Rita Banerjee featured on Tattooed Poets in Honor of National Poetry Month

In honor of National Poetry Month and its final day of celebration, poet Rita Banerjee, her tattoo, and her poem “Paper Men” from Echo in Four Beats (Finishing Line Press, March 2018) are featured today (Monday, April 30, 2018) on Tattooed Poets.  Since 2009, over 320+ tattooed poets, including Joy Harjo, Carl Phillips, Eileen Myles and Noelle Koch, have appeared on Tattooed Poets in celebration of National Poetry Month.

And today, on this final day of celebration, poet Rita Banerjee explains the history behind her tattoo:

“By my senior year of college, I had been tapped into a secret society. When dusk fell over New Brunswick, we wore our dark robes long, accompanied by tawny-colored hats, as we tagged skulls and messages on the sidewalks across Rutgers College. Our secret society, which had been modeled after Skull and Bones and Quill and Dagger, had existed in our quiet but peculiar corner of New Jersey for over a hundred years. Paul Robeson, Ozzie Nelson, Al Aronowitz, Dick Standish, and Rebecca Quick were all members. We let our black robes and anonymity guide us. We wore our mystique close to the vest. Only a handful of deans and administrators kept the roster of our names. And so, in senior year, we easily flitted between the worlds of academic and cultural excellence and our shadow selves. But in May, during our graduation ceremony, our identities would officially be revealed to our fellow classmates and graduating seniors. So before we left the banks of the Old Raritan, broke our clay pipes, and signed our names inside the bell tower of Old Queens, we decided to take up one last dare. One evening, between finals and graduation, we took a trip to Montclair at night. I was the designated driver, and I was in charge of transporting my fellow skulls to a rather funky tattoo parlor in town. I was only there to hold hands and offer encouragement. Just half of us were willing to take the plunge and get a tattoo after all. But before the night was over, I, too, had been persuaded. While other members of our secret society got skulls emblazoned on their biceps and buttocks, I got the words ‘Spectemur Agendo’ inscribed on my lower back. The phrase was from Ovid, from The Metamorphoses. In Book VIII of The Metamorphoses, Ajax the fearless, exclaims: ‘Denique (quid verbis opus est?) spectemur agendo!’ That is, ‘Finally (what is the use of words?), let us be judged by our actions!’ A beautiful and terrifying sentiment. The perfect challenge for a writer: What is the power of words, dear poet? Let us be judged by our actions.”

And offers a sample poem:

Paper Men

xeroxing epiphanies at 5¢ a page, the messiah standing next to me has
been speaking the word of hope and rage for 37 years. with 4000 books
living in his mind, he’s international, a sage who hands me a song of
California. and anaheim—anaheim—been on my mind for seven straight
minutes. why? 7 for luck and anaheim for memories not mine. brushing
the tattoo of a carnivale, he says there isn’t a circus in the world he hasn’t
been to. and he’d like to be called Nesmith if you don’t mind. and when he
says Nesmith, i think of mike and white out. white out morning after
crash—seven days of meditating Tantric verse and I crashed, crashed for
six long hours at the highest level of understanding and do you
understand me, child, when I say, I cannot describe it to you? the
Supreme spoke to me and I had something to say. and this I’ve said for
years. and when his eyes ask, believe me, i do ’cause there isn’t a story i
haven’t believed in. and when i nod yes, he says, I have found in your
eyes a kindred spirit. and i think of the paper man i once met on an island.
in my back-pocket wallet, the name Yoshida’s inked, hand-pressed on
rice-white paper. Yoshida sighed once, look at the color of our
women—hair the color of the sun—there is no space for dark anymore.
just the shade of this paper store and the wait, the wait for a word-maker
to pass by. and so he tells me of Korea, the blasphemy of emperors
disgraced, and the beauty of his wife when she wakes him. we talk and
talk and talk of the greatness of rome, sartre, and curry. and somehow
beneath the talk, i can hear his heart. and tonight after kissing another
man of verse, i walk down white halls with a book of words on my head,
and think. today, i met a poet.

Read the full post on Rita Banerjee, her tattoo, and poem “Paper Men” on Tattooed Poets here.

“Paper Men” originally appeared in the literary journal Objet d’Art and is featured in Rita’s new collection Echo in Four Beats (Finishing Line Press, March 2018).

Cambridge Writers’ Workshop presents Disobedient Futures – A Split This Rock Festival Reading – Friday, April 20, 2018

In honor of the Split This Rock Poetry Festival: Poems of Provocation and Witness (April 19-21, 2018), the Cambridge Writers’ Workshop will be hosting its reading Disobedient Futures at the Colony Club in Washington D.C./ this Friday, April 20, 2018 from 5:30 pm – 7:30 pm.  Disobedient Futures will feature readings from Rita BanerjeeAlex CarriganMarlena Chertock, and Christina M. Rau .

To get to the reading at the Colony Club, please take the Green line Metro towards Greenbelt and exit at the Columbia Heights Station, then walk to 3118 Georgia Ave NW, Washington DC 20010.

Featured Readers:

Rita BanerjeeRitaBanerjee is the editor of CREDO: An Anthology of Manifestos and Sourcebook for Creative Writing (C&R Press, May 2018) and the author of the poetry collection Echo in Four Beats (Finishing Line Press, March 2018), the novella “A Night with Kali” in Approaching Footsteps (Spider Road Press, 2016), and the poetry chapbook Cracklers at Night (Finishing Line Press, 2010). She received her doctorate in Comparative Literature from Harvard and her MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Washington, and her writing appears in the Academy of American PoetsPoets & Writers, Nat. Brut.The Rumpus, Painted Bride Quarterly, Mass Poetry, Hyphen Magazine, Los Angeles Review of BooksElectric Literature, VIDA, Objet d’Art, KBOO Radio’s APA Compass, and elsewhere. She is the Executive Creative Director of the Cambridge Writers’ Workshop.   She is the judge for the 2017 Minerva Rising “Dare to Speak” Poetry Chapbook Contest, and she is currently working on a novel, a book on South Asian literary modernisms, and a collection of lyric essays on race, sex, politics, and everything cool.

Alexander Carrigan is the Communications and PR manager for the Cambridge Writers’ Workshop and has been with the organization since 2014. He is currently an associate editor with the American Correctional Association. He has had fiction, poetry, reviews (film, TV, and literature), and nonfiction work published in Poictesme Literary Journal, Amendment Literary Journal, Quail Bell Magazine, Luna Luna Magazine, Rebels: Comic Anthology at VCU, Realms YA Literary Magazine, and Life in 10 Minutes. He lives in Alexandria, VA. Carrigan is the author of “First Person Perspective Flash Fiction Prompts” in the Exercises section of CREDO: An Anthology of Manifestos and Sourcebook for Creative Writing (C&R Press, May 2018).

Marlena Chertock has two books of poetry, Crumb-sized (Unnamed Press, 2017) and On that one-way trip to Mars (Bottlecap Press, 2016). She lives in Washington, D.C. and uses her skeletal dysplasia and chronic pain as a bridge to scientific poetry. Her poems and short stories have appeared in Breath & Shadow, The Deaf Poets Society, Noble/Gas Quarterly, Paper Darts, Rogue Agent, Wordgathering, and more. Marlena often moderates or speaks on panels at literary conferences and festivals. She serves as the Communications Coordinator for the LGBTQ Writers Caucus. Find her on Twitter at @mchertock.

 

Christina M. Rau is the author of the sci-fi fem poetry collection, Liberating The Astronauts (Aqueduct Press, 2017), and the chapbooks WakeBreatheMove (Finishing Line Press, 2015) and For The Girls, I (Dancing Girl Press, 2014). Her poetry has also appeared on gallery walls in The Ekphrastic Poster Show, on car magnets for The Living Poetry Project, and in various literary journals both online and in print. She is the founder of the Long Island reading circuit, Poets In Nassau, and has read and run workshops for various community groups nationwide. She teaches English and Creative Writing at Nassau Community College where she also serves as Poetry Editor for The Nassau Review. In her non-writing life, she teaches yoga occasionally and line dances on other occasions.

Our readers Rita BanerjeeMarlena Chertock, and Christina M. Rau will also be hosting a panel during Split This Rock, entitled Fantasy As Reality: Activism & Catharsis in Speculative Writing,” which will be held at National Housing Center Room B (1201 15th Street NW, Washington, DC 20005) on Saturday, April 21 from 9-10:30 am. The Fantasy As Reality is described below:

“This panel will demonstrate how non-realist poems and prose can offer a space for political critique and empowerment. We will ask audience members about their own speculative writing and reading experiences and offer prompts to those who wish to work on similar future writing. Speculative and science fiction are often stereotyped as futuristic, extraterrestrial, and fantastical romps through universes using space travel, time travel, and super-advanced technology centered on white cis males. However, women, non-binary, and activist writers of speculative literature are purposefully subverting this stereotype, diversifying and owning the fantastical worlds that they imagine. Speculative literature, at its core, is about giving voice to ‘The Other.’ Speculative writing, in prose or poetry, focuses on not only imagined realities of the future, past, and present but also gives voice to bodies and individuals who are disabled, alien, marginalized, menial workers, and other traditionally neglected voices. Sci-fi and fantasy characters and voices can—and should—represent the underrepresented to create a sense of community as well as to challenge injustices in our real world.”

We hope to see you at some of our events at Split This Rock !

“Tongue Circling Stories” – Emily Shearer reviews Echo in Four Beats for Minerva Rising

Emily Shearer, Poetry Editor for Minerva Rising Press, reviews Rita Banerjee’s debut poetry collection Echo in Four Beats  on Minerva Rising.  In her review, entitled “Tongue Circling Stories: A Book Review of Echo in Four Beats by Rita Banerjee,” Shearer writes:

If you have been waiting for sounds to fall from Echo’s lips and stir you to wakefulness, do not wait until after tomorrow. Banerjee is here with a rallying cry to carpe the f*ck out of this diem. “There were no tomorrows left anymore,” she warns in “Après-demain,” and “. . . there isn’t a story i haven’t believed in,” from “Paper Men.”

Jaswinder Bolina, author of The 44th of July, Phantom Camera, and CarrierWave, has called this book “the first truly post-national book of poems [he’s] ever read.”

Banerjee’s scope is wide, and her reach does not exceed her grasp. While she looks for home, characterized as nothing more than a “constant state of momentary arrivals*,” she dwells in ocean, in moonlight, in making love to Thanatos as a lover worships the body next to her in bed. She explores the realms of water, whether shipwrecked Atlantis or sound inside a leaf-grown well. She revels in the oop! and wop of a didgeridoo and regales in the language of Hindu gods, Japanese frogs, and those the world over whose tongues circle the stories of these poems, “ready for what / it will allow: / to wait for sounds.”

Read the full review of Echo in Four Beats  here.

Echo in Four Beats Launch Party at the Weehawken Writers & Artists Studio

The Launch Party for Rita Banerjee’s Echo in Four Beats took place on Sunday, April 8 at the Weehawken Writers and Artists Studio.  The event included author signings, reading and performances from Echo in Four Beats, CREDO: An Anthology of Manifestos and Sourcebooks for Creative Writing, and poetry and fiction performances from writers Dallas AthentJonah Kruvant, and the editors of Quiet Lunch.  A gallery of the Echo in Four Beats festivities follows below:

Book Tour for Rita Banerjee’s Echo in Four Beats & CREDO: An Anthology of Manifestos and Sourcebook for Creative Writing

Interested in getting a signed copy of Rita Banerjee’s new poetry collection Echo in Four Beats (Finishing Line Press, March 2018) or edited volume CREDO: An Anthology of Manifestos and Sourcebook for Creative Writing (C&R Press, May 2018) and meeting the author?  If so, check out the book tour and signing schedule for Echo in Four Beats and CREDO below:

Thursday July 28, 2018:

Paris Lit Up featuring Rita Banerjee
Culture Rapide * 8:45 – 11:00 pm
103 rue Julien Lacroix,75020 Paris, France

Saturday June 2, 2018

The Munich Readery Presents:
Rita Banerjee’s Echo in Four Beats
The Munich Readery * 7:00 – 8:30 pm
Augustenstr. 104, Munich, Germany

Saturday June 2, 2018:

Cambridge Writers’ Workshop Reading &
CREDO: An Anthology of Manifestos Workshop
Grolier Poetry Festival – 90th  Anniversary Celebration
Plympton Street, Between Mass Ave & Bow Street
Harvard Square, Cambridge, MA * 2:40 – 4:15 pm

Friday April 20, 2018:

Disobedient Futures
A Split This Rock Off-Site Reading
Colony Club * 5:30-7:30pm
3118 Georgia Ave NW, Washington, DC 20010

Sunday April 8, 2018:

Echo in Four Beats Launch Party
Weehawken Writers and Artists Studio * 6-9 pm
10 Louisa Pl, Weehawken, NJ, 07086

Friday April 7, 2018:

Echo in Four Beats at First Fridays
The Zeitgeist Outpost * 7-8 pm
186 ½ Hampshire St., Cambridge, MA 02139

Tuesday March 27, 2018:

Public Reading & Q&A with Rita Banerjee
New Hampshire Institute of Art * 5:30-8:30 pm
148 Concord St, Manchester, NH 03104

Saturday March 10, 2018:

Echo in Four Beats Signing
Finishing Line Press Table (T743) * 1-2 pm
AWP 2018 Bookfair, Tampa Convention Center
333 S Franklin St, Tampa, FL 33602

Friday March 9, 2018:

Spontaneous Reading Party
Celebrating the Pre-Launch of CREDO
Centre for Women * 7:00 – 11:00 pm
305 S Hyde Park Ave, Tampa, FL 33606

Friday March 9, 2018:

CREDO Authors’ Signing
Cambridge Writers’ Workshop Table (T403) * 2-4 pm
AWP 2018 Bookfair, Tampa Convention Center
333 S Franklin St, Tampa, FL 33602

Friday March 9, 2018:

Echo in Four Beats Signing
Cambridge Writers’ Workshop Table (T403) * 1-2 pm
AWP 2018 Bookfair, Tampa Convention Center
333 S Franklin St, Tampa, FL 33602

Thursday March 8, 2018:

CREDO Editors’ Signing
C&R Press Booth (1036) * 2-3 pm
AWP 2018 Bookfair, Tampa Convention Center
333 S Franklin St, Tampa, FL 33602

April 8, 6-9 pm: Echo in Four Beats Launch Party at the Weehawken Writers and Artists Studio!

Sunday, April 8 * 6-9 pm
Weehawken Writers & Artists Studio
10 Louisa Pl., Weehawken, NJ 07086

Admission: Free

The Weehawken Writers & Artists Studio is delighted to host the launch party of Rita Banerjee’s debut poetry collection Echo in Four Beats !

Combining elements, rhythms, and personas from American jazz, blues, and ragtime, poet Rita Banerjee presents a modern-day spin on the love story of Echo and Narcissus in her debut full-length poetry collection, Echo in Four Beats . But in this story, told in four parts, Echo is more than just a fragment, she is a Sapphic voice that speaks, foretells, forestalls, and repeats.Echo in Four Beats, which was a finalist for the Red Hen Press Benjamin Saltman Award, the Three Mile Harbor Book Prize, the Aquarius Press/Willow Books Literature Award, was released by Finishing Line Press this March!

Books will be be available for purchase and signing by Rita!
Readings by: Rita Banerjee, Dallas Athent, Jonah Kruvant, and more!

About the Author:

Rita BanerjeeRitaBanerjee is the editor of CREDO: An Anthology of Manifestos and Sourcebook for Creative Writing (C&R Press, May 2018) and the author of the poetry collection Echo in Four Beats (Finishing Line Press, March 2018), the novella “A Night with Kali” in Approaching Footsteps (Spider Road Press, 2016), and the poetry chapbook Cracklers at Night (Finishing Line Press, 2010). She received her doctorate in Comparative Literature from Harvard and her MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Washington, and her writing appears in the Academy of American PoetsPoets & Writers, Nat. Brut.The Rumpus, Painted Bride Quarterly, Mass Poetry, Hyphen Magazine, Los Angeles Review of BooksElectric Literature, VIDA, Objet d’Art, KBOO Radio’s APA Compass, and elsewhere. She is the Executive Creative Director of the Cambridge Writers’ Workshop.   She is the judge for the 2017 Minerva Rising “Dare to Speak” Poetry Chapbook Contest, and she is currently working on a novel, a book on South Asian literary modernisms, and a collection of lyric essays on race, sex, politics, and everything cool.

April 8, 2-4 pm: Literary Manifestos and What’s at Stake Workshop at the Weehawken Writers and Artists Studio

Literary Manifestos & What’s at Stake Workshop
Sunday, April 8 * 2-4 pm * Admission: $30

Weehawken Writers & Artists Studio
10 Louisa Pl., Weehawken, NJ 07086

The Weehawken Writers & Artists Studio is delighted to host a creative writing workshop on  Literary Manifestos & What’s at Stake Workshop!

CREDO. I believe. No other statement is so full of intent and subversion and power. A Credo is a call to arms. It is a declaration. A Credo is the act of an individual pushing back against society, against established stigmas, taboos, values, and norms. A Credo provokes. It desires change. A Credo is an artist or community challenging dogma, and putting oneself on the front line. A Credo is art at risk. A Credo can be a marker of revolution. A Credo, is thus, the most calculating and simple form of a manifesto. In this creative writing workshop, writers will get a chance to create their own literary manifestos and discuss what’s at stake in their own writing, art, and craft. We will read literary manifestos and poetry from writers such as Allen Ginsberg, Sunil Gangopadhyay, Amiri Baraka, and Bianca Stone, and will explore how writers and readers become more invested in a work of writing, its performance, and its narrative by raising the stakes.

About the Instructor:

Rita BanerjeeRitaBanerjee is the editor of CREDO: An Anthology of Manifestos and Sourcebook for Creative Writing (C&R Press, May 2018) and the author of the poetry collection Echo in Four Beats (Finishing Line Press, March 2018), the novella “A Night with Kali” in Approaching Footsteps (Spider Road Press, 2016), and the poetry chapbook Cracklers at Night (Finishing Line Press, 2010). She received her doctorate in Comparative Literature from Harvard and her MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Washington, and her writing appears in the Academy of American PoetsPoets & Writers, Nat. Brut.The Rumpus, Painted Bride Quarterly, Mass Poetry, Hyphen Magazine, Los Angeles Review of BooksElectric Literature, VIDA, Objet d’Art, KBOO Radio’s APA Compass, and elsewhere. She is the Executive Creative Director of the Cambridge Writers’ Workshop.   She is the judge for the 2017 Minerva Rising “Dare to Speak” Poetry Chapbook Contest, and she is currently working on a novel, a book on South Asian literary modernisms, and a collection of lyric essays on race, sex, politics, and everything cool.

Melissa Grunow Reviews Echo in Four Beats on The Coil

Poet and writer Melissa Grunow reviews Rita Banerjee’s debut poetry collection, Echo in Four Beats for The Coil Journal.  In her review, entitled “On Rita Banerjee’s ‘Echo in Four Beats,'” Grunow writes:

In her debut poetry collection, Echo in Four Beats, Rita Banerjee demonstrates mastery of controlled language and shrewd observation. From depictions of the world’s smallest fragments of wonder to an investigation of its vast expansiveness, Banerjee’s breadth of intrinsic compassion reverberates in each poem.

A finalist for the Red Hen Press Benjamin Saltman Award, Three Mile Harbor Poetry Prize, and Aquarius Press / Willow Books Literature Award, Echo in Four Beats conveys an understanding of nature, human connection, literary and historical novelties, and intercontinental divides unlike any other.

Each poem is unique and compelling in its voice and persona, identities that shapeshift and morph across state lines, borderlands, and oceans. There is agility to the lyricism, images taking shape among lines that swing like pendulums and pivot like spinning tops. Stanzas are built with intentional precision that will drop you into the moments of experience, scrutiny, and enchantment that shudder and reverberate.

Read Grunow’s full review of Echo in Four Beats here, and order Echo in Four Beats (March 9, 2018) from Finishing Line Press here.

Visiting Writer Rita Banerjee at the New Hampshire Institute of Art

Rita Banerjee will be a Visiting Writer at the New Hampshire Institute of Art this Spring.  She will be lecturing and giving workshops on topics such as “Rasa: Emotion and Suspense in Theatre, Poetry, and (Non)Fiction,” “Poetry and What’s at Stake,” and “Revising, Pitching, and Publishing” at NHIA on Tuesday, March 27.  In addition, she will be holding a discussion with Ayris editors and staff on Tuesday, March 27.  Rita Banerjee will also be reading from her debut poetry collection Echo in Four Beats at the French Hall Rotunda at NHIA from 5:30-7:30 pm on Tuesday, March 27, 2018.  The poetry reading and Q&A for Echo in Four Beats is free and open to the public.

Echo Speaks: Rita Banerjee’s Echo in Four Beats Interview feat. in Manchester’s The Hippo

Rita Banerjee will be a Visiting Artist at the New Hampshire Institute of Art this Spring, and will be reading from her debut poetry collection Echo in Four Beats at the French Hall Rotunda at NHIA from 5:30-7:30 pm on Tuesday, March 27, 2018.

Rita Banerjee’s poetry debut Echo in Four Beats was featured on New Hampshire Weekly’s The Hippo today.  In the article, entitled “Echo Speaks,” journalist Angie Sykeny interviews Rita Banerjee about her new collection of poems, and discusses gender roles, feminism, and speech acts with the author.  Here’s a short excerpt from the interview below:

The New Hampshire Institute of Art in Manchester welcomes a special guest writer, Rita Banerjee, on Tuesday, March 27, for a reading, signing and discussion of her debut collection of poetry, Echo in Four Beats, released earlier this month.

What is the idea behind Echo in Four Beats? 
It dreams of a common language. What happens when people from different backgrounds and places of power, with different ideas of masculinity and femininity, come together … and figure out how to connect, despite language barriers, and despite defined roles? How do they find ways to support that female agency and the female gaze? 

What would you like readers to take away from Echo in Four Beats?
I would like readers to kind of interrogate their own power and find where and how they can express their own voice. It doesn’t have to be in proper English to express ourselves and our complicated identities in an honored form. I hope people will read [the poems] and be able to relate, but I hope it also invites response, and that they will try to express themselves in that form. 

And you can read “Echo Speaks” on The Hippo here.