Conflict is the touchstone that shows me how close I want to keep a relationship. Does the person pull back? Hide? Become defensive and belligerent? Certain things crush the vital spirit—mine too, I've learned—so, paying attention, I listen and disengage.
But once we have moved through that raw gaze together—and done our best—there is an intimacy: we've seen each other's intention. That is where energy begins from again and again. That is the art of returning each other—and ourselves—to innocence.
Elated to have nine poems here, in this unparalleled anthology bringing together 94 poets across India—that imagined geography stretching across ancestral spoors & diasporas--
Thank you to Jeet Thayil for listening to that beat, and to Penguin Random House for bringing us the book.
Get it here.
One Sunday in early November of 2021, my friend Alka invited me to come visit her in Chicago. We had just taken a walk through SF's Japanese Tea Garden. In a few days, she was moving to Chicago. I found myself saying—quickly, without premeditation--I'll come if Notre Dame invites me. Can you imagine my delight and amazement then to receive on Thursday a few days later Notre Dame's invite to be a part of its Creative Writing MFA Alumni Symposium.
Along with Jackson Bliss, Patricia Hartland, Katie Lattari, Ae Hee Lee, and Blake Sanz, I will be back at Notre Dame on April 20th and 21st to read from my work and talk about life after the MFA. And yes, I will spend a day with my friend in Chicago afterwards.
Synchronicities are curious phenomena. Their messages are sometimes less transparent than what the gullible causal mind would have us believe. In the long view, I am curious what is unfolding. Aren't you?
A few years ago, I picked up the Yoginis' Oracle by Stella Dupuis at the National Museum, New Delhi. I had just been to the National Crafts Museum to talk to someone about Pupul Jayakar, whose phenomenal book "The Earth Mother" had opened a new understanding for me about women as keepers of ritual art traditions in India. I was about to head to Lata Village in Uttarakhand, drawn there both by the stories of the women of Chipko that to me spoke of their holding the links between land, the sacred, and social change; and by Nanda Devi—the goddess and the mountain. In my PhD dissertation, I called this following the snake.
Then last year the yoginis alighted into my life. I was entranced by the animal-headed yoginis and the animals cooccurring with yoginis. There was an intuition knocking at me through my studies in anthropology, cultural histories of women, and feminist tantric philosophy. I turned to the incredible work of scholars such as Vidya Dehejia to ground my understandings.
I bring these together in my panel presentation at the Symposium of the Association for the Study of Women and Mythology—this will also be appearing in print later this year. Through commentary and poetry, I will share my hypotheses and insights on the relationships between yoginis and animals.
May the hidden be revealed in a way that serves the planet and our consciousness. May the links between us and all our kin be regenerated. May the memories of our pasts and imagination carry us into the future.
I am sitting with an old wound today... around losing my voice.
In part ancestral, in part structural and systemic, in part because of planets in retrograde, this wound alchemizes into a place within me that has painstakingly learnt to bead together silence and words—no wonder it was poetry that first gave me voice—and, more recently, to open up to not knowing, trusting that the words will come—a path of surrender.
But sometimes it appears as if the words will not come, and I am back to that old flounder/wound, looking at another layer of healing ready to emerge.
So, even these moments of disconcertedness are sacred moments. I am here for it all. May both the words and the silence be true.
I am remembering that it is okay to not know, to not know what to say, to speak words that are not perfect, to risk disapproval and even indifference, to not be perfect. There is permission for all of it in the void at the heart of the world.
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