When I was a child, we would look forward to the mango holidays – as we called the summer vacation – with great delight. Apart from the mangoes, the vacation also meant days of reading and indoor games. This issue of Muse India hopes to ensure that you have days of reading to pass yout time in the hot season.
In this the last of the regular features that I will edit for this wonderful e-journal, I have decided to include many poems, stories, excerpts and essays. This includes the works of thirty-one poets and six writers of fiction, many of them eminent and some who are just starting off in their writing careers. I had fun selecting the poems and must emphasise that, as always, this is an idiosynctractic choice. I would have loved to include many more poets – I love poetry but also this seems to me the time for poets. So many have published individual collections in the last year and a half, that one can simply have an entire issue dedicated to them. It is good to see older poets still active and still interesting and giving the younger ones a run for their money. It is also good to see the strength, the range, and the vitality of poetry written by newer poets. I didn’t start out to showcase this, I just asked a few poet-friends for their contributions to my last of the regular features and selected the rest from the submissions made for this issue. The range of concerns, the variety of forms, and the differences in the use of language that you see in the poems simply happened. Many thanks to all the poets who have contributed to this issue, especially those who I asked and best wishes to others who submitted in good faith and introduced me to their poetry. I know the courage it takes to send out poems to an unknown or even a known editor, and what it means to face both selection and rejection. It is a testimony to the good health of literature that so many do so.
I enjoyed reading almost all short fiction submitted for consideration. A pity that I couldn’t accommodate more in this issue but even those I didn’t include will get published soon. This is an interesting country and we live in interesting times – there is a story that happens everyday to each one of us. Each one of us may not be a walking novel, but we certainly are walking collections of short stories. It was a delight to put this section together and it is a wonderful feeling to introduce new voices to the Muse India readers. Krishna Devulapalli is of course a well-known writer, one of the few that can see humour in every situation – India needs many more Devulapallis now more than ever.
The essays look at three different sub-genres – graphic fiction (or old fashioned comics!), science/speculative fiction, and literary (historical) fiction. While Sami Khan has made a name for himself as both a writer of and a writer on Science Fiction, the other two are beginning to be known in their fields. Again, my apologies to the many fine essays I didn’t choose to include – many of them are good enough to be published almost as they are in other places.
I am happy to include an excerpt from a forthcoming novel by that wonderful writer and scholar, Saikat Majumdar. Our novelists are coming up with so many good works that we need to have more than a year to read them adequately. It is again good to note the range of genres from literary fiction to detective to historical to speculative to romance (and others) that our writers cover. I wanted to showcase the newly emergent significant genre of graphic fiction by including a short section from a published book – in this case, a book on Indira Gandhi by Devapriya Roy and Priya Kurian.
This seems like an issue that tries to cover all bases. Yet, I am afraid that there is so much else that I could have done!
It has been a good ride with Muse India. Sometimes I think that the poetry that I put together for more than a decade will suffice to make a good anthology of contemporary Indian English poetry. There are a few poets I havent had the chance to include (mainly because of lack of response and my communication skills) but there is one poet, not unknown to me, who I could never include. Perhaps, you will see him feature in future issues now! I will end with three lines from a recent poem of his, which celebrates the humble hand fan, the staple of our summers:
… the hand fans see us through hot days and nights
Of the powerless, each fan a story
Each swing a song, a sigh, a smile of memory
Issue 79 (May-Jun 2018)