CWW Alumni News: Aaron Graham’s “Blood Stripes” to be published by Sundress Publications

AaronGrahamPhotoWe’re thrilled at the Cambridge Writers’ Workshop to hear that Aaron Graham’s manuscript, Blood Stripes, will be published in 2019 by Sundress Publications. Aaron, an alumnus of our 2017 New Orleans workshop, hails from Glenrock, Wyoming, which boasts seven bars, six churches, a single 4-way stop sign and a population of 1159. He has twice served as editor of the Squaw Valley Review and is currently the assistant poetry editor for The Tishman Review. Aaron is a veteran of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq where he served with the The Marine Corps Human Intelligence and Counterterrorism Task Force Middle East as an analyst and linguist. He is an alumnus of Squaw Valley Poets and the Ashbury Home School and was the Cecilia Baker Memorial Visiting Scholar at Seaside Writers. His poetry has won the Penumbra Prize and f(r)iction Magazine’s Best Poem for Summer 2017. He has also been nominated for Best of the Net. Aaron is currently finishing his Ph.D. in Literature at Emory University, hosting elaborating tea parties for Disney Princesses and his daughter Alexi and holding down an English Lectureship at Kennesaw State University.

Proposal

So marry me with my guns
on and with a big bag of
earth plant a couple of
morning lights some solar
lights, the kinds
that often come up stolen.
We have a headstone, a big one,
So put bricks down, dig the dirt
in between. I put flowers there ever
since I bought that plot to be buried
in.

I wore my best wig, and put her Mole
on my heel. My brother brought his actor
friends and they performed late into each
night
and gave away pink umbrellas.
A week before her birthday, we held her
wake and we didn’t know that at a birthday
wake there is a raising, then a lowering of
the casket.

Aaron Graham

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CWW Poetry Faculty Rita Banerjee discusses Amrita Pritam, Publishing, and Sexual Politics for VIDA: Women in Literary Arts Exclusive

AP2Rita Banerjee’s article, “Amrita Pritam: Sexual Politics and Publishing in mid-20th Century India” is now live as a VIDA Exclusive on VIDA: Women in Literary Arts.  In the article, Banerjee translates Pritam’s poem, “Night” from Hindi into English, and writes:

Writing from a minority perspective as an American, it’s often hard to find creative and intellectual predecessors who are writing from your culture of origin but who aren’t necessarily writing in English or just trying to be celebrities in the global Anglophone literary marketplace.  For South Asian writers, for women in the literary arts, and for writers who are looking to challenge the patriarchal hegemony of Anglo-American literature, Amrita Pritam is a must-know writer.  In the 1940s, she came to prominence as a political and feminist writer in India, first in Punjabi literature, then in Hindi and Urdu translation, and finally internationally.  By the 1950s, like Simone de Beauvoir and Bretty Friedan in the West, Pritam was challenging patriarchal values at home, redefining gender roles and narratives assigned to women, and openly challenging heteronormative sexual politics.  In doing so, she ushered in a new wave of feminist literature in mid-20th century India even as she faced criticism for her work from her male counterparts and from within the Punjabi, Hindi, Urdu, and South Asian publishing industries at large.

That was our tryst, yours and mine.
We slept on a bed of stones,
and our eyes, lips and finger tips,
became the words of your body and mine,
they then a made translation of this first book.

The Rig Veda was compiled much later.

– Amrita Pritam, “First Book”

In Pritam’s poetry, one is not born, but rather becomes a woman.  Her unflinching gaze at sex, her exploration of emotional and psychological nakedness, and a sense of self-irony and self-knowledge underwrite several of her poems.  In her poem, “First Book,” quoted above, Pritam explores how the very act of physical, sexual love, unbound by the mores of society, collapses the distances between the sacred and the profane.  And in her poem, “Amrita Pritam,” the poet takes a hard look at the mythos of her own public identity and the narratives of victimization ascribed to it.  She writes: “Pain: / I inhaled it, / quietly like a cigarette. // Song: / I flicked off / like ash / from the cigarette.” (Singh 29).

Read the full article on VIDA: Women in Literary Arts.