Book Launch: Echo in Four Beats (poems) by Rita Banerjee Available for Pre-Order October 10 – December 8, 2017!


Rita Banerjees poetry debut, Echo in Four Beats, is now available for pre-order on the Finishing Line Press website from October 10 – December 8, 2017!

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.  Echo in Four Beats, which was a finalist for the Red Hen Press Benjamin Saltman Award, the Three Mile Harbor Book Prize, the Aquarius Press/Willow Books Literature Award, will be released by Finishing Line Press on February 2, 2018.

Early Praise for Echo in Four Beats:

Echo in Four Beats sounds the singular pulse of Harlem, Kyoto, Nainital and San Francisco to uncover a deeper mystery; 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 with photocopiers and the breathless search for lost objects, there are also unexpected collisions with silence so shocking, they stop us dead in our tracks. We realise 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 Love and The Rules, and screenwriter for American Gods

“Rita Banerjee’s Echo in Four Beats is a lyric wonder. Wildly intertextual and multilingual, Banerjee mines literatures, histories, and geographies, both eastern and western, to produce an expansive collection of poems. 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, andCarrier Wave

“Rita Banerjee’s Echo in Four Beats is a multilingual, intercontinental arpeggio of a journey on which ‘one layer/ of enchantment// dispels another.’ 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 ‘not sound not/ voice” and resound with the “enchantments of art/ and life.’”

— Tara Skurtu, author of The Amoeba Game and Skurtu, Romania

“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, from trains in India to a Munich museum to the local copy shop. Yet while they may ‘change [their] temperament as quickly as salamanders change skin,’ Echo in Four Beats  is constantly returning us to a tonic center and rebuilding its chords and arpeggios anew, offering a music both savory and profound.”

— Tim Horvath, author of Understories and Circulation

“Banerjee’s polyglot collection–pushing at the edges of language; abounding with erasure, mistranslation and wit; impossible to contain in a single tongue. From the smallest pieces of our world–the falling snow, cobblestone, a reflection in the water–Banerjee has crafted something astonishing that reaches towards higher truths.”

— Stephen Aubrey, author of Daguerreotype and What I Took in My Handand Co-Artistic Director of The Assembly Theater, NYC

Pre-Order Echo in Four Beats on the Finishing Line Press website now!

ritabanerjeeRita Banerjee the Executive Creative Director of the Cambridge Writers’ Workshop and editor of CREDO: An Anthology of Manifestos and Sourcebook for Creative Writing (C&R Press, March 2018).  She is the author of the poetry collection Echo in Four Beats (Finishing Line Press, February 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 the Academy of American Poets, Poets & 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 received her doctorate in Comparative Literature from Harvard and her MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Washington.  She is an Associate Scholar of Comparative Literature at Harvard and teaches at Ludwig-Maximilian University of Munich in Germany.  She is currently working on a novel, a book on South Asian literary modernisms, and a collection of lyric essays on race, sex, politics, and everything cool.

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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.

CWW Managing Editorial Intern Emily Smith for the Ploughshares Blog: “The Place of Zines in Contemporary American Politics”

zines-2

Zines straddle the border between Fluxist market-dodgers and the reputably tainted world of self-publishing literary dropouts. The difference between a zine and that 50 Shades of Grey-inspired alien erotica novel is function and intention. A zine works as a platform for writing and art that’s too provocative, political, or honest for traditional newsstand publications. According to Barnard College, which hosts one of the primary zine databases, literary zines are not well received, and that’s because literary works already hold a predominant place in the writing world.

As we wait for the results of the Iowa caucus and New Hampshire primary, there’s a sense that momentum is building toward a political explosion. A quiet shuffling, for now, which appears like a whisper on the pages of political zines: the most prevalent and useful of the breed.

Read more.