Marginalia

by Michelle

I’ve been buried in writerly responsibilities of late, not least of which has been the import of the journal I edit, Mascara Literary Review to WordPress: mission accomplished, and very worthwhile too, I think you’ll agree. We’ve freshened up a little, and have two new interns, Mona Attamimi, a Master in Creative Writing candidate from the University of Sydney and Bronwyn Lang a PhD candidate from UOW, who is researching the writings of Vicki Viidikas. We also have Suneeta Peres da Costa editing fiction with Martin Edmond, and Lucy Van editing reviews.

But also, I’m honoured that some poems from my collection Vishvarūpa (5IP) have been selected for a special edition of the The Yellow Nib journal edited by Ciaran Carson and Sudeep Sen. The journal is published by The Seamus Heaney Centre for Poetry at Queen’s University, Belfast and features work by poets I admire like Arundhathi Subramaniam, Amit Chaudhuri, Ravi Shankar, Daljit Nagra, Meena Alexander and Nabina Das. The collection is pitched as a post-1950’s ( as opposed to post-Independence)  group of Indian poets writing in English, and with my triangulated identity I’m fortunate to have made the criteria for inclusion. Many of these poets also write fiction and many are diasporic, living in the UK, USA, Africa, Canada, the Pacific, but there are notable omissions like Sujata Bhatt, Melanie Silgardo, Jeet Thayil, Sudesh Mishra, Meena Kandasamy and Rukmini Bhaya Nair. There is an informal, anti-hierarchical arrangement of poets by first name, which is refreshing. The history of Indian poetry in English is relatively new, dating possibly from Henry Derozio in 1809, an Anglo-Indian who wrote in a métissage of Hindi and English: this has been and continues to be a problematic genre being reisisted by writers of regional languages, so that how it is categorised becomes crucial.

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I like it best when inspiration is chanelled spontaneously. A poem after my birthday for Timothy Yu, Professor of English and Asian-American Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison has been published on the Red Room Company’s wonderful Disappearing app for smartphones, androids and iPad’s. I’m not sure if the line breaks are right but the app is free to dowmload and guaranteed to be a lively way of exploring poetry and place, fragmentary memories, traces, a temporary journal covering three Australian cities during the year. Poets can upload their own responses to the theme in an interactive way.

Timothy spent a month in March 2012 interviewing Asian Australian poets in Sydney. He travelled to Melbourne for a conference at Deakin University, which I attended, and so we became friends. When we parted on Glebe Point Road, our lives and our journeys of writing and resistance felt somehow entwined. My poem, “Fountain 77” explores that connection lyrically.

And it was a true privilege to read at the launch of Alien Shores, a collection of short stories edited by the very lovely Indo-Australian editors, Meenakshi Bharat and Sharon Rundle. It was so special to meet some of the other contributors at the launch a few weeks ago. There are notable contributions from Abdul Karim, Linda Jaivin, Tabish Khair, Amitav Ghosh, Arnold Zable and the novelist/poet/critic Ali Alizadeh.

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