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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

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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

 

 
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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.”

IMG_0036

 

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! http://igg.me/at/gr8indianpoetry

 

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 www.greatindianpoetrycollective.org, our Facebook page www.facebook.com/indianpoetrycollective, and our Twitter account www.twitter.com/gr8indianpoetry 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

 
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Posted by on November 5, 2014 in Day to day

 

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A poet’s timeline

I’ve been perusing a great many twitter timelines on twitter lately. One timeline that I find delightful is this one by George Szirteshttps://twitter.com/george_szirtes.

He writes a series of one poem or maybe a continuous theme in 140 characters. The poem I followed was posted at various times of the day.

Everywhere was elsewhere. I knew the streets and I knew the faces and bodies. This was the map. Let’s haunt it, said the ghost.

As simple as that and rather effective. This looks like the future of poetry, though one thing that worries me is reading the poem backwards. Will that change the way we experience the poem or alter its intent?

During my long hiatus is April and May, I tried reading a book backwards and found that I was able to finish much faster. It works for non-fiction but poetry?

Apparently there is a reverse timeline app, though I haven’t figured that one out. More and more writers today are becoming tech geeks- no wonder about it. If your medium is technology, shouldn’t you try to understand your tools? Much more than paper and pencil.

I’ve been trying my hand at a couple of digi-poems as well; twitter could be a good place to start posting them.

Are there any poets whose twitter timelines you follow? Who are they?

© neelthemuse, 2014
Check out my book Unsettled @ Amazon

 

 

 

 
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Posted by on August 9, 2014 in Day to day

 

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Showing your Work

The primary reason I started this blog was to post some of my poems. Back in 2012(it feels so far away!) I wrote poems and immediately posted them here. I liked the adrenaline rush of getting my work out there- even cyber space is a *there*- a place that breathes, opines, and likes or dislikes what you do. The digital world is so real, don’t you think?

However, of late what I’m doing is letting my poems hibernate- that way when I look at them later I get a better perspective of what I did and how I’ve changed.

I’ve also tried pitching some of these poems to magazines where poetry is appreciated but one thing I haven’t really tried is sending them to friends or trusted persons who critique. Critique is not necessarily criticism. It isn’t about how bad or good you are, which is how books are being reviewed these days. The whole star rating system of books is problematic- suppose it is the genre you dislike, then do you give two stars to the genre?

Anyway, leaving all that aside since reviews matter to any writer, myself included, I’ve never really shown my poems to anyone besides you the reader of this blog and my family.

I found this picture interesting- most pictures of writers are solitary. If you do a google search on writing paintings, you’ll find a great amount of detail when it comes to writing tables, views from windows and feathery quill pens. This is an unusual sort of image that I can’t find the exact source for.

showing your writing

Turns out it is a good idea to get a second opinion or a third. There is this whole phenomenon of beta reading going on- so when you write a novel for instance, a beta reader or even several readers could give you a clue about what you need to do to get your story into readable form.

This may not work for everyone. I thought it best that the poems hibernate but after a while your poems and stories want to stretch their arms and wake up. They need attention the way little kids do.

Everything needs its springtime.

 

Incidentally I was reading this lovely volume of poetry called ‘Not Springtime yet’ by Priya Sarukkai Chabria. I’ll be talking about the book soon.

Are you comfortable showing your poems to people besides your family?

 

© neelthemuse, 2014

Check out my book Unsettled @ Amazon

 

 

 

 

 
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Posted by on March 13, 2014 in Day to day, Inspiration

 

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That long silence and reading Cleland’s Room of Thieves

It’s been a while since I posted. It has been almost three years now since this blog was conceptualized in a sudden impulsive mood. I just realized that!

Being off of the blog for a while reminded me of a poem I wrote in 2012 called Angry Young Blog.

There are times when the blog likes to be quiet as well. Blogs change like the people who write them. Last year I read and studied a lot of poetry. This year I’m delving into fiction a bit more.

In spite of that self- proclamatory fiction obsession, I couldn’t help  picking up this delightful book by Angela Cleland called Room of Thieves. It is a clever book full of sharp edges and a very original rendition.

room of thieves

Look at a small extract from this poem Frozen points

We are nasty, cubist, snagging on each others’

angles, grow more acute at every irritation.

The anger of trigonometry frustrated

is sharp in brows, is taut in bodies drawn with bows,

stings along the rims of eyes held open too long

between dry blinks….”

The book is filled with aggressive instances such as these crossing geographies from the Loch to as far away as Machu Pichu, There is an undercurrent of explosiveness that runs through this string of pearls. Cleland doesn’t shy away from using different forms either.

You can read some extracts here. Really inventive and fresh.

A prose poem I liked very much was Dusk:

The chair has no idea. That luxurious creak as I shift in it slowly, lay my head back and pen myself to the afternoon light. The air has no idea, drawing its cool scarf across my arched throat. The bird has no idea….”

and she goes on to a mesmerizing climax. Teaser enough for you?

I don’t think any one should worry about quietness at the blogs they write. It may mean many things- exploring new themes or removing the monotony of every day. A blog is like your second skin- it is strange that I write differently while I write my blog posts and am much much more hesitant to ‘be me’ at social media.

In fact writing this blog has changed the course of my life- I realized that I must invest more time with poetry.

How do you deal with quietness at your blog?

© neelthemuse, 2014

Check out my book Unsettled @ Amazon

 
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Posted by on February 25, 2014 in Books, Day to day, Inspiration

 

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