Rita Banerjee’s Hindi / English poem “One Night” (एक रात में) feat. in the Tahoma Literary Review

Rita Banerjee’s Hindi poem, “एक रात में” (“Ek Rāt Meṃ,” “One Night”) is featured in Issue 13 (December 2018) of the Tahoma Literary Review.  You can order a copy of Issue 13 of The Tahoma Literary in print or on Kindle.  On the poem, Banerjee writes:

“When I was a Visiting Scholar at UC Berkeley and working on my dissertation on South Asian literary modernisms, I took a wonderful Hindi Literature and Language course with the unforgettable Usha Jain.  In class, we read satirical and socially and psychologically subversive works by Premchand and Sa’ādat Hasan Manto in their original Hindi and in Hindi translation from Urdu. During class, Usha Jain encouraged us to write poems, essays, and stories, in Hindi, too. This poem, “One Night,” is meant to be a nod towards the dark humor Premchand and Manto espoused, especially during troubled times.”

You can read more about the featured poem here.

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!

Celebrating CREDO: An Anthology of Manifestos and Sourcebook for Creative Writing’s Publication Day!

CREDO-RitaBanerjee-DianaNormaSzokolyai

The Cambridge Writers’ Workshop is celebrating the publication of CREDO: An Anthology of Manifestos and Sourcebook for Creative Writing today!

CREDO (C&R Press, May 15, 2018) is edited by writers and CWW co-directors Rita Banerjee and Diana Norma Szokolyai and assistant editors Alexander Carrigan and Megan Jeanine Tilley. CREDO advocates for the empowerment of female, LGBTQ+, and other marginalized literary voices, with essays and manifestos that cover a wide range of subjects, including transgender poetics, world literature and aesthetics, collage and appropriation, and the politics of place. By presenting a triad of creative writing manifestos, essays on the craft of writing, and creative writing exercises, CREDO bridges the theoretical, political, and aesthetic perspectives on contemporary writing with practical and accessible writing advice. Our incredible CREDO contributing authors are some of the most exciting voices in contemporary poetry, fiction and non-fiction and will leave you feeling inspired.

Meet Our Contributing Authors!

Kazim Ali \ Forrest Anderson \ Rita Banerjee \ Lisa Marie Basile \ Jaswinder Bolina \ Stephanie Burt \ Alexander Carrigan \ Sam Cha \ Melinda J. Combs \ Thade Correa \ Jeff Fearnside \ Ariel Francisco \ John Guzlowski \ Rachael Hanel \ Janine Harrison \ Lindsay Illich \ Douglas Charles Jackson \ Caitlin Johnson \ Christine Johnson-Duell \ Jason Kapcala \ Richard Kenney \ Eva Langston \ John Laue \ Stuart Lishan \ Ellaraine Lockie \ Amy MacLennan \ Kevin McLellan \ E. Ce. Miller \ Brenda Moguez \ Peter Mountford \ Nell Irvin Painter \ Robert Pinsky \ Kara Provost \ Camille Rankine \ Jessica Reidy \ Amy Rutten \ Elisabeth Sharp McKetta \ David Shields \ Lillian Ann Slugocki \ Maya Sonenberg \ Kathleen Spivack \ Laura Steadham Smith \ Molly Sutton Kiefer \ Jade Sylvan \ Anca L. Szilágyi \ Diana Norma Szokolyai \ Marilyn L. Taylor \ Megan Jeanine Tilley \ Suzanne Van Dam \ Nicole Walker \ Allyson Whipple \ Shawn Wong \ Caroll Sun Yang \ Matthew Zapruder

On Saturday, May 19, the Cambridge Writers’ Workshop will celebrate the 90th Anniversary of the Grolier Poetry Book Shop at the Grolier Poetry Festival in Harvard Square. CREDO contributing authors Kathleen Spivack, Kevin McLellan and the CWW’s co-director and CREDO editor, Diana Norma Szokolyai will read. Diana Norma Szokolyai will also be teaching a CREDO workshop where copies of CREDO will be available for purchase. Stop by between 1-4 p.m.!

CREDO: An Anthology of Manifestos and Sourcebook for Creative Writing can be purchased through C&R Press, Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

Rita Banerjee’s Echo in Four Beats Reviewed on Yellow Rabbits

Greg Bem, curator of Yellow Rabbits, reviews Rita Banerjee’s debut poetry collection Echo in Four Beats (Finishing Line Press, March 2018).  In the review, Bem writes:

For every moving shade,
there was a jewel,
a bunt cake,
tea with honey,
rubies, too,
found them dead in a village
near the Ganges,
in some bastard king’s chest

(from “Pygmalion & the Slippers”)

At its core, the Echo in Four Beats is about Ovid’s myth of Echo and Narcissus, which serves as a fitting allegory for poetry in general, but also the landscape previously-described. A dualism within the speakers of these poems is a dualism of acceptance and rejection, of sequences of flight and iterations of home…

 

We were like that—lanterns in the midday sun,
laughter against a white-noise wind, tongues
circling salt-water stories, cliffs cocooned by the afternoon, cameras
catching harbor fish, reptiles, serpents, impossible possibilities–

(from “Atlantis”)

Much of the experience where these transformations are derived, carried by the mythic allegories the poet’s subtle adaptations of ancient lessons, is tangibly encountered in place and culture. While the back cover of Echo in Four Beats contains a quote by Jaswinder Bolina describing the book as “post-national,” I believe the antithesis is far more obvious. This is a book collecting poems that encounters and elevates individual nations, individual cultural histories, and appreciates them through their intertwining. In the ways the otherness in Echo and Narcissus is an otherness of affection and difference, so too is the distinct origins of the spaces and roots presented in this book.

Read the full review of Echo in Four Beats on Yellow Rabbits here.

Book Riot’s Must-Read Poetic Voices from Split This Rock 2018 feat. Rita Banerjee’s Echo in Four Beats

Poet Christina M. Rau reviews the “Must-Read Poetic Voices from Split This Rock 2018” on Book Riot and features Rita Banerjee’s new poetry collection Echo in Four Beats (Finishing Line Press, March 2018).  She writes:

Split This Rock is an organization that “celebrates poetry that bears witness to injustice and provokes social change.” Every two years, they host a festival. This year, I was fortunate enough to attend its readings, workshops, and panels. In the tumultuous socio-political landscape of the United States today, poetry filled the air in DC. Voices rang out, speaking to a vast array of issues. Here are some of the voices we should be paying close attention to.

On my own panel, “Fantasy as Reality: Activism and Catharsis through Speculative Literature,” I was fortunate enough to sit beside Marlena Chertock and Rita Banerjee. Chertock uses her experience with skeletal dysplasia as a bridge to science writing. She spoke of a project she’s currently working on about imaging the future during climate change. Her current collection that includes a proposed application to NASA is Crumb-Sized: Poems. Banerjee’s work comes from a slant of decolonization and celebrating diverse writers. Echo In Four Beats is her latest project that re-imagines mythologies through language and power shifts.

This small round-up of voices is only a fraction of what Split This Rock had to offer. Line after line, moment after moment, action unfolded through poetry and then a literal walk to the White House in support of students protesting against gun violence. Reading these collections is one way to start to see a bigger picture of who we are as citizens of the world. That’s a great way to keep alive the conversations that began and continued at this festival.

Read the whole article on Book Riot here.

CREDO & the Cambridge Writers’ Workshop feat. at the Grolier Poetry Festival – Saturday June 2, 12-8pm, Harvard Square, Cambridge, MA

On Saturday June 2, 2018, the Grolier Poetry Book Shop, the oldest poetry bookstore in the United States, will be celebrating its 90th Anniversary in Cambridge, MA. In order to celebrate 90 years of literary and intellectual activity, the Grolier will be hosting The Grolier Poetry Festival, featuring street performances, writing workshops, literary readings, food, and books in Harvard Square.  The Cambridge Writers’ Workshop is delighted to be featured at the Grolier Poetry Festival on June 2 in Harvard Square.  Join us for our featured readings, performances, and CREDO Workshop!  The Cambridge Writers’ Workshop’s new anthology CREDO: An Anthology of Manifestos & Sourcebook for Creative Writing (eds. Rita Banerjee & Diana Norma Szokolyai, May 15, 2018) can be pre-ordered form C&R Press here!  Information about our events and writers are posted below:

A 90th Anniversary Celebration
June 2, 2018, 12pm–8pm

Location: Outside Plympton St,
Between Mass Ave & Bow Street
Harvard Square, Cambridge, MA
1:00-2:00pm                
Welcome and Opening Remarks, Ifeanyi Menkiti, Proprietor, Director, Grolier Poetry Book Shop
 
Poets Read
David Ferry, Kathleen Spivack, and Lloyd Scwartz and Lillian Yvonne Bertram
 
2:40–3:35pm
Poets Read
Cambridge Writer’s Workshop: Diana Norma Szokolyai, accompanied by Audrey Harrer, Harpist • Kevin McLellan
 
3:35-4:15pm  (off stage)
Diana Norma Szokolyai leads a workshop based on CREDO: An Anthology of Manifestos and Sourcebook for Creative Writingthat she and Rita Banerjee edited. This newly released book will be available for purchase.

Featured Authors:

DianVersion 2a Norma Szokolyai is author of Parallel Sparrows (honorable mention for Best Poetry Book, 2014 Paris Book Festival), Roses in the Snow (first runner­up, Best Poetry Book, 2009 DIY Book Festival), and a feminist rewriting of a classic fairytale for Brooklyn Art Library’s The Fiction Project, entitled Beneath the Surface: Blue Beard, Remixed. Szokolyai’s poetry and prose has been published in MER VOX Quarterly, VIDA Review, Quail Bell Magazine, The Boston Globe, Luna Luna Magazine, Up the Staircase Quarterly, and has been anthologized in Other Countries: Contemporary Poets Rewiring History, Teachers as Writers & elsewhere. Her edited volume is CREDO: An Anthology of Manifestos & Sourcebook for Creative Writing (C&R Press, 2018). She’s founding Executive Artistic Director of Cambridge Writers’ Workshop. Szokolyai is author of Introduction, and the essay “What’s At Stake?” in CREDO: An Anthology of Manifestos and Sourcebook for Creative Writing (C&R Press, May 2018).

Kathleen Spivack’s novel Unspeakable Things was released by Knopf in early 2016. Her previous book, the memoir With Robert Lowell and His Circle: Sylvia Plath, Anne Sexton, Elizabeth Bishop, Stanley Kunitz and Others was published by the University Press of New England in 2012. Her chapbook, A History of Yearning, won the Sows Ear International Poetry Chapbook Prize in 2010, and she recently received the Allen Ginsberg, Erika Mumford, and Paumanok awards for her poetry. Her book won the New England Book Festival and London Book Festival Prizes. Published in over 400 magazines and anthologies, Kathleen’s work has been translated into French. She has held grants from the National Endowment for the Arts; Massachusetts Artists Foundation; Bunting Institute; Howard Foundation; Massachusetts Council for the Arts and Humanities; is a Discovery winner and has been at Yaddo, MacDowell, Ragdale, Karolyi, and the American Academy in Rome. In Boston and Paris she directs the Advanced Writing Workshop, an intensive training program for professional writers. She has taught at conferences in Paris, Aspen, Santa Fe, Burgundy, Skidmore, and on the high seas, (Holland American Line). Spivak is the author of the Craft of Writing essays, “The Writing Exercise: A Recipe” and “Words As Inspiration” in CREDO: An Anthology of Manifestos and Sourcebook for Creative Writing (C&R Press, May 2018).

Kevin McLellan is the author of Ornitheology (The Word Works, 2018), Hemispheres (Fact-Simile Editions, 2018), [box] (Letter [r] Press, 2016), Tributary (Barrow Street, 2015), and Round Trip (Seven Kitchens, 2010). He won the 2015 Third Coast Poetry Prize and Gival Press’ 2016 Oscar Wilde Award, and his poems appear in numerous literary journals. Kevin lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts. McLellan’s essay, “Attributes: A Prompt,” can be found in the Exercises section of CREDO: An Anthology of Manifestos and Sourcebook for Creative Writing (C&R Press, May 2018).

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).