This is a day the family sits down
to a dinner for a festival remembering
ancestors they say hover disguised as
birds and animals – on the lawn, on garden boughs.
Is my grandma among the cows?
I knew she was feisty! Maybe
a crow then. And her own mother
was she there too with her broken
teeth and sad robes yellowed with
age in a photograph some gora had
clicked at her rich spouse’s gracious permission?
The sweetened tomato chutney on
my banana leaf plate seeps away like blood
dark dark red, blood of aunts, wives
who cooked and cleaned, sucked
blood from cuts, bore kids and bled till
they stopped; bled in their hearts when widowed and denied.
A few grains of paddy, holy water, forefathers still
flocked outside; on the television a woman wails.
I flip through an old photo album. Sepia, forgotten clutter.
© Nabina Das (Originlly published in Guntur National Poetry Festival anthology, India)
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What is your writing process?
--No process really. It starts with anything I can jot down. Even an 'ah' or an 'ahem'. But I've found free writing to be quite useful as a 'method'.
Where do you write? Is Ambiance Important? Do you have rituals or habits when you write?
--Wherever my laptop is. On the sofa, the bed, a park bench, an airport waiting area. Any ambience gives me stuff for writing -- a blaring siren, a monotonous airport TV, a noisy cafe, the quiet of my green neighborhood. I have no rituals. The only habit is thinking, sometimes long, too long!
How do you prepare for a feature poetry reading? Do you practice your poetry before a reading?
--Oops, done only a couple of small, very small readings. Hope I can become a good reader of poems some day.
How has poetry changed your life?
--I guess we change each other everyday.
What advice would you give beginning poets/writers?
--Read a lot, read the best. And, of course, write! Also, don't be afraid of criticism.
What is your view on self publishing?
--Not eager about it right now. Always appreciate a different set of eyes judging my work.
What influences your writing the most?
-- Gender, Histories, Identities.
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Digital Art by Jen Pezzo