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Moinak Dutta – Mango pickle jar

Mango pickle jar

The jar under sun is filled with thin slices of green mangoes,

dipped in mustard oil, the prime attraction for us to go to terrace,
my mother’s mango pickle jar
would be the one that would keep us for hours at the terrace,
we would chew those slices which would send a flurry of aftertaste – a curious mixture of sour, sweet and pungent, added to it the burning sensation of dried chilli flakes,

‘But how could you make jar look filled? In absence of slices of
mangoes?’
Someone amongst us would ask,
pour mustard oil – sister would quip,

then again we would climb down from terrace,
go to kitchen to collect mustard oil;

my mother’s mango pickle jar,
would give us little adventures in summer.

.

moiMoinak Dutta is a published fiction writer, poet, teacher. His poems and stories feature in international anthologies, magazines and dailies including ‘Madras Courier’, ‘The Statesman’ (kolkata edition), ‘ World Peace Poetry anthology ‘ ( UN), ‘Spillwords’, ‘Setu’, Riding and Writing, ‘The Indian Periodical’, ‘Teesta Journal’, ‘ Pangolin Review’, ‘ Tuck Magazine’ ‘ Duane’s Poetree’, ‘Story mirror’, ‘Tell me your story’ ‘ Nature Writing’, Oddball magazine’ ‘Soft Cartel’ magazine, ‘ Diff Truths’ magazine, ‘ Mason Street’, ‘ Narrow Road’ ,’ The little journal of North East’, ‘ Ethos Literary Journal’,’ The Literary Fairy Tales” Bengaluru Review’, ‘ Defiant Dreams’, ‘Dynami Zois’, ‘Muffled Moans’ ( a special anthology against women and child abuse, gender violence, published by Authorspress, New Delhi,) ‘Quesadilla and other adventures ( an anthology of food poems published by Hawakal Publishers, Kolkata).
He has written many reviews, notable ones are : on ‘ The Upanisads ‘ ( translated by Valerie J. Roebuck) which can be found at www.blogapenguinindiaclassic.blogspot.com and the review of ‘ The Ballad of Bapu’ ( written by Santosh Bakaya) and essays and articles on education and literature and other topics in both e- books/e – journals and as printed books/ papers (like one on ‘ Amalgamation of social media and literature: pros and cons, published by Viswa Bharati Research Centre and Sahitya Anand), ‘ Erothanatos’ ( academic and literary journal), etc;
His first full length English fiction ‘Online@Offline’ was published in 2014 by Lifi Publications, his second, ‘ In search of la radice’ was published in 2017 by Xpress Publications. He edited ‘Whispering Poeisis’ over 100 poems from 60 poets from India and abroad and published in 2018 by Poeisis.
www.moinakdutta.wordspress.com
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Jennifer Wong discusses her poem Maria

‘Maria’ is one of the newest poems in my collection. In this poem, I imagine and inhabit the life of a domestic helper in Hong Kong, reflect on what it feels for her to live and work in someone else’s home, so different from her own world. In Hong Kong, most of my friends have live-in domestic helpers. (When I was a child, my family never hired a domestic helper.) There are around 400,000 foreign domestic workers in Hong Kong, with nearly half from the Philippines. Every Sunday, a community of domestic helpers would gather at Statue’s Square and parks in Hong Kong, because it’s their only day off and they do not even have their own homes in Hong Kong to relax in and spend their weekends. In a city like Hong Kong where property prices are exorbitant, these helpers live in their employers’ homes, but then their room is usually tiny, with little space for anything more than a bed, a wardrobe and some storage.

One day, I went to visit Elizabeth, one of my friends and former colleague, and she told me how her helper, Maria, has a family of her own in the Philippines including a very young child, but Maria would only visit her own family once or twice a year. Some (or most) domestic helpers don’t have dinner with the family they work for at the same time: they eat alone, in the kitchen or in their own room, before or after cooking the whole meal for everyone. All these got me into thinking, what does it feel to be in Maria’s marginalised position? What does it feel to have to leave your family and your home behind? To live in a home that wouldn’t be so clean and tidy without you, yet at the same time, so extravagant to someone who is earning a minimal wage for a job that demands six days a week? To experience that solitude? To be expected to cook something that belongs to another culture, to call your employer ‘ma’am’. Maria’s own child could go to a better school—possibly, lead a better life—with the modest wages that Maria sent back home each month. But this arrangement meant that Maria would only see her daughter once or twice a year.

Writing ‘Maria’ makes me think of poetry’s ability to change the world: to let us imagine, to contemplate that things can happen differently, to change people’s minds.
***

Maria

In your home I only perspire. When I move about from room to room, dusting the shelves, shaking the pillows, watering the plants, I am a
mindful ghost you don’t notice.

Each morning when I bring Hazel to school at 7.40am, I feel the brunt of my conscience. Her trusting eyes, her well-ironed uniform, the words she
can spell.

Then there is Hazel across the ocean, in the country of mango trees. The Hazel I have not hugged for months and months, her school in San
Fernando that I knew nothing of.

Some days when no one is in, I gauge the weight of the house key in my pocket, think of how much I knew, your every single routine, all the silver photo frames on the shelf. I look out of the window—so spick and span—at the view of the harbour and the green hills I cannot afford.

I set down the bags of vegetables and meats from the market. This evening, I will make you stir-fried rice, some choi sum and green and
red carrot soup with pork.

As steam rises from the rice cooker, and the aroma of the soup fills the air, I try to dream back my own daughter into being. Last time I saw her was in spring, and she told me her best friend is called Angel. She wanted a
bob hairstyle.

.

JenJennifer Wong was born and grew up in Hong Kong, and is the author of two poetry collections including Goldfish (Chameleon Press 2013). She studied English at Oxford and received an MA in creative writing at the University of East Anglia. She is the recipient of the Hong Kong Young Artist Award (Literary Arts) and earned a PhD on the idea of place and identity in Asian diaspora poetry from Oxford Brookes University. Her work, including poems, reviews and translations, have appeared in various journals including The Rialto, Poetry London, Poetry Review, And Other Poems, Oxford Poetry, Stand, North, Wildness, Cha, Wasafiri, Voice & Verse, Warwick Review and others. Her works have won the runner-up prize at the Bi’an Writers Awards and have been long-listed in pamphlet competitions and National Poetry Competition.

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Paul Tanner – snivelling in the literal shadow of the muse

snivelling in the literal shadow of the muse

spending this
sunny day
indoors
so I can sit here
telling you about it
gives me
a perverse joy
I could never
put into words.

.

Paul Tanner has been earning minimum wage, and writing about it, for 15 years now. No, really. Shortlisted for the Erbacce 2020 Poetry Prize. Latest collection ‘Shop Talk: Poems for Shop Workers’ published by Penniless Press last year.

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Constance Bourg – Watch Us Chase Our Tails

Watch Us Chase Our Tails

The sky, the clouds, rained-upon March morning.
Then a few minutes of gold, dark-bright

as I wolf down my breakfast in the café
in the square near my apartment.

Cleo’s sandals slapping
as she crosses the agora.

We owe her a debt
for striving for something greater

than our assembled parts. This quest
born from fear for the sudden sound at night

that hangs in the stillness before,
like a box wanting a lid.

We are going,
we are going,

until a transmuted clump of algorithms
wipes out our imprint.

.

Constance Bourg lives in the Flemish part of Belgium, where she volunteers at her local library. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Rogue Agent, Plath Poetry Project, Blanket Sea, Frogpond, Haibun Today and an anthology of poems about illness by Emma Press (UK). She always says that she leads a part-time life because of a chronic illness called ME/CFS.
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Penfro Festival Competition closes July 1st 2020

penfro-logo

A competition with a ‘green’ theme (interpret as broadly as you like). The competition will tie in with the ‘Loving the Earth’ Green Fair weekend later this summer at Rhosygilwen in Wales, where winners will be announced.

Competition closing date: Wednesday, July 1st, 2020.
Winners announced: August 29th/30th
Cost of entry: £5 per poem
1st prize: £300, 2nd prize: £100

OIPThe judge is poet Adam Horovitz, whose second full collection of poems, The Soil Never Sleeps, was published by Palewell Press in 2018. It was written over several seasons on six pasture farms in England and Wales, all of which eschew conventional, chemical-driven farming practice in favour of ecologically minded, biodiversity-friendly farming.

Adam says: “I am interested in poems which dig deep into the ecosystem; poems which root around in the soil and dig up surprising ideas and expose new shoots of life; poems which ask hard questions more than they offer answers; poems which are beautiful, challenging and full of subtle music and danger – much like the world we share.”

 

 

VISIT THEIR WEBSITE HERE: https://rhosygilwen.co.uk/penfro/

 

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Sanjeev Sethi – Ron 2

Ron 2

His eyes culled purpose from faraway
sequels. His countenance was our cerate.

His demeanor never stirred the stillness
to divulge its rage and resentment.

One could be with him, wordless. His
being: like a golden oldie.

You turned to be the brisker one:
beating me to the sidereal spread.

The others were lighter: when you charged
towards the check after our eating out adventures.

Your current slip leaves me without a limb:
you’ve no idea what it is to lose a son.

 

.

PHOTO SELF(7) (1)Sanjeev Sethi is published in over 30 countries. He has more than 1250 poems printed or posted in literary venues. He is Joint-Winner of Full Fat Collection Competition-Deux organized by the Hedgehog Poetry Press. His poem, A Factory of Feelings was voted Poem of Month March 2020 at Ink Sweat and Tears. He lives in Mumbai, India.

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Poems by Valentina Casadei

01.

The dawn for the stars
the hunger for the jaws
the inertia for the steps
You’re rain on sheath
you are that word I don’t say
You disregard the vacuum rules
and eternity awaits you among the breaths

02.

We saw the night come
with the outbreak of all your bombs
that shattered the rattle of memories
and followed the splendor maps
We saw the night come
in despair of abandon
mentin that hermitage where lives
my pity for your doctrine
We saw the night come
with open eyes, in the dark
in the bliss of your breaths
full of meaning and pale colors

03.

Creation is impure
The ephemeral taste
that compose it
– the transparency that condemns it –
it’s a dance without veils
of perfect circumferences
and just a few shortcuts

04.

I want to go west and see whales
in the trout shelters
Then east, in the forest
with the frost of the pods
in the ancient silence of the lush groves
The seasons follow one another
my troubles wither
the infinite spring of my seed
become a son’s word
defeated mother’s thought
In the earth beaten by the hand
in the heat of that yellow dryness
that stains the land of rainy thirsts
In the ancestral need of womb and caress

05.

I trembled in the wake of my scattered thoughts
I stopped the summer
and the predisposition of my soul to catastrophes
in the lonely weariness of my worst day
was a distracted kick
among light clouds
and oddments of monstrous visions
of near futures
And as the insatiable bee, I existed

06.

In the randomness of one step after another
on the road
my thought becomes
asphalt, the color of a dazzle
tints and shades of amaranth
like deserts and the dry lawn
that I walked naked
crawling
just out of the cradle
loose like a candy
randomly chosen by a faceless hand
Pine needles scratched calves of crumbs
and the navel- the ravine of the body, the mystery
of the earthlings -prayed the divers to get lost in its meanders
to swim in the body and explore it
in its uncertain finiteness
in its thin figure
fasting for years
for the loneliness of the meal
between the mirage of the day and the oblivion of the night

 

Valentina Casadei is a 26 years old screenwriter and author.  She has written four books: a debut poetry collection, Fragile Torment, published by Bertoni Editore (Perugia, 2018); The Inertia Step is forthcoming from Sama Edizioni (Roma, 2020); her first novel, Instant, will be published is published by Ferrari Editore (Rossano, 2020) and her first narrative poem by Seri Editore (Macerata, 2021).

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Edward Ragg – Exploring Rights, Cinnamon Press

Exploring Rights strikes new ground, exploratory and questioning of our roles and ethical choices, in a poetry that defiantly and playfully confronts ‘post-truth’ culture and the prospects of humankind’s survival.

exploring_rights

Endorsements for Ragg’s new collection:

Exploring Rights could not be more timely but is not only that: this book has the sustaining resonance of true works of art. This is formidably intelligent yet also tender and approachable poetry — a poetry of care, linguistic brio, philosophical range, sharp assessment, and occasionally savage indignation. Ragg modulates expertly between dispassionate attention and impassioned song. In Ragg — an Auden for our moment — delicate lyricism and discursive command co-exist. Exploring Rights registers our modernity and its human (and more-than-human) challenges, from Europe to China to the US to the Arctic. Ragg is a varied maker — a wizard of sampled documents, archival materials, legalese, spam, bots. Ranging from Catullus to Himmler to our era of surveillance, Ragg’s many-tongued verse shimmers with a complex intellectual and sensual music. Ragg tests his art on the most difficult yet urgent question: how and whether to pursue ‘the luxury of the poem’ in these days.

Maureen N. McLane

 

Anthem at Morning

How wonderful it would be
in this brightest of mornings

to walk in the clear light
not of possibility

but purpose and to sing
in that same clear light

of the purpose that
in all possibility is today.

[from A Force That Takes]

The Empress of Peonies

So Empress Wu Ze Tian
the petals of the peony,

buxom as Tang women,
proscribed…

By the waters of Luoyang
the faceless Buddhas stand.

But the rock, black rock,
carved of a single sculpture,

in which the pattern
of peonies appears,
also stands.

It is a natural formation,
at least they say
formed naturally…

And I have wondered
if poetry now
is the appearance

of peonies – the pretence
of peonies – in a world
of rock, black rock:

knowing it is neither those
nor superstition of locals.

For we must speak more
quietly – and – slowly

in a world of keyboards
and carnage indistinguishable

in the field hospitals
(military and civilian),

speak – softly – for the faceless,
the woman within the Empress
so softly the buxom peony.

[from Holding Unfailing]

.

Great Length Impeccable Finish

Too many phrases impacting, imploding.
Too many meteorites no larger than footballs,
phutting in the dormant corners of the moon.

The wine swirls through the glass which
swirls through my hand: languouring red cherry,
leather and barnyard, fragrant sous bois.

It is the statement of its past. Even wine can
be made with irony, or too total techniques.
It is the aesthetic that leaves nothing to chance.

I said too much at the start, wrote little,
unravelled the mysterious selvage, hawked up
literary fur balls, left dirty poems on the porch.

I dispelled the volatile shaking too much.
My oxidized life was sun-burnt, overripe.
This bottle-barrelled pen… let it ferment itself.

[from Exploring Rights]

.

This is a complex and intently-reasoned collection which addresses historic and contemporary issues with unflinching attention. There is mordant wit, formidable energy, and a relish for analysis of various appetites. A prevailing and chilling concentration is sustained throughout. These poems witness the urgency of recording and understanding our past and present human darknesses.

Penelope Shuttle

.EdwardRaggEdward Ragg was born in Stockton-on-Tees in 1976 and, since 2007, has lived in Beijing, China. He won the 2012 Cinnamon Press Poetry Award and his first collection of poetry was A Force That Takes (Cinnamon Press, 2013).

Edward’s second volume, increasingly engaged with contemporary China, was Holding Unfailing (Cinnamon Press, 2017): praised for its ‘intriguing, supple poems that range across the world and across the landscapes of the mind’ (Sarah Howe). Edward’s third collection was Exploring Rights (Cinnamon Press, 2020), a more formally and stylistically experimental work challenging ‘post-truth’ culture: noted for its ‘linguistic brio, philosophical range, sharp assessment, and occasionally savage indignation’ (Maureen N. McLane).

Edward’s poetry has been anthologized in the 2014 Forward Book of Poetry (Faber & Faber, 2013), Lung Jazz: Young British Poets for Oxfam (Eyewear Publishing/Cinnamon Press, 2012), Jericho & Other Stories & Poems (Cinnamon Press, 2012), Visiting Wallace: Poems Inspired by the Life and Work of Wallace Stevens (Iowa University Press, 2009) and New Poetries IV (Carcanet Press, 2007). His poems have appeared in Aesthetica, Acumen, Agenda, Cha: An Asian Literary Journal, Cordite Poetry Review, Critical Quarterly, Envoi, Orbis, Other Poetry, Papercuts, Poetry Quarterly, PN Review, Seam, The New Writer, Three Line Poetry and other journals.

Edward is also a critic: author of Wallace Stevens and the Aesthetics of Abstraction (Cambridge University Press, 2010) and co-editor of Wallace Stevens across the Atlantic (Palgrave, 2008). He is co-founder, with his wife Fongyee Walker, of Dragon Phoenix Wine Consulting and became a Master of Wine (MW) in 2019.

 

 

 

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The Reader Magazine – relaunch

The Reader relaunches ‘the magazine of the Reading Revolution’ 

reader

Biannual magazine inspires a deeper connection between literature and life

The Reader magazine, which started life in 1997, has relaunched as a biannual publication.

The new-look magazine – aimed at readers who know that great literature does something more than delight and entertain – celebrates great books and poetry that can help with the difficult stuff of ordinary human life.

The publication is the creation of The Reader, the charity that brings thousands of people together each week in free, weekly groups to talk, laugh and share great novels, poems and plays – aloud and alive. The groups help people build meaningful connections with each other, and themselves, improving wellbeing and reducing social isolation.

Jane Davis, The Reader’s founder and director, added: “Reading can help us through all sorts of tough times and The Reader magazine celebrates the power of literature to do this. In these uncertain days, we hope that the words within these pages will provide inspiration and comfort in equal measure.

“For those readers already in our Shared Reading community across the UK, the magazine – along with our virtual readings and recommended reads – will help us to stay connected in the months ahead, despite the fact that we can no longer come together in our weekly groups.”

Frances Macmillan, editor of The Reader magazine, said: “After seventy issues of the magazine in its original format, last year felt like a good time to pause production and take stock.

“The result is a reimagined magazine that will inspire keen readers looking for first-rate reading material, while flying the flag for the Reading Revolution that’s at the heart of The Reader’s charitable work.”

Along with personal, passionate recommendations and discussion of great literature, ‘the magazine of the Reading Revolution’ showcases the stories and poems that are read in The Reader’s weekly Shared Reading groups up and down the country.

It also includes essays and articles which show how reading together builds meaning and connection, and helps with inner life, mental health and soul troubles.

Poet and author, Blake Morrison, who helped kick start the growth of The Reader into an international movement when he wrote a Guardian article in 2008 – something which is discussed in the latest issue – said: “I’ve been a supporter of The Reader since I first came across the organisation in 2008. It’s a delight to see this new manifestation of the magazine, with its bold design, lively features and passionate commitment to the value of reading. Long may it thrive.”

Alison Clark, Director North, Arts Council England said “The Reader magazine relaunch comes at a time when people are looking for ways to entertain and inform themselves from home. I’m sure that readers from all over the country will welcome the opportunity to stay connected to The Reader and its work through the magazine’s varied and lively content during this period of isolation and I wish its relaunch well.”

Other writers and contributors featuring in the relaunch issue include children’s author, Pat Butchart, Lord Howarth of Newport CBE, Co-Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Arts, Health and Wellbeing and former President of the Royal College of General Practitioners, Iona Heath.

Issue 71 of The Reader magazine is out now and on sale for £8 in all good bookshops via Central Books, and online at https://www.thereader.org.uk/the-reader-magazine/

 

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For those whose ends I’ve followed – Eleanor Beeby

For those whose ends I’ve followed

Is this my curse,
Because I relished your words
I, a blank-faced spectator,
surreptitiously lining up my unworthy part
in this text-block hammered, manufactured oeuvre.
Sickened, I think of those
whose graves I have scrambled for on sparse, gorse smothered hills.
Primordial bloodlust mistaken for sanctum.
Surely your maggot-bitten bone masks would scorn me

And in this too, I feel my lowliness.
No room to conjure vivid dreams, pastel, technicolour dreams for the living.
A prosaic, grey faux-marble box, with cheap chrome fittings.
A towel from Ikea, hanging by racks of soaps and oils,
craning their necks like crowds at the guillotine

yet his moment lacks any bombasticity.
My blade is prised from a plastic razor
once used to erase the shame of my unfemininity.
But the souls gate I know well, it’s place I have often sought.
The slow thud of escape from shadow has soothed me,
nestling like a lamb in the hollow cradle beneath my palm.
I test my will, droplets swell.

The razor drops
I again find myself unworthy
And retreat, like a beaten dog, back to my pillowed keeper.

.

 

Eleanor Beeby is a Belfast based poet. Her work explores the liminality between lived and universal experience through the lenses of feminism, mental health and international human rights. Her work has been featured in publications such as The North, The Moth and Wordlife. She works in the field of health, social care and international development and has lived and worked in working towards a career in International Development and has lived and worked in Madagascar and across South and South-East Asia.