Reading a poem

We had a book club session which I will be blogging about soon, and I found myself wondering what book had made such a supreme impression. There have been many, many books. I’m a fickle reader- I flit from book to book, linger on some pages, and then rush to another tome or even screen. I had resolved to read every book that came my way, but I take my time with them, and though the falling into love with books is routine, few embed themselves in memory.

Now I take books seriously- review books, complete reading books, write books.

But what piece of writing has stayed with me?

It had to be a poem.The Waste Land by T.S.Eliot was a poem that I loved for reasons far from the poem. It had to do with the teacher who read it to us and turned it into some kind of anthem in our minds. Always, always April is the cruelest month, even though it is the time of our own harvest festival. Always there is hope, even when there isn’t.

So I read a bit of the poem- and it was as though my professor was reading it to us again in that faraway classroom that I wish I could go back to. That could be why the poem moved me, because it had moved someone else as well, in a place that still existed on the map but was now completely inaccessible and severed by time.

Have you found yourself rereading something- a poem, a book, and realizing why that piece of work meant what it did? Sometimes it could be a revelation.

© neelthemuse, 2015
Check out my book Unsettled @ Amazon







Posted by on February 24, 2015 in Day to day


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I must confess I am not through blogging. I blog a great deal where I work and that has led me to the illusion that I am blogging after all and have left nothing behind.But I have, of course.

Waxing eloquent about poetry is not enough– you must pursue it, but as this is my place of honesty, I have not been pursuing poetry for a while now. Not at all– all my interests are going prosaic and this worries me. Though I did madly read Philip Levine the other day.

There are many things about me that my blog has not touched and I find this strange.


The first #book(see I’m a hashtag addict) I ever wrote was a self-help book. It took a couple of years for all the wheels and cogs to come together, but I wrote it to see if 326 pages was possible. It was.

Then I wrote a short novella, and considering that this is my blog and that it must be self-serving, I should have done more work on the paranormal romance genre and speculative fiction genre in general.

Has it ever happened to you that you have been blogging for a long time and you suddenly realized that you had a place at your disposal to say so many things, and you didn’t? I envy those who use their fbs and twitters to speak so fluently about the place where they are at.

It calls for some kind of fluency of the fingers to type out your life to your timeline.

When will I ever learn to do it–must I? Must you?

Of course.

© neelthemuse, 2015
Check out my book Unsettled @ Amazon



Posted by on February 18, 2015 in Books, Day to day, Fiction, Paranormal Romance


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In a new year mood (that has been dampened by the ways of the world) I visited my Submittable page(the page where are all your submissions to poetry and fiction journals can be recorded) and saw that my submission count of poetry and fiction has been so very limited!

Why is this?

There could be many reasons I do not submit enough and many that you do this as well.

In general, there are many problems with submitting poems. Most magazines will not accept poetry published on your blog or any other social media. So you limit posting them and since posing them is as good as an incentive as any, you write less poetry!

Then there is the problem of writing poems in a  consistent place. Many poems I’ve written have been misplaced or have disappeared along with my hard disk (I’m still grieving over this). You can never capture a poem once it is lost as you  write it in a certain kind of state of mind. How do you save the state of mind?

Then there is the manuscript. You pack whatever you have salvaged into a single Word Doc. The doc grows and grows and then when you look at it after a while, you wonder why so many expletives are about to erupt.

After all you wrote this.

Submittable has salvaged one or two poems I wrote and I am grateful as I can download some work that never made it into the world. Rejections are sometimes a godsend when all memory, your own and the digital Proust fail.

© neelthemuse, 2015
Check out my book Unsettled @ Amazon


Posted by on January 10, 2015 in Day to day


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Easy Hat

Is creativity the easiest hat to wear? A magician’s hat?

A poet has it easy- she writes poems if she is persistent, she publishes in several journals and starts making a name for herself.

A writer writes a story, maybe an e-book that sells like hotcakes. Then he writes a sequel, and then another. His series gets picked up by a producer and now his eureka moment in the bath is a multi-million dollar business.

An artist draws a circle and it turns into a motif known world over.

But whatever is created is made between living and the best work can hardly ever come with success as the final goal. The characters have to talk to you, the melody has to translate from a moment on to the page and the image must come from a heartbeat.

So it can not be the easiest hat to wear. On the contrary.

That’s my 2014 lesson. You can not take this idea of creativity as a permanent sticker that will label your existence. It’s just an indication of the road you should walk on.

You must learn one thing

The world was made to be free in

Give up all worlds

except the one to which you belong.

(David Whyte)

© neelthemuse, 2014
Check out my book Unsettled @ Amazon



Posted by on December 28, 2014 in Day to day


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Talking to The ‘Great’ Indian Poetry Collective

One day I sauntered into a writing workshop headed by Ellen after I talked with Shikha. It was a lovely magical experience. Ellen’s workshops are a treat.

I had just happened to meet a Poetry Collective in the making.

When you think that you are alone in your love for poetry, an alternative world filled with poetry love opens up. It’s that simple. I talked to the lovely ladies about their campaign to support Indian poets.

Why is a collective is good for poets?

Starting this poetry collective has been nothing short of transformational. We often think of writing as a solitary practice, and part of it is:  a writer has to contend with the blank page again and again and grapple with words. It’s magical, fulfilling, and at times requires a good dose of bravery. The other piece about being a writer is that we all need support, and this is what the collective offers:  support and outreach.

Under our peer mentorship model, new poets are paired with published poets to hone and fine-tune their manuscripts through a rigorous editorial process, leading to publication. Once a manuscript is ready, the poet is involved in all aspects of layout and design, working with talented graphic designers and artists.

In addition, our workshops, talks and readings reach hundreds of aspiring poets as well as poetry lovers. We’ve held wildly popular workshops at literary festivals, colleges, and bookstores in India as well as in the United States. Our app, inPoetry, will launch next month, bringing contemporary Indian poets directly to smartphone readers everywhere.  Poets emerge from working with us — whether in a one-day workshop or during a two-year commitment as a collective member — more confident and empowered to bring their skills to the wider poetry world.

The kind of books you are planning to bring out?

We are hard at work to bring out the most diverse voices from global India. We are publishing only first and second books, ensuring that we’re discovering the most vital new voices.

One book per year will always be by a poet living in India, and at least one book will always be by a woman. We also have anthologies in the pipeline, including a teaching anthology for teachers to share contemporary Indian poetry with their students, and a groundbreaking collection of living women poets from India and the diaspora. Our app, inPoetry, will include a new Indian poem every week, introducing readers to some of the freshest and most exciting writing in India today.

A ‘Collective’ secret!

Minal’s dog Champi is an honorary collective member and has the title of Chief Morale Officer. She is working on her own collection of poems that all rhyme with the word “dog.”



Also a link to your prompts. The prompts are poetry in themselves!

Right now, all of the prompts are on our Facebook page as part of our indiegogo campaign to raise funds for the press. One of the PERKS available is a PDF of all 40 inspiring writing prompts! Please visit our campaign to see all the goodies, including some book raffle/giveaways in the countdown to the end of our campaign on December 19!


Thank you! 

Thank you so much for talking poetry with us, Neelima!

For your readers who are interested in joining our collective, we’ll be choosing new members based on book-length manuscripts during our open reading period in February 2015. Please keep up with us on our website, our Facebook page, and our Twitter account for open calls, workshops, new releases and more.


© neelthemuse, 2014
Check out my book Unsettled @ Amazon

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Posted by on December 15, 2014 in Day to day


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Reading a poem for the first time

Facebook is a good thing sometimes. Came across a poem by Galway Kinnell called ‘Little Sleep’s-Head Sprouting Hair in the Moonlight’ and it was like reading something I knew but could not articulate adequately enough. The first reading of any poem is like that- there are just words in the beginning. I like this stage of reading.

“I,like you, only sooner
than you, will go down
the path of vanished alphabets,
the roadlessness
to the other side of the darkness,

your arms
like the shoes left behind,
like the adjectives in the halting speech
of old men,
which once could call up the lost nouns.”

Then when you read again and again, synapses intervene and meaning comes out. That’s when the epiphany occurs or even disappointment.

The newness of syntax is probably what makes poetry so readable for some and unreadable for others. Syntax makes everything meaningful; it’s like the structure we give our lives. What do we do when the structure falls apart? What syntax can we salvage then? This is probably why it makes sense to read a poem everyday as the disruption of what we know is often what life is all about.

The one place poetry courses could fail is that these intervene with your first reading. The words are circled and analyzed. The meanings are made to come out, then linked to biographies of the poets who wrote them. Sometimes the analysis can take us somewhere the poem didn’t want to go.

What has your first reading of any poem been like?

© neelthemuse, 2014
Check out my book Unsettled @ Amazon


Posted by on November 5, 2014 in Day to day


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What is it?

It’s life itself and sometimes it gets too loud. Then that reputation you built based on reading and writing poems everyday goes London Bridge is falling down , falling down, falling down.

But it is not that simple. Just when you conclude that maybe noise can take over, you read a poem again and then you write one and then another.

Habits have a halo of immortality about them.

Anyway I have been blogging @InstaScribe about books on writing.

Are there are any books you think I should read about writing? It is a myth that reading books on writing will stop you from writing; they remind you not to forget.

© neelthemuse, 2014
Check out my book Unsettled @ Amazon

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Posted by on October 31, 2014 in Books


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