Leafless Trees, poetry and translation from Korean by Ihlwha Choi. Click here to read.
Ebar Phirao More(Take me Back) by Tagore, translated from Bengali by Mitali Chakravarty. Click here to read.
These narratives are written by youngsters from the Nithari village who transcended childhood trauma and deprivation. Will to be Human is based on a real life story by Sachin Sharma, translated from Hindustani by Diksha Lamba. Click here to read.
"I wish you survival,
And the closed sky above you."
— Refugee in my own Country/I am Ukraine, Lesya Bakun
Despite this being the season of multiple new years around Asia, we cannot close our eyes to the skies that connect all the world like a blue dome. Though celebrations and humour continue to lighten the darkness of war, while Ukraine is being wrecked, can we turn our faces towards only festivities?
I had an interesting anecdote about how before the onset of the Gregorian calendar, new years in the world were celebrated around March and in some places in September. The Earth would turn fecund and green with spring, a beautiful season sprinkled with love and nostalgia as Michael R Burch tells us in his poetry. However, despite all the opulence of nature, it is hard to watch a country being bombed and families splintered to man a war that supposedly guards a human construct called ideology and blocs. Ukranian refugee, Lesya Bakun, in an interview says: “It is not a clash of ideologies. It is a fight for our country and nation to exist.” Listening to Lesya’s stories makes one amazed at the bravery of the Ukrainians battling what seems to be cultural hegemony. It reminds of the war in Bangladesh in 1971. Though incredibly courageous in voicing her experiences, Lesya is traumatised and has a psychosomatic cough as she sends her voice and text messages from her mobile through Telegram. There were times when she was just weeping or angry for the questions asked, and justifiably so, as her home in Kharkiv, where she lived was under attack, and the town of Mariupol, where she was born, has been wrecked by the war.
The refrain of the pain of a refugee continues to reverberate in a book reviewed by Rakhi Dalal, Ramy Al-Asheq’s Ever Since I Did Not Die, written originally in Arabic and translated by Isis Nusair. The Syrian-Palestinian poet refused to clarify whether his writing was prose or poetry — perhaps these borders and boxes drawn by humankind are breaking down in reality. Perhaps, this new year, the time is ripe to look forward to a new world that transcends these borders. This is also the first time we have had the privilege of carrying reviews of translations from Arabic and also from Turkish. Gracy Samjetsabam has reviewed a translation of a Turkish novel by Iskendar Pala called The Tulip of Istanbul, translated by Ruth Whitehouse. Bhaskar Parichha has reviewed a book by Kiran Manral, Rising: 30 Women Who Changed India while Candice Louisa Daquin has drawn our focus on a poetry collection by Marjorie Maddox, Begin with a Question, where the perceived divisions do not matter while the poet questions the larger issue of faith in quest of answers.
Is it the same kind of quest that has led Strider Marcus Jones to create the Lothlorien Journal, named reminiscently after Tolkien’s elvish ‘Lothlorien’ in Lord of the Rings? Find out Jones’s views and flow with his fluid poetry in the featured interview. Keith Lyons has been in conversation with Ivy Ngeow, an upcoming writer and the editor of a recent anthology of Asian writing where she has retained different styles of English across the world in a single book. While this could be beneficial to writers, would readers be comfortable reading stories with different styles or dialects of English without a glossary?
We would like to thank Sohana Manzoor for our cover painting and Gita Viswanath for her artwork. I would like to thank our wonderful team who with their contributions make this journal a reality. All the contributors deserve a huge thanks as do our loyal readers.
I wish you all a wonderful start to a non-Gregorian new year and hope that peace prevails over parts torn by wars and dissensions.
I don’t remember when I started writing, or why I started writing. I don’t even remember my first poetry, or article, or any write up for that matter. It’s been an eternity. I just know I have been writing from the time when the children of my age were out in the garden playing games.
Writing runs in my blood. No, actually writing is my blood. It is my only escape from whatever exists outside into a magical world of inside. A world where I recline over ostrich cushions, cladded in a robe finely woven by the angels of beauty, wearing a bracelet made of stars, enjoying songs of cuckoo birds who gather to celebrate the baptism of newly born fairy.
I got lost. Now coming to the point.
I am a poet, or at least I think I am. And not a very good one, trust me. I mean no one has ever come to tell me that they enjoyed any specific piece of my poetry that I recited or shared on social media. No one reads my couplets to their lovers. No one texts me to tell me that they were touched by my recent ghazal or nazm.
None of those things happen you see.
But hey, hey, hey, no judging! I totally get it. I do understand. Even sometimes I too get this strong feeling that one of these days I am going to stop writing this stuff that I consider poetry. And I am not even lying.
But then there are two questions — could I really stop? And do I really have to?
And the answer to both of these questions is negative.
I mean whenever I pick up my pen to write, never ever I bother about what people want to read. I just write what my heart dictates ( like 90% of writers out there). It’s more like a revelation of my soul. And I can never stop listening to these revelations. Because I don’t know how to.
I mean, I wonder, if I stop writing then who will tell people about the old Neem tree which was there in my house, and which used to smell like heaven when the spring blooms came? Or those beautiful roses as red as the blood of Christ? Who will write about the lessons my grandmother taught me as a kid, or the lullabies that my mother sang to me? Who is going to narrate to them my perspective of the Romeo and Juliet? Who is going to write the last verse of that incomplete poem on my desk?
I need to understand the fact that when a poet writes a poem — no matter what — it is something that he has created, and he celebrates it. He should celebrate it! Irrespective of that fact the no one joins him in this celebration.
Because no matter what people say, every story is worth telling.
As I do not remember my first write up, I so don’t want to know my last. I want to die writing it. Leaving a door to my story open for others to enter.
Adnan Zaidi is pursuing his masters in law from Aligarh Muslim University, India. He has recited his poetry on various platforms and has also been published a couple of times by different magazines. He also writes his own blog, raising social and political issues.
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