The poems are beacons for me too.
They hold in them the gentle, fiery guidance of transformation and the remainders of maps. Make your own map; you are the key. They track the unraveling of self, identity, identifications. They trace a becoming—how the ancestors, the motherline opened its embrace wide and invited me in. These are the poems in which I stepped all the way in—I was not pretending. The trail leads me yet again to Her eye, unclouded and clear-seeing, where life begins.
Then it is not unusual at all that with its publication, the book has searched me for all the ways in which the ego holds one in trance: Do you compare well to others? Do you please others? The trance still has a bit of hold on you, the poems laugh at me. They have already counted my deaths and are ready to witness me die again, be reborn, here for the long game. The spiral moves, still.
But a bit of thanks also (beyond that acknowledged in the book). To Jeet Thayil, who may not remember this, but who—in the way he can be blunt, in the way he does the work of art—chided me, when he heard about the poems in my dropbox, for not putting them together as a book, for not already working on my second book. That nudge over dinner was what got me to move through my alienation from certain anthropological practices in spaces that produce and promote literature, to begin working on the manuscript that became Bright Parallel. The earliest unwieldy draft started right then, in Bangalore.
A second thanks to Ranjit Hoskote. I had begun communication with the amazing Ashwini Bhat in March 2022—I knew I wanted a woman artist from South Asia on the book's cover—just like for my chapbook Ordinary Annals, for which Palija Shrestha was kind enough to let us use her painting—isn't it true that the worlds we are a part of even now are defined and ordered by the hegemonies of masculine subjectivities—and Ashwini's work is exquisite, she is exploring some of the same faultlines in culture, nature, and spirit I have been trying to put my finger on. It was Ranjit who went through her oevre and found "Fainting in Coils 5." He said, "I like it for the same reasons as you do - the relay of material difference, the interplay of past and future, the mythic resonances of coils and (un)coiling." I said, "I love this image. The contrast of ceramic and thread, continuity/fragment, history/future, susurration..." "And the evocation of mossiness..."
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