“Tongue Circling Stories” – Emily Shearer reviews Echo in Four Beats for Minerva Rising

Emily Shearer, Poetry Editor for Minerva Rising Press, reviews Rita Banerjee’s debut poetry collection Echo in Four Beats  on Minerva Rising.  In her review, entitled “Tongue Circling Stories: A Book Review of Echo in Four Beats by Rita Banerjee,” Shearer writes:

If you have been waiting for sounds to fall from Echo’s lips and stir you to wakefulness, do not wait until after tomorrow. Banerjee is here with a rallying cry to carpe the f*ck out of this diem. “There were no tomorrows left anymore,” she warns in “Après-demain,” and “. . . there isn’t a story i haven’t believed in,” from “Paper Men.”

Jaswinder Bolina, author of The 44th of July, Phantom Camera, and CarrierWave, has called this book “the first truly post-national book of poems [he’s] ever read.”

Banerjee’s scope is wide, and her reach does not exceed her grasp. While she looks for home, characterized as nothing more than a “constant state of momentary arrivals*,” she dwells in ocean, in moonlight, in making love to Thanatos as a lover worships the body next to her in bed. She explores the realms of water, whether shipwrecked Atlantis or sound inside a leaf-grown well. She revels in the oop! and wop of a didgeridoo and regales in the language of Hindu gods, Japanese frogs, and those the world over whose tongues circle the stories of these poems, “ready for what / it will allow: / to wait for sounds.”

Read the full review of Echo in Four Beats  here.  Echo in Four Beats is available at Barnes & Noble and at Finishing Line Press here.

Disobedient Futures – Call for Spec Lit & Art Submissions!

The Cambridge Writers’ Workshop welcomes submissions of poetry, fiction, nonfiction, mixed-genre work, plays, and screenplays on the topic of “Disobedient Futures” for our new speculative literature anthology. Writers are encouraged to imagine what the future cultures of America and the world might look like, and submit their work on the following topics:

Disobedient Women: How might women, feminists, and/or non-binary individuals disobey and reconfigure our understandings of power and femininity and masculinity in the future?

Disobedient Tribes: What if Americans found a way to subvert racial categories and challenge tribalism and cultures of fear? How might tribes disobey the rules of the game and create new types of community identities and cultural bridges?

Disobedient Class: Could Americans in the future overcome systems of class oppression and capitalist gluttony? How might individuals in the future subvert class hierarchies?

Disobedient Futures: Tell us what the future cultures of America and the world have in store. How might the emerging generations of today and tomorrow reconfigure today’s value systems, challenge today’s modes of violence, oppression, and power, and create new visions of society? Give us your best speculative writing which explores the possibilities and disruptions of disobedient futures.

Writers are welcome to submit utopian, dystopian, parallel history, futuristic, alternative reality, speculative essay, and even purely speculative fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and theatre. Optimistic and pessimistic tales of the future are welcome in equal measure, but gratuitous violence and discrimination are not. Poetry submissions should be 3-5 pages in length. Prose submissions can be 10-20 pages in length.  Excerpts from longer works with synopses are welcome. Visual art related to these categories of Disobedient Futures is also welcome.  Submit your retelling of the future today!

Submit your work at cww.submittable.com || Deadline: February 14, 2019

Rita Banerjee’s poetry collection “Echo in Four Beats” now available for order on Amazon!

Rita Banerjee’s new poetry collection Echo in Four Beats is now available for order on Amazon.com and also through the Finishing Line Press website. Echo in Four Beats will officially release on March 9, 2018 at the AWP 2018 Conference in Tampa, Florida.  Here are some upcoming authors signings for Echo in Four Beats:

Rita Banerjee will be signing for CREDO and her new poetry collection Echo in Four Beats (Finishing Line Press, March 2018) at the Cambridge Writers’ Workshop Table (T403) from 1-2 pm on Friday, March 9, 2018.  She will also be signing for Echo in Four Beats at the Finishing Line Press Table (T743) from 1-2 pm on Saturday, March 10, 2018.

And here is more information about the collection:

Combining elements, rhythms, and personas from American jazz, blues, and ragtime, poet Rita Banerjee presents a modern-day spin on the love story of Echo and Narcissus in her debut full-length poetry collection, Echo in Four Beats.  But in this story, told in four parts, Echo is more than just a fragment, she is a Sapphic voice that speaks, foretells, forestalls, and repeats. 

Praise for Echo in Four Beats:

“In our narcissism-addled times, Rita Banerjee awakens Echo out of mythical slumber and accords her center stage, with stirring results. These poems dance nimbly from the playful to the sacred, the pentatonic-ancient to the jazzy-contemporary, the observational to the contemplative, and cross languages and borders with abandon…offering a music both savory and profound.” — Tim Horvath, author of Understories and Circulation

Echo in Four Beats uncover[s] what makes a word into a sensation, a sensation into a moment and what, in the swirling constellation of geographies, turns a moment into the sublime. Amidst the kinetic search for buried treasure in everyday encounters,…there are also unexpected collisions with silence so shocking, they stop us dead in our tracks. We realize the whiteness between words was here all along; its stillness curving the inside of this syncopated journey across time and space.”Dipika Guha, playwright and author of Mechanics of Loveand The Rules, and screenwriter for American Gods

“From Ovid to Baudelaire, from Manhattan to Atlantis to the Ganges, these poems conjure shape-shifting and gyroscopic worlds where erasure is sustenance, myth is religion, and home is but a constant state of momentary arrivals. Banerjee’s attentive, precise, incantatory poems reverberate… with the “enchantments of art/ and life.’” — Tara Skurtu, author of The Amoeba Game and Skurtu, Romania

“Rita Banerjee’s Echo in Four Beats is a lyric wonder. Wildly intertextual and multilingual…the breadth of her work is staggering and yet utterly approachable, at once intimate and worldly. This may well be the first truly post-national book of poems I’ve ever read. I look forward to reading it again and again.” — Jaswinder Bolina, author of The 44th of July, Phantom Camera, and Carrier Wave

“[In] Banerjee’s polyglot collection–abounding with erasure, mistranslation and wit, [she] has crafted something astonishing.” Stephen Aubrey, author of Daguerreotypeand What I Took in My Hand and Co-Artistic Director of The Assembly Theater, NYC

RitaBanerjeeRita Banerjee is the editor of CREDO: An Anthology of Manifestos and Sourcebook for Creative Writing (C&R Press, May 2018) and the author of the poetry collection Echo in Four Beats (Finishing Line Press, March 2018), which was a finalist for the Red Hen Press Benjamin Saltman Award, Three Mile Harbor Poetry Prize, and Aquarius Press / Willow Books Literature Award, the novella “A Night with Kali” in Approaching Footsteps(Spider Road Press, 2016), and the poetry chapbook Cracklers at Night (Finishing Line Press, 2010). She received her doctorate in Comparative Literature from Harvard and her MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Washington, and her writing appears in the Academy of American PoetsPoets & Writers, Nat. Brut.The ScofieldThe Rumpus, Painted Bride Quarterly, Mass Poetry, Hyphen Magazine, Los Angeles Review of BooksElectric Literature, VIDA: Women in Literary Arts, AWP WC&C Quarterly, Queen Mob’s Tea House, Riot Grrrl Magazine, The Fiction Project, Objet d’Art, KBOO Radio’s APA Compass, and elsewhere. She is the Executive Creative Director of the Cambridge Writers’ Workshop.  Born in California and raised in New Jersey, she teaches on modernism, art house film, and South Asian literary theory and aesthetics at the Institute for Indology and Tibetology at Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München in Germany.  She is the judge for the 2017 Minerva Rising “Dare to Speak” Poetry Chapbook Contest, and she is currently working on a novel, a book on South Asian literary modernisms, and a collection of lyric essays. Her work is represented by literary agent Natalie Kimber at The Rights Factory.

Letter Beginning with Two Lines by Czesław Miłosz

You whom I could not save,
Listen to me. 

Can we agree Kevlar
backpacks shouldn’t be needed

for children walking to school?
Those same children

also shouldn’t require a suit
of armor when standing

on their front lawns, or snipers
to watch their backs

as they eat at McDonalds.
They shouldn’t have to stop

to consider the speed
of a bullet or how it might

reshape their bodies. But
one winter, back in Detroit,

I had one student
who opened a door and died.

It was the front
door to his house, but

it could have been any door,
and the bullet could have written

any name. The shooter
was thirteen years old

and was aiming
at someone else. But

a bullet doesn’t care
about “aim,” it doesn’t

distinguish between
the innocent and the innocent,

and how was the bullet
supposed to know this

child would open the door
at the exact wrong moment

because his friend
was outside and screaming

for help. Did I say
I had “one” student who

opened a door and died?
That’s wrong.

There were many.
The classroom of grief

had far more seats
than the classroom for math

though every student
in the classroom for math

could count the names
of the dead.

A kid opens a door. The bullet
couldn’t possibly know,

nor could the gun, because
“guns don’t kill people,” they don’t

have minds to decide
such things, they don’t choose

or have a conscience,
and when a man doesn’t

have a conscience, we call him
a psychopath. This is how

we know what type of assault rifle
a man can be,

and how we discover
the hell that thrums inside

each of them. Today,
there’s another

shooting with dead
kids everywhere. It was a school,

a movie theater, a parking lot.
The world

is full of doors.
And you, whom I cannot save,

you may open a door

and enter a meadow, or a eulogy.
And if the latter, you will be

mourned, then buried
in rhetoric.

There will be
monuments of legislation,

little flowers made
from red tape.

What should we do? we’ll ask
again. The earth will close

like a door above you.
What should we do?

And that click you hear?
That’s just our voices,

the deadbolt of discourse
sliding into place.
                                           –Matthew Olzmann

MatthewOlzmannMatthew Olzmann is the author of Mezzanines (Alice James Books, 2013). He teaches at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and lives in Durham, North Carolina.  This poem is courtesy of Poets.org