Poets House Reading feat. Rita Banerjee, James Ragan, & Finishing Line Press Authors – September 13, 7 pm

On Friday, September 13, from 7 pm – 10 pm, join Finishing Line Press at the Poets House  (10 River Terrace, New York, NY 10282 ) for a reading by FLP poets James Ragan, Rita Banerjee, Deborah Kahan Kolb, Stephanie Laterza, Danelle Lejeune, Mark A. Murphy, Dawn Marar, Katherine E. Schneider and others.

This event is free and open to the public.  The reading by Finishing Line Poets will be followed by an Open Mic portion.  Snacks and drinks will be provided.  This event is made possible through Poets House’s Literary Partners program. Poets House is an ADA accessible facility.  For more information, please visit Poets House or Finishing Line Press’s events page.

Rita Banerjee at AWP 2019 (Portland, OR)

Rita Banerjee, writer and Director of the MFA in Writing & Publishing program at the Vermont College of Fine Arts, will be participating in the following AWP events:

VCFA Alumni Reading & Reception
March 27 * 6:00-8:00pm
Enso Winery, 1416 SE Stark Street, Portland, OR

Author Signing: Echo in Four Beats
Friday, March 29 * 11 am – 12 noon
Cambridge Writers’ Workshop
AWP Bookfair * Table T13106

VCFA Reception
March 29* 6:00-8:00pm
Pettigrove Room, Hotel Lucia, 400 SW Broadway, Portland, OR 97205
410 SW Broadway

Cambridge Writers’ Workshop
AWP Bookfair * Table T13106
Thursday, March 28, 2-4 pm
Friday, March 29, 11 am-12 pm
Saturday, March 30, 3-4 pm

Vermont College of Fine Arts
AWP Bookfair * Booths 5021 & 5023
Thursday, March 28, 10 am – 12 pm
Friday, March 29, 10 am – 11 am
Saturday, March 30, 11 am – 12 pm

Rita Banerjee’s poems “Georgia Brown” and “The Suicide Rag” feat. in Painted Bride Quarterly, Issue 97 (Summer 2018)

Rita Banerjee’s jazz poems “Georgia Brown” and “The Suicide Rag,” which were featured on Painted Bridge Quarterly‘s podcast, “Episode 27: Suicides and Skeleton  Jazz,” are now available in print and on the web in in the Summer 2018 (Issue 97) of Painted Bride Quarterly.  On the poems, the editors of Painted Bride Quarterly write:

In the midst of excitedly preparing for AWP 2017, we record this episode in which we discuss two poems by Rita Banerjee“The Suicide Rag” and “Georgia Brown.”

Rita Banerjee is the Creative Director of the Cambridge Writers’ Workshop and is currently working on a futuristic dystopian novel about Mel Cassin, a half-Tamil, half-Jewish girl stuck in the middle of a familial crisis and an epic political meltdown, and a collection of essays on race, sex, politics, and everything cool.  A jet-setter at heart, she spends her time between Munich, Germany and the United States.

This week’s discussion both took us back and made sure that none of us would see the world the same way again. With images of breakdancing, gospel choir,and the not-so-innocent Georgia Brown, we were in it. Whether we’re distinguishing jazz from jazz or figuring out what a clapper is, this episode is filled with risky moves.

You can read Rita Banerjee’s poems “Georgia Brown” and “The Suicide Rag” here.  Both poems are featured in Rita Banerjee’s debut poetry collection Echo in Four Beats (Finishing Line Press, March 2018), which was named one of Book Riot’s “Must-Read Poetic Voices of Split This Rock 2018”, was nominated for the 2018 Kate Tufts Discovery Award, and was selected by Finishing Line Press as their 2018 nominee for the National Book Award in Poetry.  Echo in Four Beats can be ordered via Finishing Line Press, Amazon, or Barnes & Noble.

Celebrate Asian American Heritage Month with Rita Banerjee’s “Sleep” on Poets.org

In honor of Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, the Academy of American Poets has featured a series of poems by modern and contemporary Asian American poets and writers.  Rita Banerjee’s poem “Sleep,” which was the Academy of American Poets’s Poem-a-Day on November 30, 2017, is one of the featured audio poems this month on Poets.org.  Check out “Sleep” (from Rita Banerjee’s collection Echo in Four Beats) and all the featured Asian American writers on the Academy of American Poets.org!

A Midsummer Night’s Dream – Munich Creative Writers Workshop – June 23

“Lovers and madmen have such seething brains,
Such shaping fantasies, that apprehend
More than cool reason ever comprehends.
The lunatic, the lover and the poet
Are of imagination all compact:
One sees more devils than vast hell can hold,
That is, the madman: the lover, all as frantic,
Sees Helen’s beauty in a brow of Egypt:
The poet’s eye, in fine frenzy rolling,
Doth glance from heaven to earth, from earth to heaven;
And as imagination bodies forth
The forms of things unknown, the poet’s pen
Turns them to shapes and gives to airy nothing
A local habitation and a name.”

~ Theseus, Act V, Scene 1

On Friday June 23 at 6 pm, Rita Banerjee will be teaching a creative writing workshop for Munich Creative Writers inspired by Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream.  For more information on upcoming Munich Creative Writers workshops and meetings, please visit their website here.

The Reader as Critic: Everything You Ever Wanted to Know about South Asian Literary Theory But Were Afraid to Ask – Rutgers University – April 20

Charulata (dir. Satyajit Ray, 1964)

A Lecture by Dr. Rita Banerjee
Department of African, Middle Eastern, South and South Asian Literatures and Languages

Thursday, April 20 * 11:30 am – 1:00 pm
Rutgers University, Academic Building 6010
15 Seminary Place, New Brunswick, NJ 08901

The creation hymn from the Rig Veda begins with a series of provocative statements and spiky questions: “There was neither non-existence or existence then…The gods came afterwards, with the creation of this universe…Whence this creation has arisen…the one who looked down on it, in the highest heaven, only he knows – or perhaps, he does not know.” In explaining the origins of the Indus Valley civilization and the universe at large, the Rig Veda’s playful, interrogative style places the burden of understanding and interpretation on the reader. The creative power of the poet, non-dualism, uncertainty, and even atheism are hinted at in these opening lines of the Rig Veda. But what makes this seminal and foundational text of Indic philosophy and oral literature especially interesting is the emphasis it places on the critical distance and interpretive lens of the reader. From the Rig Veda onwards, this gesture towards hermeneutics repeats in canons of South Asian literary theory and literature from texts such as Bharata’s yaśāstra and Kālidāsa’s The Recognition of Śakuntalā in the classical period, to the manifestos and discussions of literary modernisms emerging in Bengali, Hindi, and Indian English little magazines and literatures in the 20th century. In this talk, we will examine why Indic literature continues to place the reader in the role of a critic, translator, debater, or connoisseur. What does placing the reader in the role of the critic convey about South Asian literary theory and intellectual culture? Does the emphasis on the reader as critic reveal the deconstructive, pluralistic, or matrix-like nature of South Asian literary theory? Come join us for a rousing debate and discussion on the structural gestures and intellectual goals of South Asian literary theory.

Rita Banerjee’s “Chicago Ode” – A Mass Poetry: Poem of the Moment

Many thanks to Mass Poetry for featuring Rita Banerjee’s poem, “Chicago Ode,” in their Poem of the Moment section.  Mass Poetry supports poets and poetry in Massachusetts.  Mass Poetry helps ro broaden the audience of poetry readers, brings poetry to readers of all ages and transform people’s lives through inspiring verse.  A copy of the poem is included below, and you can read the full poem on Mass Poetry here.

Chicago Ode

You came quiet on
cat feet with
for minor names

Like architecture,
you remained
aortal and stung—

Colors dropped
off grids and arcs
bending like yellow,
red and unglued blue

You moved like
a river under
Boul Mich elevated

undulated space,
kept sails and lovers
lit on harbor.

like bodies lit
on grass, you stood
unlike bronze

unlike concrete, too
contained in no
form, no limb
that would move

like fever
your eyes grew
catlike, calling to
strange bodies,

locking lakes in land,
you asked time to
sneeze, hiccup, to not
speak at all—

asked to linger no
longer or to
stay longer like

cracklers at night,
the firework’s parched
breath & Ferris wheel
lights that held

like ships & whistles
a cradle
without thread.

* Read the poem on Mass Poetry here.