Thursday, January 26, 2012


Journalling has been one of the best things I have done in my life. For the last three weeks, I have journaled quite a bit. The result is, I have been able to articulate in language things I have been afraid to admit to myself for a long time. It is not that I didn't KNOW these things before, but having them written down in words -- words, sentences, tangible paragraphs-- to which I will be able to go back to read-- is hugely empowering. None of these things I would be able to share in this blog. Not only because I want to protect the privacy of the individuals concerned, it's also because I want to hold on to certain forms of privacy for myself very very tightly. There are things in my life that will never show up on this blog. But then, there might also have been a part of me, which was putting off articulating these things because I couldn't say them out loud in public. Journalling has helped me move beyond that stage. It is too early to comment on anything else-- will these words, literally written in tears on page-- help me to "move on"? Do I really want to "move on"? What does "moving on" mean? Admittedly, it's one of those words that's thrown around a lot in the self-help language, but what does it really mean to move on? So, I am not necessarily sure what all these little write-ups will mean for me years from now. What I do know is that, right now, they are providing me with a strange kind of courage. My journal entries are providing me with the courage to be more accountable to myself. And as I am writing these entries, I am also beginning to think of the role "private writing" plays in human lives. Especially when, as literary scholars, historians, we look into them to validate/problematize/ something that is bigger than individuals

Saturday, January 14, 2012

:: white space blank space breathing space::

Not that I have much time these days between applying for jobs and the dissertation. But whenever I get some time, I try to work a little on my manuscript. A lot of my earlier poems had this tendency to put within its folds almost everything. Consequently, they ended up sounding passionate, but also had the effect of reading extremely didactic. I would load up a single poem with image after image, thus giving it a kind of sensory overload. So, now that I am revising the mss, I am paring down a lot of my poems. I am realizing, a poem is just that-- one poem. It doesn't need to do everything. On the other hand, sometimes a long poem divided into multiple sections, needs some more breathing space than say, a sonnet. I am trying to organize and re-organize my mss in a way that my poems have more breathing space. More white space. I am not someone who believes in "less is more." No, less is less. In order to make less into more, we have to expand ourselves. Work harder. Figure our more imaginative ways to think through both the material and the language. But what I have come to recognize, more needs its own space. Sometimes that "own space" means more than just 'one poem." And sometimes, it means "more than one book." Aka more work.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

::Food Memoirs::

Have been reading Leslie Li's culinary memoir Daughter of Heaven: A Memoir With Earthly Recipes for the class I am teaching in Spring. Apart from the fact that her writing is absolutely fascinating, I am also wondering about a few things:

a. I am glad that I took up "food" (or should I say alimentation) as the theme of my class. My dissertation is primarily about violence, resilience and resistance. There is a heaviness to the things that come with it. On the other hand, food is essentially about survival, sustenance, creativity and celebration. At this point in my life, when everything is in the air, and I can hardly afford a decent meal, reading about food keeps me happy.

b. Food is about the quotidian. Consequently, there is an everyday-ness in the very writing of food memoirs that is hard to pull off in other genres. I am enjoying that everydayness immensely as I am working through Leslie Li.

By the way, Happy New Year!