July 16, 2009

At ZestPoets we were talking about the age limit for the Srinivas Rayaprol Poetry Prize, and how poets in India, when they are not-so-young, have few opportunities for publication of full collections.

Sridala Swami told us a little about Rayaprol (and Vivek found this letter to him from William Carlos Williams), and I realised I had this need to hear the stories of poets in India. When I was in Delhi and could badger poets who had been around longer for stories, I did not do so nearly enough. Because I was young - younger?

And then Vivek's point that what fuels chapbooks in the West, after all, is "collaborative energy and idealism". And that is what we need in India, even though there aren't any MFA programs yet turning the wheel and little money. We need to start journals. And stitch chapbooks. And sell them on railway platforms and in paan shops. Of course people will laugh. Of course and so?

The internet has made things wonderfully easy but I cannot imagine poetry without the pleasure of book-objects. I stitched my first chapbooks in April as a requirement for Cornelius Eady's poetry workshop. I could have ordered them, but I chose to stitch them - two of them. I went a little crazy with the first. It had a dark purple cardstock cover and deep pink liner sheets. Very smart. Then I glued silver-and-black paper on the spine. Which made it very very gay.

And I still loved it. I couldn't help loving these chapbooks of my poems I'd made with my own hands. Not like the anti-climactic feeling you get (I've heard) when you see your book "published". Okay. Perhaps I am romanticising a wee much. But you have to make them to get it. Go on.


  1. i would love to have a copy of your chapbook, only i'm not sure ic an call it a 'copy' when it's likely to be unique!

    you've been following the discussion on falstaff's blog?

  2. will make you your own, dala!

    i have to confess i got work-hassled and distracted and did not track the discussion - i wish i was better about this. but will go read it soon.

  3. It's true! I was so much prouder and more excited of my chapbook (December 2006) than of my book (2008). Something to be said for doing something for the joy of it, knowing it is small, than to do something knowing it is "important". So different it was, the book. So much less meaningful in some profound way.

    I would love to see your chapbook. Hugs.