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I have finally finished responding to all the poetry submissions from the October submission period of Uncanny. It took longer than I’d imagined. Since this was my first round as poetry editor, I had intended to read every submission myself (I did), but I hadn’t imagined just how many submissions a magazine like Uncanny receives in each submission period (400+, as it turned out), or how long it takes to read all of them.

Both ends of a set of submissions can be time-consuming for different reasons. On one hand, there are submissions that are so odd that you can’t merely hit the reject button — you stare and marvel at the henceforth unacquainted dimensions of the human mind. On the other, by the time you have narrowed down to a second tier of submissions, nearly every poem is strong, vibrant, important, deserving of publication space. I had spent many years of my early youth trying to learn to critique poetry, then shelved away that training in an unused section of my brain, since I moved on to editing and writing fiction. Never before has that training been so strongly called into application. It was exhilarating.

I have been trying to return to writing poetry myself, but moving back into that home is a slower process. Going back home is never the same as never leaving, anyway.

I have not gone back to my physical home in a long time. It occurs to me that 2017 is the first year I will have spent entirely away from home. It’s a year of no passport stamps. A first, ever since I acquired the passport.

I am waiting for many things, but solstice, and longer days, will be the easiest achieved and welcome. For the new year, I wish for more quietude of the heart, music, stories, writing, hope.

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Writing in 2017, Part II

2017 was a difficult, depressing year, but sometimes when you’ve been through possibly the worst time(s) of your life and emerged on the other side, everything else feels relatively pale. So, let’s say 2017 was a relatively pale year.

In January, I moved to New York.

In March, I published an article in Uncanny Magazine.

(In May, I acquired a new therapist.)

In June, I became a fellow at the New York Foundation for the Arts.

(In July, I turned 30.)

In August, Luminescent Threads came out, a book that I co-edited with Alexandra Pierce of Twelfth Planet Press.

In September, I started working as the Poetry and Reprint Editor of Uncanny Magazine.

In October, I had my first New York reading at the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts, one of the two largest branches of the NYPL.

In November, I published an article in Words Without Borders.

In December, in a few more days, I will have a small story published in Anathema Magazine.

In between, bleakness, writing, occasional pleasure, entirely too many cigarettes. The political situations of both India and the United States get worse every day than I have ever known in my life. (In India, I was born a few years after the Emergency, and was too young during Babri Masjid. I was still too young during the Kargil War, and actually considered it a positive thing.)

I am darker, angrier, wearier than I have ever been before. I channel my obsessive streak into reading the news for hours, and still never catch up with all the horrors sprouting everywhere, every minute.

My heart, that overused organ, has been put to cryosleep. The only thing that stirs it up any more is the occasional nightmare.

I feel like an animal, which isn’t fantastic, but preferable to feeling like a corpse.

What else? New York is cold and I like where I’m living, but Clinton Street is many miles from here, in Lower Manhattan, too far for the music to waft in.

I am getting by. I am thankful for the sunshine on my face, the kindness of strangers — all that has come my way since the time I tried to commit suicide in 2015. I am living on borrowed time and grace. Everything is a miracle. All of you reading this (or not).

The world will get better, I promise. We will live to see it together.

 

Space Unicorns Get New Poetry Editor: Talking with Mimi Mondal

Here’s a fantastic interview I did with Bryan Thao Worra, President of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Poetry Association. Contains details about what I enjoy in poetry, and also how editors should approach Dalit writers, besides other things.

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I recently had the pleasure to learn more about the Dalit community of South Asia and one of their wonderful emerging writers, Mimi Mondal. You can see my interview with her over at SPECPO, the blog for the Science Fiction and Fantasy Poetry Association.

She is the new poetry editor at Uncanny Magazine, which has been a long-time supporter of my work, particularly imaginative pieces that might have struggled elsewhere to find a home.

Mimi Mondal and I had an extensive conversation on how to encourage more voices from the Dalit community and writers to watch for, and what she looks for in her own writing and verse. I enjoyed discussing literature with her greatly, and found there to be some exciting opportunities for collaboration and mutual support of each other’s emerging literary voices in the future. I recommend keeping an eye out for her over the years ahead!

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NYFA Immigrant Artist Mentoring Program 2017

I recently became a fellow for the Immigrant Artist Mentoring Program conducted by the New York Foundation for the Arts, where I am paired with the Iranian writer Poupeh Missaghi as my mentor for the next four months. This was the first non-science-fiction-related break I have had in this country, although Poupeh also wants to look at my magical realism writing, so that’s pretty cool.

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The 2017 cohort of NYFA’s Immigrant Artist Mentoring Program, on the first day of our meeting

Continue reading “NYFA Immigrant Artist Mentoring Program 2017”

I have a review! – on Quick Sip Reviews

When I first started publishing seriously (i.e. not teenage-angsty poems hastily scribbled and sent off to the local newspaper), I had no idea how hard it was to find intelligent or likeminded readers. I had a poetry blog that was fairly popular with my college friends, and I respected my college friends – English or Comparative Literature students at Jadavpur University, most of them – as intelligent and likeminded readers. They were a ready readership: we all knew and occasionally checked each other’s blogs; all I had to do was put up something on mine, and the readers would come automatically. Continue reading “I have a review! – on Quick Sip Reviews”