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.

“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.

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.

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.

“There is no end to the story” – Moushumi Sen Sarma reviews Rita Banerjee’s Munich Creative Writing Workshops

MunichWorkshopsMunich-based writer and novelist, Moushumi Sen Sarma, reviews Rita Banerjee’s creative writing workshops in her essay, “There is no end to the story.”  Sen Sarma writes:

If you have wondered what I have been up to all these days, and for that matter, what I am up to in general, here is the blog post that will tell you. I have been and am writing, my friends. Until recently, I have been working on two novels, and some short stories. A few weeks ago, I attended a workshop on the art of world-building in science fiction and suddenly wrote up the first pages of a third novel. So now I am working on three novels. Plus those short stories. Also I am totally excited about a poetry workshop coming up next Saturday. Because I do ocassionally write these short lines on a sheet of paper that tend to sound lyrical, at least to me. So soon, I shall find out if they qualify as poetry or not…

But I am really lucky to have found a thriving community of English-language writers in Munich, supported by a wonderful independent bookstore and its proprietors Lisa Yarger and John Browner, and an inspiring teacher in Rita Banerjee. Ever since I found out about her workshops, that’s two years ago, I have diligently attended all the ones I could. Back when I was still doing science, I found conferences to be very inspiring. I would come back from one of those, all fired up and raring to work on some new idea that I had.

These literary workshops do the same for me. I look at my work with new eyes and come back encouraged and inspired. And I write, revise, write, revise and I enjoy every moment of the process. That is how I know that I have found my calling. Do you enjoy what you do? Do you like it so much that you don’t mind the ups and downs that come with it? If the answers are yes to both, you will know that you have found your calling too.

Read the full review here.

Review of Emi Katayama’s With the Wind

With the Wind is a new feature-length documentary, directed by Emi Katayama, on the art of hot-air ballooning and the exhilarating but often dangerous sport of gas ballooning. In the film, the viewer is invited into the electrifying but equally hazardous world of gas balloon racing.

The film follows the journeys of three exceptional pilots, the American balloonists Richard Abruzzo, Carol Rymer Davis, and Bills Hughes, as they demonstrate first-hand the risks and challenges of competitive balloon racing. Abruzzo and Rymer Davis comprise an award-winning gas balloon racing team, and the film captures their extraordinary, challenging journey step-by-step as they compete in risky, long-distance races to defend their world title in the Gordon Bennett competition, the planet’s oldest aviation race. The viewer watches Abruzzo and Rymer Davis float idyllically in a small basket and also struggle to maintain control of their balloon in treacherous weather. They are often pushed to the limits of both mental and physical exhaustion, and their frustration and their make-no-compromise quest to win the world title is fascinating and gripping to watch, especially as their journey, full of triumphs and setbacks, is met with tragedy.

In contrast with Abruzzo and Rymer Davis’s perilous journey, Katayama’s film explores the story of Bill Hughes, a hot-air balloon pilot who quietly shares his passion for the sport by flying passengers over great stretches of upstate New York. Hughes’s famed balloon displays the image of a seagull, and pays tribute to Richard Bach’s iconic novella, Jonathan Livingston Seagull. Bach’s novella explores themes of self-reliance, selfhood, and enlightenment as it follows the seaward journeys of its titular character across continents and oceans. Like Jonathan, Hughes arrives at understandings of his own self-worth and quest as he shares his knowledge and love of ballooning with others.

Katayama’s film explores the triumphs and tribulations of recreational and competitive hot-air ballooning with nuance, empathy, and breathtaking cinematography. Katayama, who is a writer and director from New York City and who has specialized in programming for Japanese national broadcasters, artfully captures the lyricism and stakes of contemporary hot-air balloon racing and culture. Watching the journeys of these hot-air balloonists on screen is both evocative and thrilling. The documentary is a must-see film for anyone who has ever been fascinated by aviation races and extreme sport competitions, and for anyone who has wanted to travel and see the world from the perch of a hot-air balloon.  – Rita Banerjee