Because comps.

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story of a single brown canadian woman’s body

 

If you have been following the last few posts, then you are aware of the fact that I have been working on some new stuff. Rather, this “new stuff” has become a marker of everything that I now produce, creatively.

I am not sure what opened up the floodgates, but somehow, all the inhibitions I had as a writer have been shed. I am unafraid to be vocal.

And the words… they just keep on coming.

My poem, “story of a single brown canadian woman’s body,” is a part of Media Diversified’s newly launched Tumblr Poetry Series. Some of the issues I extrapolate in the talk in my previous post are evident in this poem, as well. Go see.

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How, then, to begin, to begin?

If the subject – here, the writer of colour – is unaware of the absence of speech, then where does he/she begin? Or, as Roy Miki asks, “How, then, to begin, to begin?” – an excerpt from the final essay I wrote for Dr. Smaro Kamboureli’s graduate English class at University of Toronto end April 2015.

On 24th November 2015, I was invited by Dr. Jing Jing Chang to give a short talk to her undergrad class on Bollywood films at Wilfrid Laurier University. The talk addresses my existence as a South Asian person/academic/artist in Canada, and negotiating that identity through creative writing and academia.

The talk ends with a performance of my most recent work of poetry, “elephant in the room.”

Since I don’t completely despise how I sound, here is the talk in its entirety:

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Hear ye, hear ye

I will be, ahem, partaking in my first public reading.

Okay, not. The first one I did was an open mike scene in front of a drunken crowd in Kingston back in 2012 during my birthday week. The work I read was “Sublime,” my most popular poem back then.

This reading is different, even though it happens to fall within my birthday month.

I am a guest speaker, for one, accompanying other guest speakers, opening for two book launches for BookThug. And… I have been working on some new stuff the past few months, some personal, raw stuff. Not love poems either. I think I may be beyond that stuff now (love poems, not love). This is the first time I will be unveiling this stuff in public.

So, if you happen to be in the Kitchener-Waterloo area on that veritable day, be there. Or, don’t. Your loss.

What?: Waterloo Joint Launch for Myrmurs by Shannon Maguire, with David Bateman, and The Poison Colour by Maureen Hynes (Pedlar Press).

With guests Emily Bednarz, Maggie Clarke, Phil Miletic, and Sanchari Sur.

Where?: Veritas Cafe, Wilfrid Laurier University Campus, 75 University Avenue,
Waterloo, ON.

When?: Tuesday Nov 3rd 2015. Doors at 7:30 PM. Readings to begin at 8:00 PM.

Free event. Refreshments will be served.

Myrmurs is an innovative variant of the sestina form (a medieval mechanism of desire that spirals around six end words). Connecting medieval textuality to contemporary politics and poetics, this poem explores living systems: cities and languages as self-organizing entities; ants; interspecies entanglements; strange attachments; neocolonialism and how to break free of it. Following on her critically acclaimed debut collection fur(l) parachute (BookThug 2013), this is the second volume in Shannon Maguire’s planned medievalist trilogy.

Myrmurs is an innovative variant of the sestina form (a medieval mechanism of desire that spirals around six end words). Connecting medieval textuality to contemporary politics and poetics, this poem explores living systems: cities and languages as self-organizing entities; ants; interspecies entanglements; strange attachments; neocolonialism and how to break free of it. Following on her critically acclaimed debut collection fur(l) parachute (BookThug 2013), this is the second volume in Shannon Maguire’s planned medievalist trilogy.

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