Friday, November 16, 2007

Photo prompt fiction

Joe’s girlfriend Dina took a picture of Joe in her father’s library one day. He wasn’t sure why she wanted him to stand with his arms crossed in front of her father’s library. There were lots of Greek and Roman books. Joe had read excerpts from ‘The Odyssey’ in high school. He liked Orwell, Burroughs, Ballard, people like that. Dina insisted he not smile in the photograph. She wanted him to look serious. A literary sort of guy. She stuck her fingers through the lacing on the front of his shirt and also through his hair. Dina really liked his hair. She told him about Samson and Delilah. Joe already knew about Samson and Delilah because his mother had been a devout Christian woman who had read the Bible to her older son until her husband left her. Everything changed afterwards. Dina’s mother thought Joe was ‘sweet’. Dina’s mother was much more beautiful and well-dressed than Joe’s mother, and she had a flatter accent.

Dina stepped away from him and took his picture. Later he found the picture distressing. He looked like an American Idol reject in his stupid shirt with his stupid hair. The books rose behind and above him like a vaguely potent symbol of… something.

The last time he saw Dina was the day before she left for a trip to Florence with her parents. She met someone literary, foreign and less boring there. There were two brief and straightforward phone calls, and that was it.

Three weeks later Joe was in a different city. There he met a girl. She worked in the Starbucks opposite the record store he worked in. He knew this because she was wearing a Starbucks work uniform, not because he had coffee there. Coffee gave him indigestion, plus he was new in the neighbourhood. Green was a perfect colour on her, and she had a few violet streaks in her shoulder-length hair. Taylor, who owned the record store, looked up at her with pure hatred in his eyes. It was the Starbucks uniform that had set him off. Joe had tried to explain to him before that being rude to prospective customers would do nothing to keep his flagging business in competition. The Starbucks girl shoved her very tiny hands into her pockets and peered at the vinyl on display. A boy no older than fifteen was browsing them, muttering and shaking his head. The boy was a friend of Joe’s younger brother from school. ‘Hey, Bren,’ said the Starbucks girl, in an unexpectedly raspy voice. The boy almost dropped the LP he was holding. ‘Uh,’ he said. ‘Uh.’ The Starbucks girl smiled, her hands still in her pockets. ‘Well, nice to see you.’

A few days later Joe and the Starbucks girl went on a date.

They saw a Wes Anderson movie and ate ice cream by the river. Joe was feeling peaceful. He was well and truly over Dina by now. It turned out that the Starbucks girl’s name was Mina. Joe was troubled by this fact, but chose not to let it show. Mina was a classic rock fan. He watched her pout prettily while she went on an extended rant about how much modern rock bands fucking sucked. Joe found it appropriate to mention that he thought Led Zeppelin was the best classic rock band. He did not add that he was no longer a fan of Led Zeppelin and had already given his entire collection, poster and t-shirt included, to his brother on his thirteenth birthday, who had actually jumped on to the bed and held him close in his chicken arms. Mina stared at Joe for a few seconds. She had a smear of ice cream on the corner of her mouth that Joe considered licking off but decided not to because that would be kind of corny. ‘Oh my God,’ she said. ‘Oh my God, I knew it, I knew it from your hair. Robert Plant has amazing hair.’ Joe blinked and tried to decide if this was an insult or a compliment or both.

They had sex and it wasn’t very good. Mina messed his hair up so that it covered his eyes and shut her own eyes tight. Then she sat up and smoked five cigarettes, craning her neck to look out the window of his apartment. ‘So,’ she said, finally looking at Joe. Joe wrapped one of the sheets around his waist and padded to the bathroom, where he found a porcelain soap dish. Silently he presented this to Mina. She looked at him through her hair. The violet streaks could not be seen in this light.

The next week he was in the record store arranging CDs in chronological order like Taylor wanted. Mina walked in again, but this time she was accompanied by another man. The man had long blond hair with corkscrew curls. His face was very unpleasant and he had enormous bags under his eyes. Mina talked to him and ignored Joe.

Joe went home after work and tried to read random issues of Wired before going into the tiny kitchen. He retrieved a jar of peanut butter and a spoon. He dug the spoon into the jar with a satisfying splotch. Then he started eating.

There was a small radio next to the kitchen window. He turned it on and rummaged in the drawers for a big pair of scissors. He wondered if he should finish eating the peanut butter first or cut all his hair off first. Joe walked into the bathroom with his scissors. He looked in the bathroom mirror. His hair looked limp and stupid. He could not remember why he had ever kept it that long. He wasn’t even a hippie.

He walked back to the kitchen. The radio was playing Led Zeppelin. It was the sort of thing that happened in movies and novels, but really it was just that the first station that always came up when he turned the radio was the classic rock station. Suddenly Joe was fourteen and chubby, watching TV in his bedroom, safe from the world. Robert Plant walked on the stage, wrists languid and chest glistening with sweat. He flipped his hair. He was bathed in golden light, most of it emanating from his body rather than from above. He was a god! And he knew it.

Equally suddenly Joe was adult again, and Robert Plant was wailing, don’t you hear, don’t you hear them falling, and Joe felt them, right on cue. He thought of Dina and he thought of Mina.

Then he sat down on the nearest chair and ate the rest of the peanut butter.


(better v v late than never, i daresay. i will try to upload the prompt photo sometime.)

Isheeta Basu Mallik

Monday, November 12, 2007

Let There Be Light.

Mukul Chakroborty stepped out of the cab and onto the sidewalk. It was unbearably hot. He turned the corner, fanning himself frantically with a newspaper and walked into Her. She was the stuff of dreams, nay, her beauty was beyond dreams even. This was who he had been waiting for all his life, this beautiful pilgrim of rarefied light. She was standing at the mouth of the Tunnel that led into the fish market and he had almost knocked into her.

He composed himself, this was big. “Breathe in, breathe out, relax, relax”, he muttered to himself. He reached out to tap Her on the shoulder when a large hammy hand clapped itself on his. “Arrey, hello hello Sirjee! How nice to meet you here! Buying fish, eh? Arrey hello Sevanti! You’re on time!” Mukul Babu shrank away from the strapping six foot tall young gentleman who towered above him and looked nervously at Her. She was smiling up at Arvind. He was appalled. “These girls, really, no brains at all, Arvind of all people! My God!” Arvind was the most gormless boy Mukul Babu had ever taught. Anyway, he was talking again. “Sirjee, this is Sevanti, my boss lady, model coordinator she is. I am doing modelling nowadays, you know?” He had not, in fact, known that. It made sense. “Oh, very good Arvind, you did rather well in sports, I remember. Much better than you did in Accounts.” The incredible hulk literally squirmed. “Oh never mind that, son, you’re doing well for yourself, I’m sure”. Arvind grinned sheepishly, reassured now that Sebanti would hear of no more embarrassing college stories. “Mukul Babu was my favourite teacher in college, Sevanti. Three years he taught me”. This was a blatant lie. Arvind had not attended many of Mukul Babu’s classes, only about one fourth. Half he spent punished outside class and the remaining fraction, he bunked. Mukul Babu could not quite see where this was going. “So Mukul Babu, I have come here for photo shoot. You have to come watch” , said Arvind and he dragged Mukul Babu into the dark labyrinth. Mukul Babu went sunblind for a few seconds before they stopped in front of a cleaned out fish stall. The raised concrete platform had been stripped clean of all piscine accoutrements, there were many men walking around looking busy, there were reflective sheets, neon lights and there was a photographer with a big camera. “Wow, impressive. Good work Arvind. Anyway, I must be off now”. “Heyy wait no, you can’t leave now, you have to watch everything! No, I insist”. With that Arvind jumped up on the exposed concrete slab and striking a heroic pose, took off his shirt. His face was lit up in the neon lights, bright red lips, glittering black eyes, beetling brows, the very picture of masculinity. Mukul Babu gaped. The photographer aimed and shot, aimed and shot. Somebody reached for a basket of fish and poured the glistening contents at Arvind’s feet. There were beautiful pools of light around Arvind’s head and feet, the rest shrouded in darkness. Arvind looked down at him and smiled, then the smile widened into a grin as he said, “Hello, Editor jee, why don’t you give Mukul Babu a chance to appear in your magazine? Hoist him up, let me take a few photos with him, you can use those too, no?” The editor seemed to think it was a good idea. “Oh My God! No! No! Please! I am old man!”, Mukul Babu’s pleas fell on deaf ears and several hands hoisted him up to the platform. Arvind gripped Mukul Babu and hoisted him up till they were equally high. It made for a strange but funny photo. The editor intended to use it, it would give his magazine the Human Touch without involving any breast cancer patients. Mukul Babu squeezed his eyes shut, he was truly sorry he had been so harsh on Arvind in college. He prayed for this humiliation to end. Next to his face, Arvind grinned. He’d been waiting for something like this to turn up for years.

Srinanda Ganguly.

A dialogue between a model and a proffessor, at a fishmarket.

Monday, November 05, 2007


The moon grew old and fat and bald. The astronaut pretended to sleep. The nurse tied him up securely, into a contraption of leather and metal that was only five weeks old.
‘Would you like some water now,’ said the nurse. His hand smoothed a corner of the sheet. He was a little embarrassed.
‘I am not your father,’ said the astronaut. His eyes were tiny glimmers in the dark.
‘That’s not the right answer.’
‘I’m not your father.’
The nurse poured some water into a cup. It was two in the morning. There were two chairs, both of which were nailed to the floor.
‘Are you going to kill me?’ said the astronaut, clenching his fists at his sides. His veins were like thin gnarled roots.
‘That’s not the right question.’
‘Jesus. Jesus.’
The nurse drank the water from the cup. He sat down on one chair, dragged his buttocks across the seat, crossed his legs, uncrossed them, stood up.
‘I just had something to tell you,’ said the nurse, and began to remove his shirt. His shirt was a deep red. He removed it slowly, almost sensually. The astronaut saw in the milky light how hairy the nurse was. The astronaut had stared down the void. This was not a void.
‘Jesus,’ said the astronaut. He didn’t believe in God.
The nurse turned.

* * *

The nurse was the fifth person to speak up. He spoke in a measured tone devoid of surface emotion. He seemed to be reciting the contents of a work of fiction written in a rather mannered style. This inspired some unease in the circle. In his clean white clothing and greyish white canvas shoes the nurse was more disturbing than a doctor.

‘I work in an old people’s home. Last Tuesday one of my charges, a Mr Hewett, reached eighty-five years of age. He celebrated by smearing icing all over his shirt and crying by the window. There was something cinematic and nightmarish about the way the little party disintegrated into a parody of a funeral. The single baroque candle on the cake seemed like a cruel joke. Mrs Doherty, another of my charges, started rocking on her feet, letting out choked sobs. Lizzie, a fellow nurse, put her guitar down and went to comfort her. Mr Hewett curled up against the windowsill and refused to move. He has two sons and a daughter, all of whom are employed adults living in this country.’

The rest of the group froze unanimously to digest this. The nurse added as an afterthought, ‘I have violent urges sometimes.’

A woman swathed in a pink cashmere sweater reached out towards the nurse. The nurse’s arm was cool and hard under her soft palm. ‘Thank you, dear, for sharing that.’

The sixth person to speak up said, ‘I like to break into my neighbour’s beach house on summer evenings and lie naked on his roof under the stars. On such evenings I am an astronaut, suspended in the amniotic silence of space, connected by a fragile umbilical cord that technology birthed through the miracle of science.’

The nurse inspected the crescent spaces under his fingernails. The rest of the group failed to notice that they were dashed with blood and dirt.

‘So many of us wanted to be something, when we were children,’ said the woman in the pink sweater. I wanted to be a firefighter. My husband wanted to be the emperor. Of China.’ She laughed, quivering candyfloss and braces.

‘You don’t understand,’ said the sixth person. He was now looking at the nurse. The nurse was not looking at him. ‘You don’t understand at all. I am an astronaut.’

* * *

The nurse was walking back to his flat. He had had a hard day at work. He walked down what some would call a working-class neighbourhood.

Suddenly a spaceship landed. It was round, with many fiddly bits, and emitted lights that reminded the nurse of the lighting at a rave party when he had been seventeen. A neon girl had placed a pill on his tongue. She had been struck red by the lights. He, too, had been struck. And transformed.

The spaceship flicked open. A being came out that was probably not a human. The nurse thought that it was dressed like an astronaut. The nurse burrowed his hands into the pockets of his hoodie. If he actually stopped to think about it, the being was an astronaut.

The alien astronaut was short and had tentacles. It did something to the nurse’s brain and climbed back into the spaceship. The spaceship lifted off into the night. Soon it was no bigger than the full moon.

The nurse blinked. In his brain there was only one thought left.

He thought out loud.

Rosie Harding's cold cream jars full of family teeth.


(my dialogue assignment character picks were 'male nurse' and 'astronaut')

Isheeta Basu Mallik

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Photo Assignment, edited.

Pinkerton At Sea

Pinkerton stood silhouetted against the horizon his guitar held aloft as he waited for the sun to set. The sun set. A few miles along the beach couples sighed and hugged and walked back home. Pinkerton, he threw his guitar into the sea, far out as far as he could go and swam in after it. The water was cool and there was a rope between the two. Pinkerton and Lilley. Pinkerton swam through the breakers to the relatively calm sea beyond. Lilley towed along behind him. He waited for Lilley to catch up. Lilley was important, more important than it had ever been. Inside Lilley's hollow interior were a pair of waterproof shorts, a set of guitar strings wrapped in oilcloth, many packets of crackers and two cubes of cheese. Also, a periscope, a telescope, a stethescope and spectacles. Not to mention, a flute. With this happy cargo Pinkerton set off across the sea to go as far as he could or die trying. He was aiming for Burma but his geography was rather unsound. For all he knew he would land up in New Zealand or back in the Sunderbans.

Pinkerton swam on, breaking away into a float when his arms tired. Once in a while he saw lights out on the sea. He looked back and could'nt see the shore. Something hard nudged his shoulder and moved away. In the dark he saw a big bullet shaped head with a bullet shaped snout swimming along next to him. "Awrk?", said the thing. "You a dolphin? Orca?", said our man Pinkerton. "Awrk." said the orcaella brevirostris. "Awrk." replied Pinkerton. The dolphin re submerged and emerged some way off. Pinkerton decided to follow it. The dolphin wove through the water joined at intervals by another dolphin or two until the numbers swelled to a dozen or so all singing the high haunting song that pulled Pinkerton on and on until with the hot noonday sun he found himself waking on an alien beach being stared at by little brown children. He got up, pulled Lilley out of the water where it had been bobbing gently on the waves put on the waterproof shorts inaugurated a pack of crackers and gave the rest to the children. A song played in his ears, a high haunting song disjointed. A song that grew so loud that it drowned the chattering monkeys that crowded around him, the waves that broke at his feet. So Pinkerton pulled out his flute and played for the sea.

Pinkerton In The Desert

Pinkerton flopped down on the sand. Lilley wanted to rest. The damned chap was'nt cutting it anymore. He feared Lilley would have to fend for himself soon. Pinkerton had a new friend now. Her name was Cocoxatpetl and she was a multicoloured beach umbrella. Pinkerton sat and admired the sunlight as it filtered through her multicoloured panels. Lilley was jealous, Pinkerton was certain of that. He decided to give Lilley away to the next person who went by. Nobody came by but Pinkerton had to go his own way so he played a last song for Lilley and left with Coco and the flute. Lilley lay abandoned. Many centuries later a little boy will find Lilley and wonder what sort of a beast this was but that comes many centuries later. The vultures circled overhead, dizzied by the sudden splash of colour that wound around the sand dunes. Well, if it moved it had to be edible. A vulture came and rested on Coco's blue panel, it bobbed along with Coco and Pinkerton. He cawed to his mates up in the sky, this was fun. Another vulture came. Then another. Soon there were about fifteen vultures perched on Coco. Pinkerton felt the weight, the light also dimmed around him. There were patches on Coco, he missed Lilley. He threw Coco away and flung himself down on the sand. He lay there until the heat got too intense to bear then he decided to dig his way to China. He said goodbye to Coco and the flute and dove into the sand. He dug and dug and dug until he came to the moist earth beneath the sand, whereupon he sucked a handfull of earth dry of moisture and resumed digging. On his way he met many subterranean creatures. A minotaur called Larry, who he met as he tunnelled through part of a maze in Corfu, a large colony of fighter ants somewhere else, all friends he would remember fondly on winter evenings by the fireside. I dont know if he reached China or if in the time honoured tradition of Pinkerton he wandered off elsewhere but the last time I saw him was through the bottom of my glass bottomed boat as he dug his way out of the seabed in Malaysia. So long Pinkerton, I yelled out to him as he surfaced. He waved and he kept waving until we were just specks in the vast open sea.

Srinanda Ganguly.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

the colour exercise...chocolate

It had been raining ever since she could remember. Leslie leaned over the sill of the curtainless window and watched the dismal drops drench the narrow alley she would eternally reign over. The ground was covered with the tantalisingly brown, gooey allure of mud--it looked so tempting, just like the molten chocolate which would be sold in that shop with those alarmingly large windows. She remembered the stinging coldness of the glass as she would press her snub little nose against the pane, staring inside with an eager earnestness which made her eyes and mouth water. How very cruel of them to pour a divine delight like that into such narrow, harsh glasses---did not the chocolate feel as numb as her nose felt? How she longed to warm it, to let it trickle through her lips, to tingle her tongue. Once she was caught licking the painfully clean glass windows, and the shop-owner made sure he put an end to her daily, (rather hourly) pilgrimages. Well, she said to herself-she wouldn't have to witness the restriction of her beloved chocolate anymore. Here her own alley was inundated with a munificent deluge of the stuff...oh, she pined to go out and taste it! But would it suit the dignity of a stately queen of the alley to do so? Not in HER dreams.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

caferati Listings 12: Crossposted

Caferati Listings 12

A Delhi Press magazine wants freelance writers

Delhi Press, India's largest magazine publishing house, is seeking freelance writers for a new fortnightly magazine to be launched in January.

The magazine, Caravan, will be modelled after magazines like The New Republic and The New Yorker—a text-heavy magazine dedicated to high-caliber, long-form journalism. Caravan's primary focus will be on domestic and international politics and social issues, with secondary emphasis on topics such as arts and culture, travel, sports, science and technology, environment, education and business. Any story idea is on the table, provided it would be of interest and importance to to a socially-conscious, intellectually-curious Indian reader.

Caravan also has at least one opening for a fulltime editor.

For any questions or information, contact associate editor Ben Frumin at ben DOT frumin AT delhipress DOT in or bfrumin AT gmail DOT com.

The Shakti Bhatt First Book Prize - an update

An update of the listing in Edition 10. The complete listing is:

The Shakti Bhatt First Book Prize is a cash award of one lakh rupees.
A 3-member panel of judges will shortlist entries. The 2008 panel of judges includes William Dalrymple and Kamila Shamsie.
We invite entries in the following genres: poetry, fiction, creative non-fiction (travel writing, autobiography, biography, and narrative journalism) and drama.

Open to first-time authors of all ages.
The book must be published between June 1, 2007 and June 30, 2008.
Only books published in India are eligible.
Publications must be in English or translated into English from an Indian language.
Vanity press publications are ineligible.
Deadline for entries is July 15, 2008.

Jeet Thayil will be happy to answer specific questions. Please email jeet DOT thayil AT gmail DOT com. Or leave a query, with your email address, here .

Undercover Utopia invites submissions

From an email:

We have launched our imprint Undercover Utopia. The first book, November Rain, came out last month. The next one is due out next month.

As on 15th September we have opened our doors to new submissions. The website is Look for the submission tab while browsing around, or head for sitemap. We are offering some of the best terms to writers in India, though we are looking for writers from around the world. Two US writers have already submitted their complete illustrated children's books to us, and we have already signed on one Caferati member as our next novelist. His book will be out in December this year. We don't ask our writers to organize/spend on their book launches unlike all other Indian publishers. We are accepting submissions in any genre but the book has to be a novel—no short stories—a novel with a very strong plot.

Submitted by Abhigyan Jha of Undercover Utopia.

Platform magazine wants a features writer.

Platform is looking for a Features Writer interested in the creative arts for feature-based columns. Those interested please contact us at info AT platform-mag DOT com and/or ssiganporia AT gmail DOT com.

Hat tip: Danish Husain

Got a dog story?

Excerpted from an email

I am now compiling a database of real-life incidents in which Pariah/Pariah-mix dogs have proved to be good watchdogs. The data will be used by canine behaviour consultant Shirin Merchant, the WSD adoption programme and the Indian Pariah Dog Club. It will also be available online for public reference.

If you know of any street dogs/building compound dogs/pet Pariah/pet Pariah-mix dogs who have prevented burglaries and other crimes, please mail the story to wsdindia AT gmail DOT com with a copy to rajashree DOT khalap AT If you did not personally witness the event, the story must be from a reliable and named source. Please mention at least an appoximate date, the location where it occurred, and whatever information you have about the dog (age / gender / description / etc).

The Welfare Of Stray Dogs(WSD) Tel: +91 22 23733433. E:mail: wsd AT wsdindia DOT org or wsdindia AT gmail DOT com

Hat-tip: Priya Pathiyan.

State Times wants writers

A new English daily newspaper, State Times, is looking for part-time or full-time writers, news associates, investigative journalists, etcetera. Please write to editor DOT kumar AT gmail DOT com

Submitted by Ajay Kumar via the Caferati forum.

Citizens For Peace wants submissions for its Peace Tree

2nd October is no longer just an important date on the Indian calendar. It is now the day on which people across the globe will observe the United Nations Day of Non-Violence.

On this special day, Citizens for Peace, in partnership with Times of India, is planning a Peace Mela - an evening dedicated to creative expressions of the striving for peace through music, song, poetry, dance, drama, films and more. The Peace Mela will be held in Mumbai (at the Horniman Circle/Asiatic Library space ) on the evening of 2nd October. It will be a five hour long gathering of well-known performing artists as well as unknown young talent.

You are invited to participate, with poems, prose pieces, posters, photographs etc., all on the theme of peace. The Horniman Garden area will be used to display poems, photographs and prose pieces that people have sent in.
Poems: Max 150 words
Prose pieces: Max 250 words
Photographs (prints): A3 or A4 sizes
Entries to be sent by either email or post.
By email to: meghann AT mdiworld DOT com.
By courier/post to: EMDI, IES Management College, 4th Floor, Opposite Lilavati Hospital, Bandra Reclamation, Mumbai 4000 50. Ph: 26550808/26427171
Please keep copies of whatever you send. Entries will not be returned.
The last date for sending in the entries is 28th Sept.

Reminders from past issues

- The international music magazine we mentioned in Edition 11 is still open to pitches from writers
- Siyahi is still acepting submissions (Edition 11)
- The Times / Chicken House Children's Fiction deadline is 17th November (Edition 11)
- NaNoWriMo (Edition 11) sign-ups start 1st October and stay open until the end of the month
- If you have a book coming out up to 30th June next year, remember The Shakti Bhatt First Book Prize (Edition 10)
- Osians may still be looking for authors to represent (Edition 10).
- Pinstorm is still open to writer CVs (Edition 10)
- The TFA Creative Writing Awards (Edition 9) deadline is 20th October 2007.
- IFC-FT Essay Competition 2007 (Edition 8) deadline is close! 30th September 2007.
- Every Tuesday (Edition 8) is still open to story ideas.
- The Scian SciFi Short Story contest (Edition 6) deadline is around the corner! 30th September 2007.

Joy and jello,

Annie Zaidi, Manisha Lakhe, Peter Griffin

for Caferati

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Caferati Listings 11

Crossposted from Caferati Listings

A slightly longer gap this time. Apologies. We've been a bit tied up with work, deadlines and, not least, getting Caferati's First Annual Celebrating Shakti Bhatt Workshop going. (And if you're in Delhi on the 30th September, do join us. Details at the link.)

Can you write about music?

This came in via email:

An international music magazine is looking for writers, contributors and photographers for its India/South Asia edition. Besides definitive, edgy, incisive writing on music and musicians, which forms the core, the magazine will also cover national affairs (features, profiles), technology, trends, fashion, books and movies. This is a heads-up for prospective writers/contributors in all metros and the Northeast. There will be a web edition as well, and this message is also a heads-up for that crew. If you're interested, please email sudeep dot chakravarti at gmail dot com with your interest and specs. Peace.

Submitted by Sudeep Chakravarti.

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The Times / Chicken House Children's Fiction Competition

An excerpt from the web page:

Have you a manuscript hidden at the back of the wardrobe? Have you been scribbling in a shed at the bottom of the garden? Have you been making up brilliant bedtime stories? Now's your chance to see your name on the cover of a book!
The Times and Chicken House are launching a competition to find a great undiscovered children's writer. Our judges will choose one winner, whose novel will be published by Chicken House.

Your submissions must be full-length manuscript in English, of no more than 80,000 words accompanied by a brief synopsis, plot-plan and a letter of submission explaining the book's appeal to children . No picture books and graphic novels.
Note the eligibility criteria:

You must not have published a book in any form, in any country, whether fiction or non-fiction. In this case a "book" refers to a printed work of which you are the author. If your work has only appeared in newspapers, magazines, story or essay collections, or in electronic format (ie online) then you are eligible to enter.
The Prize
An offer of a worldwide publishing contract with Chicken House, which shall be subject to negotiation and completion between Chicken House and the winner.
Entries must be by post (email submissions will be rejected) to The Times, 1 Pennington Street, London E98 1TT marked Chicken House Children's Fiction Competition.
Deadline: Saturday 17th November 2007
Complete Terms and conditions and Submission Guidelines here. Make sure to read them.
More about the contest here .

Hat-tip, Christina Daniels.

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Siyahi wants authors, poets, researchers, translators

A note from Siyahi:

Siyahi, a Literary Consultancy, is working for promoting and managing creativity and taking the Indian word, to the world. We are forum for authors, poets, researchers, translators and publishers to evolve and expand the scope for Indian literature. We bring to publishers, the talent they are looking for. We are working with all genres and with all languages, with publishers in India and abroad. For submissions please contact mitakapur at siyahi dot in.

Submitted by Mita Kapur, who is, among other things, a long-time Caferati member, co-coordinator of our Jaipur chapter , and good friend. Good luck with this, Mita.

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Translators wanted for an anthology of Dalit poetry.

Dr. K. Purushotham, Associate Professor of English, Kakatiya University, is bringing out an anthology of Dalit poetry.

I am planning to bring out an anthology of Dalit Poetry in English translation from different languages of India. This task cannot be accomplished without the cooperation of the translators from other languages. Therefore, I have planned to bring out the proposed anthology by associating an editor for each of the languages. Those interested in translating and/or editing the Dalit poems from their languages to English are requested to associate with this project.
He is looking for people to translate from all the major Indian languages—except Telugu—into English. If you're interested, please write to Dr P at purushotham_ku at hotmail dot com.

Information from this post on blogbharti.

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Come November, it's NaNoWriMo

Hm. We don't know whether this quite fits into Caferati Listings, seeing as y'all are seriously talented, writers who sweat over their craft, and the NaNoWriMo web page says, "Let's write laughably awful yet lengthy prose together." But what the heck, if it gets you to take the finger out and start writing, it's a good thing.
NaNoWriMo (short for National Novel Writing Month) gets people to register, and then spend the month of November hammering out a 50,000 word novel. From 21 participants in 1999, NaNoWrMo has grown hugely popular; there were 79,000 participants last year, and nearly 13,000 of them actually finished their 50,000 words. To quote the site: "They started the month as auto mechanics, out-of-work actors, and middle school English teachers. They walked away novelists."
Please note that there is no prize or publishing contract offered. All who finish the 50k will be "added to our hallowed Winner's Page, and receive a handsome winner's certificate and web icon." And while it must be noted that their FAQ page lists 14 published novels that started out at NaNoWriMo, it is also pertinent that that number is out of some 35,000 winners over the years.
Sign-ups begin 1st October, 2007, and the writing begins November 1.
What it's all about here.
How it works here.
Frequently Asked Questions.

Hat-tip: Vineeta Malkani.

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Reminders from past issues

- If you have a book coming out up to 30th June next year, remember The Shakti Bhatt First Book Prize ( Edition 10)
- Osians may still be looking for authors to represent (Edition 10 ).
- Pinstorm is still open to writer CVs (Edition 10)
- The TFA Creative Writing Awards (Edition 9) deadline is 20th October 2007.
- IFC-FT Essay Competition 2007 (Edition 8 ) deadline is 30th September 2007.
- Every Tuesday (Edition 8 ) is still open to story ideas.
- The Scian SciFi Short Story contest (Edition 6 ) deadline is 30th September 2007.

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Feedback welcome at caferati at gmail dot com. This newsletter depends hevily on your suggestions and submissions. Please do keep them coming in. Details are at /Caferati-Listings/web/FAQs

We'd especially like to know if you have applied for or entered any of the stuff that has appeared in Caferati Listings. And of course, if you have got a job, got published, won something or generally improved your life in some way, puhleeze tell us. Such knowledge helps us get through the long, lonely winter nights.

Luck, love, and lozenges to you,

Annie Zaidi, Manisha Lakhe, Peter Griffin

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Caferati Announcements

Crossposted from Caferati Listings

Edition 9

1. A new book prize

2. A new literary agency

3. An internet marketing solutions company wants copywriters

4. A news portal wants an Associate Editor in Bombay

5. Reminders

1. The Shakti Bhatt First Book prize

The Shakti Bhatt Foundation and the British Council invite entries in the following genres for the inaugural prize: poetry, fiction, creative non-fiction (travel writing, autobiography and narrative journalism) and drama.

The Shakti Bhatt First Book Prize is a cash award of one lakh rupees. A 3-member panel of judges will shortlist 6 books published between 1 June 2007 and 30 June 2008. Only books published in India are eligible. Publications must be in English or translated into English from an Indian language.

The Shakti Bhatt Foundation is a non-profit trust.

or more information please contact:

From Rwituja Mookherjee of the British Council

2. Osian's launches a literary agency

Osian's Literary Agency is always looking for high quality works of fiction and general non-fiction (biography/memoir, narrative travel writing, current affairs and contemporary issues), and represents authors for the sale of rights to their work in India and all major overseas markets, including the UK, US and Europe. The focus is on writers based in, originating from or writing about, the Indian subcontinent; India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Nepal and Sri Lanka.

For more information on the agency, how to submit your work etc, email, or log onto our website

From Kavita Bhanot of Osian's Literary Agency

3. Pinstorm wants copywriters

From Pinstorm's Creative Director

Richard Clayderman, John Lord, Louis Banks, Ray Manzarek - Now if only their Keyboards generated Prose…

Adept in grammar, ability to develop interest in a wide range of products/services and communicate effusively about them, plenty of surfing experience, the yen to prove your marketplace effectiveness as a Copywriter by following the Response statistics, interest in drafting text messages within a tight format, the versatility to write landing-page copy which is persuasive without being formulaic, enthusiasm for creating tiny Flash-sequences that are catchy and promote a brand - perhaps all of this with a couple of years' experience as well.

We must either think this is our lucky day or that this place is El Dorado!! One thing's for sure - Pinstorm Technologies is the fastest growing Internet marketing solutions Co. in Asia (as accoladed by Red Herring Magazine in its Top Picks). ESOP for us is not something to do with fables only - exercise your option here to translate your words into wallet-fillers!

Spell-check your mail before sending it to

Contact: Brian D'souza, Human Resources, , 26480520 / 2648853More about Pinstorm at

4. A news portal want an Associate Editor

Associate Editor based in Bombay office of a global news portal focused on environment and engineering. The candidate should have minimum three years experience reporting, editing under deadline, preferably in daily newspapers. Knowledge of science and engineering is preferred. Should have sound editing skills and ability to fact-check, report and develop copy based on raw information. Interested candidates may email resume and clips to

The interview will be conducted Sept. 7, 8 and 9 in Mumbai. Information courtesy Anita Vasudeva.

5. Reminders

1. The TFA Creative Writing Awards ( Caferati Listings Edition 9) deadline is 20 October 2007.

2. Submissions to Chicken Soup for the Indian Soul series ( Edition 9) close on 15th September.

3. IFC-FT Essay Competition 2007 ( Edition 8) deadline is September 30th.

4. Every Tuesday ( Edition 8) is still open to story ideas.

5. The Scian SciFi short story contest ( Edition 6) deadline is September 30th.

Caferati Blog, Forum
Our other newsletters and local newsgroups

Caferati Updates, Caferati-Contests

Active City Chapters: Ahmedabad, Bombay, Bangalore, Calcutta, Delhi , Dubai, Hyderabad, Jaipur, Kanpur, Lahore, Lucknow, Madras, Nagpur, Pune, Singapore.

Works in Progress: Boston , Goa, Indore, Jodhpur, London, San Francisco Bay Area.

Annie Zaidi, Manisha Lakhe, Peter Griffin

Edition 8

1. Creative writing awards - call for entries

2. "Chicken Soup" stories wanted

3. A few reminders from past Listings editions

1. Toto Funds the Arts Creative Writing Awards 2008 - Call for Entries

Toto Funds the Arts (TFA) invites entries for its third annual awards for young Indian writers in English. Two cash awards of Rs. 25,000 each will be given in January 2008.

BUT: If you are less than 18 and older than 30 on 1 January 2008, or live outside India, read no further!

ALSO: The spirit of the Toto Awards is to identify promise and encourage young talent. Therefore, do not submit an entry if you are already an established writer.

TFA is looking for entries in a variety of genres -- the novel, short stories, play scripts and poetry. The submissions should ideally be not more than 10,000 words. Pieces of short fiction; an extract from a novel or play script; or between five and ten poems are recommended norms. Sensible combinations of the above are acceptable within the word limit.

Deadline: 20 October 2007.

Entries should be sent in soft e-mail copy to as well as in hard copy form to:

Toto Funds the Arts (TFA)

H 301 Adarsh Gardens

8th Block, 47th Cross


Bangalore 560 082

Phone: 080-26548139

The fine print

Entries must be accompanied by a signed statement confirming the applicant's date of birth, whether the applicant's work has been published in print (give details), and also affirming that the submitted work is original.

Submitted material will not be returned.

The decision of the TFA jury is final and cannot be contested in any forum.

Toto Funds the Arts (TFA) is a not-for-profit public trust set up in memory of Angirus 'Toto' Vellani, who was intensely passionate about music, literature and films.

Information courtesy Arundhati Ghosh

2. "Chicken Soup" stories wanted

You've heard of, if not read, the Chicken Soup for the Soul series. Well, there's now going to be a series for the Indian Soul. The following (edited) from an email:

Chicken Soup is essentially a compilation series of hundreds of heart-felt stories of real-life experiences about love, courage, awareness and awe that has touched the minds and souls of millions of readers.

I am currently compiling individual experiences for the 'Chicken Soup for the Indian soul' series for Westland publishing house. The book will carry the brand name of Chicken soup and the publishing house believes it will surely be a success.

I welcome experiences.

Here is the format:

It could be on any person / event / incident which made an impact on you. This impact could be a change in the way you thought or lived, or improved performance, or in making you a better person, more more courageous, persistent, optimistic or positive, or it may have broadened your horizons. If you think it is worth speaking about, I am willing to listen.

The instances could be specific or general.

Some broad topics:

Love - It could be love between you and your spouse, parents, children, friends, strangers you met and connected with. Or an episode of love you have witnessed.

Understanding love

Learning to love yourself


Overcoming obstacles - stories on how you persisted with something
Someone who made you believe in yourself - how, what specific things did s/he say or not say.

Giving without expectations


These are just starters. The subject could be anything; as long as the story puts a smile in the readers heart.

Note: The story should be in first person, with the contributor's name at the end.

Contributions can be between 500 and 1500 words.

Deadline: 15th September

Submit to: with a cc to

Submitted by Raksha Bharadia, author of Me - A handbook for Life (Rupa & Co) and Roots and Wings - A handbook for parents (Rupa & Co).

3. Reminders

1. IFC-FT Essay Competition 2007 deadline September 30th.

2. Every Tuesday is still open to story ideas.

3. The Scian SciFi short story contest deadline is September 30th.

Annie Zaidi, Manisha Lakhe, Peter Griffin

1. IFC-FT Essay Competition 2007

The International Finance Corporation and the Financial Times invite entries to their annual essay contest about the role of the private sector in international development. The top prize is a US$20,000 cash award, and winning essays will be published on the IFC and FT web sites.

Entries will be accepted until September 30, 2007.

Application details; prize essays from previous year:

Information courtesy Mayank Rungta.


2. Junior and mid-level correspondents

Reproduced from an email:

I am looking to recruit junior and mid-level correspondents (on a full time basis) at Magna's Bangalore bureau. The profile of work will involve writing stories for mainly Society, Savvy, Society Interiors and Savvy cook book and for Magna 5 other magazines - Stardust, Showtime, Health N Nutrition, Savvy fashion and glamour and Society World of Luxury, as and when the need arises. You can get a lowdown on all the magazines and their contents at

If you know of anyone looking for a change, please have them write me at

My contact details are below.

Anupama Bijur

Bureau Chief,

Magna Publishing Co Ltd,

1107, Barton Centre, MG Road,

Bangalore 560001

Ph; +91 80 25599646 /7/8, 25594604

Mob: + 91 98441 24290

Info forwarded by Manoj Vijayan of Marketing Edge Designs<>


And this one's from Menka Shivdasani:

3. Looking for writers for a new arts and culture weekly

If writing about arts and culture is your forte, here's an interesting opportunity. Ace Publications is launching a weekly called Every Tuesday in mid-August, focusing on art, cinema, theatre, dance, literature and everything related to Indian culture. Mr Shashi Vyas, director of Pancham Nishad Creatives Pvt Ltd, one of the largest organizers of classical music concerts in the country, is the publisher, and the entire content has been outsourced to my company, The Source <>.If you are interested in doing in-depth interviews and features, write to Menka Shivdasani at everytuesday with your ideas.

Annie Zaidi, Manisha Lakhe, Peter Griffin

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Welcome 2007!

A warm (if somewhat belated) welcome to our new members, some of whom got sent invites to WIP today. WIP classes are in full swing, and we have learned numerous interesting things about each other. At least two of us for instance, are several thousand years old, and one is the sole possessor of the key to an ancient language, while another is a Tibetan princess, incognito.

Character sketches have been done, and one collective effort went like this.

A girl, let's call her Buchki, is the child of Jatra-playing parents and travels with them all over Bengal, hidning backstage to watch the performances when she's supposed to be in bed. Buchki's hero is a young boy who plays female roles, (since women do not act in the Jatra; Buchki's mother cooks, makes costumes and plays the dhol): she wants to grow up to be just like him. But he doesn't want to grow up, beause when he does, he won't be able to play women any more. So Buchki thinks up a plot to save him: she secretly takes his place.

Regarding WIPLash, do not despair. I am having to revert to original plan and shell out, provided the editors buck up and give me the disk (Hello? Wiz?). A thousand apologies that it has taken so long: we will do our utmost to make sure it reaches you when it gets out, so 2006 batch please mail me your addresses if you are now out of town.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Telegraph on ASU visit

Here is Romila's article on Melissa Pritchard and the ASU students who visited JU a few months back.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Next crop ready to be planted

I hear that 20 of you from UG3 signed up for this course. Have you read the guidelines on this blog? I mean, do you realise your writing hand is going to shrivel up and fall off at the end of it? ask the people who've done it all ready. Seriously, there will be a lot of writing (and not so much reading) in this course, and people who think it'll be an easy ride often can't keep up. Consider your options carefully.
Havign said that, the PG2s are welcome to sign up. I know their courses haven't been advertised yet, but that's coz we currently don't have a PG1, and we want them to have a bite at the apple as well. Here, however, PG1 doesn't come into the equation, so if they like PG2 can sign up for WIP now, or at the beginning of the next sem with the rest of the courses.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Beleaguered WIP Book: SOS!

Firstly, my apoplogies for the delay in publishing the WIP book. May I assure you this is not due to lack of diligence on the part of the editors. We have in fact finished editing it and are doing the layout. However, we are stumped for lack of money. As I mentioned a while ago, we had been given a grant by the UPE fund for students. However, this was withdrawn without explanation. We are now looking for sponsors. Eight and a half thousand rupees will produce a very basic book, but we would like to make it a little nicer than last time, with illustrations and better lamination. so we will need something like 15 thousand. With the CAS grant to the department ending, there's no hope of money from that quarter. It looks like all avenues are closed except for private sponsorship. Any ideas?

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Sampurna Chattarji and Sharmistha Mohanty

These two young writers read from their work here on Monday 19 March 2007 (yesterday). Audience was unfortunately thin since there were meetings re Nandigram and other issues going on at the same time. Nevertheless Sharmistha read from her new book New Life (Roli) and Sampurna from her book of poems, Sight May Strike You Blind (Sahitya Akademi). Both were very good, especially the latter.

In other news, we now have all the material for WIPLash. Our editors have been a bit distracted by recent events (as have we all) but things should be settled by the end of the week, so work will restart. As you know, we're not getting funding from the University, so any ideas you may have for sponsorship will be welcome. Please get in touch with the editors with them, or with me.

Friday, February 09, 2007

All right, let's be having you

Who wrote the story where the ragpicker turns out to be Shiva (Bhooter Raja, I think)
Also the Great Haraldo had a story I marked WIP which I now can't remember. Send!!!!! And all the rest of you too!

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Christopher Merrill

We had a visit from Professor Christopher Merrill on Friday.

Chris Merrill runs America's coolest writing programme, the International Writing Program at the University of Iowa. He writes poetry and non-fiction, and he's written on soccer, the Balkan wars, and secretive Eastern orthodox monasteries.

On Friday, he spoke about his life as a writer, including how it felt to be stuck in a basement in Croatia being blitzed by the Serbs, and what to do if you're targeted by a sniper while on the way to a film festival. He also told us that according to the Serbs, the only unbiased journalists in the country were Indians(!) He reminisced about his friend Agha Shahid Ali, the Kashmiri poet who (among other things) introduced the proper ghazal to America.

Chris's talk was followed by a lively interactive session. At the end of the session, Gautam Datta, an engineer based in New Jersey, read a poem in Bangla and his translation of one of Chris's English pieces.

Friday, February 02, 2007

Way-hay! We have mun-nay!

We have been granted funding by the Seed Money fund to publish WIPlash. Everyone who hasn't yet sent me their stuff DO SO NOW. This includes anything I may have marked as suitable for WIP. Email of soft copy is best. If you don't have a comp, give it to me to be typeset. We will return pieces to be edited if they need polishing, or we may edit ourselves in consultation with authors. We are looking at about 80 pages of text and 20 of illustration. Deadline for texts is Feb 20th. NO EXTENSION!

we're also looking for illustrators for the stories and a cover designer. cover will be monochrome, can be grayscale. Apply to Teleute or Wiz of Az or comment this post.

A reminder: Caferati deadline on 4th

Cross posted from

Caferati runs contests for writers directly, and in collaboration with other organisations. This page gives you updates on the latest. (You could also subscribe to our Contests newsletter to get alerts in your inbox.)

Writing contests at the Kala Ghoda Arts Festival 2007

We are managing four contests for the Literature and Writing section of the Kala Ghoda Arts Festival 2007.

Go straight through to the individual contest pages for details.

SMS Poetry — 160-character poetry — About | Submit
Flash Fiction — very short stories — About | Submit
Graphic Flash — very short stories, told with visuals — About | Submit
Poetry Slam — performance poetry, live and head-to-head — About | Submit
All these contests are open to anyone, anywhere. However, the Poetry Slam is a live event at the Festival, so it’s a bit pointless to submit if you live elsewhere, unless you are prepared to travel to Kala Ghoda for the event at your own expense, if you are selected.

The deadline for all of them is midnight, IST, 4th February, 2007.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

WriterSpeak: ASU-JU students of creative writing share thoughts

The audio-visual room of the Jadavpur University's English department had a buzz of creative energy around it on the 11th of this month. The reason? Well it was a day that creative writers across two countries were meeting and sharing their innermost self-doubts and queries about the art, craft, poetics and politics of taking up the pen (or the keyboard as in most cases these days) for creative purposes. At this rare collection of creative minds were present the well-known American novelist and professor of creative writing – Melissa Pritchard – along with five of her MFA students from Arizona State University, and a room-full of eager JU students of English – all aspiring to greater creative output. Moderating for the event was Rimi B. Chatterjee – a young lecturer of the English Department and a published author of creative fiction in her own right. Kalam: Margins Write was the point of connection between the two

Although the interaction began with usual nervousness of such first meetings, the sheer warmth of both parties involved broke the ice. The students of ASU introduced themselves with humour and candor. There was the rather reticent Darcy, who was honest about her own doubts as an aspiring writer in the initial stages of coming to understand one’s creativity at one’s own pace, as well as her discomfort with the mushrooming of writing workshops, which in her opinion are not always the best thing to participate in. Such workshops could be harmful in two ways – one was that since such workshops involve extensive reading of works just produced so they are open to scathing criticism which could destroy the fragile confidence of the writer who is starting out with her raw, unedited work. Rimi di echoed her views as she also identified with the fear of showing raw, unedited work in the early stages of being a writer. She specified that if she were offered a course like WIP in her college, then most probably she would not have taken it up, which is why she never pushes students to take the course if they have any doubt in their mind.

The second danger, which all the ASU writers and Melissa pointed out in unison, was that of “getting addicted” to these ubiquitous workshops resulting in the loss of one’s own individual voice in the mélange of voices. Although the workshops helped the author with useful critique by a selected peer group, Melissa also brought to attention that “at some time you have to face the page alone”. For this it is essential to find one’s own voice – for which it is imperative to spend a lot of time on your own, maybe traveling or just thinking while looking through the windows of a café.

Melissa was emphatic in her stress on finding one’s voice. The anxiety of influence of the writers we admire and feel inadequate to, has a solution to it. She said that the best way to read authors that you admire is to “learn from them, try to unpack the writer’s work so as to find out what it is exactly you like about the author – read like a taxonomist! You can’t let yourself silence yourself.” Michael, another perceptive student of ASU also reiterated the point by saying that maybe one cannot write exactly like the writer one admires so much but one can find out the reason for that admiration and put it to good use. It’s actually the spirit with which the Bronte represents her times in Wuthering Heights that one admires, so maybe one day the aspiring author could engage with her times in a similar spirited way instead of getting intimidated by the author.

Subhodeep Paul, a final-year MPhil student of Jadavpur University and an aspiring poet and novelist, raised some interesting questions. He spoke about the dual roles of the academic and writer that writers in India usually have to face (this reaffirmed by Rimi di's hilarious comment that “writers have to survive in India hiding deep under the cover of an academic!”). He expressed his dilemma about the time and financial constraint at pursuing a three-year MFA program and queried the possibility of an exchange programme between the students and faculty of JU and ASU.
His query met with an enthusiastic response by Melissa Pritchard who expressed the distinct possibility of such partnerships in the future. She said that her university was very eager for such global partnerships – “global interaction is enrichment on both sides.” Michael was helpful in his advice that there were more than 400 such MFA programs all over the USA that could offer a lot of choice in terms of the cost and the number of course years. Max pointed out the possibility of self-financing through the attainment of teaching assistantships.

Next came the dreaded subject of finding a publisher. There was a simultaneous sense of despair among all the authors with Michael coming up with “we still haven’t figured that out yet!” resulting in the room being in splits with laughter. Michael pointed to Melissa as being the only one who was qualified enough to answer that question, having published six or seven novels to her credit. Melissa was forthcoming about her stories of starting up as a writer. Melissa was a housewife to begin with, who nurtured her love of fiction through writing stories and sending it to various magazines.

At around 30 she realized that she still hadn’t started to work on her lifelong dream of being a writer but after the revelation she worked hard to teach herself the art of writing a novel or story. After many rejections – at the rate of one every afternoon, Melissa started to become depressed and decided that she was not writing for the sake of publication – she was writing for herself only. Once she was at peace with this realization, the acceptance letters started to pour in and one day (while busy at the mundane task of doing laundry at the basement) she received a phone call saying that she had won an award for her story.

Although this sounds like some sort of fairy-tale, there is a distinct lesson to learn. Melissa believes that a writer has to have two things – first to focus on the work itself and reach the perfection that it can and secondly be stubborn enough to carry on despite loads of rejection letters piling up. Ultimately writing should come from an ego-less state where it doesn’t matter who is reading the work. It is important to balance the humility with the desire to publish. Another way of dealing with the issue of publishing is to find a champion for your work – not everyone will like what you write – so it is important to have a champion with similar sensibilities. In a similar vein, a writer could also observe the publishers of her/his favourite authors. That way, publishers with similar sensibilities could publish similar work.
The students of Pritchard like Aimee and Michael also suggested publishing on the Internet. Michael has been regularly sending his stories to English magazines on the Internet and it is a done and an “in” thing these days to do that.

The other valid question, which found many heads nodding to it at the same time, was the question of constructive revision of the creative work, which usually comes out in a steady flow of emotion or passion. A first-year student of JU was concerned about his inability to go back to his work once he had finished it in one flow. The ASU writers had quite a few helpful pointers regarding this particular problem.

Tina (who is a poet herself): It is different for poetry. When you go back you have to see it with a critical eye. With time when you go back to it a month later, then you should be able to edit while you’re writing.

Melissa: You should develop a support community instead of a teardown community – it is very important to do that. Also it is about being honest. You are your own laboratory for characters. There are different motives and mixed emotions that you have felt and they become the material for your characters as well. So your characters can be really complex. The writer is often thrown into challenges – “am I being honest?” is a question you are constantly asking yourself. Sometimes you also grow out of your previous writing.

Aimee: I am very attached to my writing so it usually takes a very long time for me to come back for revising and editing it!

Darcy: I’m very self-critical – everyone has a different way to go about it. The more I write, the less time I need to set it aside. It is important to try and find out what was most truthful about it – the essence of the piece. An MFA is not the only way to start writing and revising your work – try to find two or three readers that you trust and ask them to read your work.

Max: Earlier when I used to write, it was more important for me to get on to the next piece, but as I’m revising my novel now, I see how important it is to go back to your earlier writing and go into the depth of it.

Talking of voices, Melissa suddenly came up with a surprising query – are stories still important? This led to a discussion on how stories are universal and can cut across cultures. It allows everyone to have a voice. The power to tell stories of our contemporary times is the enduring power of artists. And Rimi di added that sometimes the age at which one begins to actually pen down what one has inside could also be an important thing. For example it was only after she turned 30 that she could finally pull a gear on all that she had been meaning to write since her early twenties. Everyone has their own pace at which they write - a lot of it is a process, which includes thinking and could take a long time to find final expression.

The interaction ended with the distribution of the published magazine of original stories by the first batch of Rimi di’s Writing In Practice (WIP) course at Jadavpur University’s English Department.

The power to tell stories is a unique and universal power at the same time. This is what Kalam: margins write has always believed in and through more of such cross-cultural literary interactions we hope to continue executing our beliefs into action. Here's hoping Kalam, ASU's Piper Centre and JU's WIP course get more such opportunities to get together and brainstorm!