Rita Banerjee and Robin Hemley Interview Essayist and Filmmaker David Shields on “How Do I Become You?” Polk Professional Series Podcast – November 18, 2021 * 7 pm EST

Join Director of the Polk School, Robin Hemley, and Co-Director of the MFA in Creative Writing and Publishing, Rita Banerjee, as they engage in a lively discussion in the fourth of the 2021 season’s Polk Professional Series, “How Do I Become You?”  The series highlights the career paths and accomplishments of of successful writers, journalists, scientists, adventurers, activists, filmmakers and more, all of whom have made a difference by learning to be powerful communicators and to tell stories that count.

When: Nov 18, 2021 07:00 PM Eastern Time (US and Canada)
Join us on Zoom!

David Shields is the internationally bestselling author of twenty-three books, including The Very Last Interview(forthcoming from NYRB,  March 2022), Reality Hunger (recently named one of the 100 most important books of the last decade by LitHub), The Thing About Life Is That One Day You’ll Be Dead (NYT bestseller), Black Planet (finalist for NBCC award), and Other People: Takes & Mistakes (NYTBR Editors’ Choice). He produced, wrote, and directed, Lynch: A History, a 2019 documentary about Marshawn Lynch’s use of silence, echo, and mimicry as key tools of resistance. Shields’s work has been translated into two dozen languages.

The Cambridge Writers’ Workshop Announces its Disobedient Futures Anthology Authors

The Cambridge Writers’ Workshop is excited to announce their accepted authors for the forthcoming speculative literature anthology Disobedient Futures. The following authors will be featured in the anthology:

Rasha Abdulhadi | Paul Daniel Ash | Madeleine Barnes | Rita Banerjee | Emma Bolden | Alex Carrigan | Kholoud Charaf | Marlena Chertock | Charlene Elsby | Ayokunle Falomo | Robin Hemley | Helen Hofling | Candace Jensen | Shirley Jones-Luke | Liz Kellebrew | Brian Leung | Krysia Wazny McClain | Adam McOmber | Diana Norma Szokolyai | Megan Otto | Martin Ott | Corine Previte | Thaddeus Rutkowski | Mark Salzwedel | Kyle Scott | David Shields | Margo Taft Stever | Bianca Stone | Ella Voss | Maya Williams | Ceceilia Woloch

Stay tuned for more details about Disobedient Futures!

With all the best,
Rita Banerjee and Diana Norma Szokolyai, Editors
Alexander Carrigan and Corrine Previte, Assistant Editors

Join Rita Banerjee’s Workshop on “Emotion & Suspense in Theatre, Poetry, and (Non)fiction” at the Ruth Stone House * October 2 & 10, 2021 * Online


Emotion & Suspense in Theatre, Poetry, and (Non)Fiction
Saturday, October 2 & Sunday, October 10, 2021 * 1:00-4:00 pm EDT
Ruth Stone House | Online

Plato argues that human behavior flows from three main sources: desire, emotion, and knowledge. And before staging Kalidasa’s The Recognition of Śākuntalā, the director challenges his actress-lover: “As though in a painting, the entire audience has had their emotion colored through your melody. So now—what shall we perform to sustain the mood?” In this class, we will explore how creating vivid emotional worlds between characters and within storylines can build suspense, sustain drama, and lure the reader deeper in. If you’re currently working on a short story, novel, screenplay, theatrical play, lyrical essay, memoir, or narrative poem which has a unique emotional landscape, come stop by the Ruth Stone House for our next online creative writing workshop led by Rita Banerjee on October 2 and October 10, 2021. Students will read Rita Banerjee’s article, “Emotion and Suspense: The Essence of Rasa Theory” from Poets & Writers Magazine, do in-class writing exercises centering rasa, emotion, and suspense, and share out their work with classmates. Register at the Ruth Stone House. Workshop Fee: $150 for 2 Sessions.

May 14: VCFA’s MFA in Writing & Publishing Faculty Reading feat. Rita Banerjee, David Heska Wanbli Weiden, Ariel Francisco, Frances Cannon, Rob Spillman, Tim Horvath, Erin Stalcup, & more * Zoom, 5:30-7:30 pm

Join the MFA in Writing & Publishing program at Vermont College of Fine Arts as they celebrate the end of the 2020-21 school year with a final faculty reading.

The reading will be held on Zoom from 5:30–7:30 pm ET on Friday, May 14, as part of the Alumnx Weekend and Graduation festivities. Faculty readers include Rita Banerjee, Ariel Francisco, Rob Spillman, David Heska Wanbli Weiden, Miciah Bay Gault, Erin Stalcup, Frances Cannon, James Scott, Tim Horvath, and Sean Prentiss.

This event is free and open to the public, so join us to hear from our beloved writers and poets!

Join us on Zoom at 5:30 pm EDT!

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.