Combining elements, rhythms, and personas from American jazz, blues, and ragtime, poet Rita Banerjee presents a multi-lingual, 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. Echo in Four Beats, which was a finalist for the Red Hen Press Benjamin Saltman Award and the Aquarius Press/Willow Books Literature Award, will be released by Finishing Line Press on February 2, 2018. The poetry manuscript will be available for pre-order on Finishing Line Press’s website from October 10 – December 8, 2017. On Rita Banerjee’s poetry, the following writers have written:
“Rita Banerjee’s poems are an acrobatic music, a swinging erudition, a hip lyric to make shape of Whitman’s ‘ostent evanescent,’ a phrase he uses to conjure the metaphysical projections of the physical world. Banerjee, with thrilling compression and off-beat breaks, fashions a multi-dimensional America…With wit, play, consonance, anagram, assonance, the unexpected rhyme, Banerjee offers, in this short collection, a material, feminist, postcolonial critique of where we are as a nation, what we are made of, what we fail to make, and what we can make of language regardless…’ – Patrick Rosal, author of Brooklyn Antediluvian, My American Kundiman, and Uprock, Headspin, Scramble, and Dive
“’I had no roam / no hope to / call a // road’” writes Rita Banerjee, but I don’t believe her for a second. This is a mobile and hopeful speaker, capable of making her home in a rail car heading out of Manipal just as easily as she inhabits Renoir’s Bougival. Throughout, the worldliness is laced with heartache, in search of “’some solace that would heal the lines / between blue and continent.’” ~ Srikanth Reddy, author of Voyager and Facts for Visitors
“Rita Banerjee’s poems spin the reader into a world of tightly packed imagery that leaves us gasping at the edge of violent endings or floating in wondrous, ancient silences. With lyric intensity, delicacy, and humor, she has the capacity to make places and sounds palpable, taking the reader on a journey from Harlem to the Himalayas. This is a new voice of hypnotizing and rare beauty.” ~ Diana Norma Szokolyai, author of Parallel Sparrows and Roses in the Snow
Rita Banerjee is the Executive Creative Director of the Cambridge Writers’ Workshop and teaches at Rutgers University. 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 Poets & Writers, The Rumpus, Painted Bride Quarterly, Mass Poetry, Hyphen Magazine, Los Angeles Review of Books, Electric 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. Her poetry chapbook, Cracklers at Night (Finishing Line Press), received First Honorable Mention for Best Poetry Book of 2011-2012 at the Los Angeles Book Festival, and her novella, A Night with Kali, in Approaching Footsteps (Spider Road Press), released in November 2016. Her debut poetry collection, Echo in Four Beats, which was a finalist for the Red Hen Press Benjamin Saltman Award and the Aquarius Press/Willow Books Literature Award, will be released by Finishing Line Press on February 2, 2018. And her edited volume, CREDO: An Anthology of Manifestos and Sourcebook for Creative Writing, will be released by C&R Press on March 7, 2018. She is currently working on a novel, a book on South Asian literary modernisms, and a collection of lyric essays.