Our days in Malgudi were good and terribly funny. RK Narayan turned 107 this month, and we at TBR celebrated it by searching for the fictitious Sarayu river (as we always are, at some point during the year.) A moment to contemplate Narayan’s influence is perhaps a moment wasted, for we- anyone who has ever read him- are almost always meditating on some amount of innate Narayan-ness. It is what lets us chuckle while hunching over an accounting book or making conversation at a dull dinner.
But before we are over the moon with it, now: Poe. Edgar Allan Poe was sad and high on cocaine; an expert on despair; a soldier. It’s been 165 years since he died on a Sunday morning, October the 7th. The man did all of humanity a great service by wading into the deep end of a dark lake, and testing the waters for all who might miss the ferry. Poe lets us enjoy everything Malgudi, and we salute him for it. Together they might form a buck- toothed Edgar Narayan with wild hair, sipping whiskey, draped in a long coat going door to door on a winter’s eve telling knock knock jokes. But perhaps Poe’s darkness is a bit too overwhelming. Perhaps it’s best we keep them apart.
Stories nestled in the good old funny are hard to come by these days. Kaartik and I were recently discussing the virtue of something that’s plainly hilarious, something that isn’t overly political, opinionated or preachy: something that is funny for funny’s sake. We would love to receive more submissions along those lines.
It is for the first time since our inception, that we are publishing more poems than stories. The ones in this issue were hard to refuse. Poetry for Ginsberg by Nicholas Foreman is a plea to the free verse, for liberation, for disillusion. Is a poet’s life nearly as poetic as its own concept, he asks.
Meanwhile, Begetting the Poets by Paul m. Strohm, seems almost to be, an answer. It weighs 14 generations of poetry and links them all with a simple word- ‘Beget’. The poem makes one think about the banner he carries, as a poet, and as a member of this legacy. Besides, the way he employs the word ‘beget’ is quite humorous.
Poetry that is not turned towards itself (if there is such a thing): Adam Augello with his poem ‘A sonnet for Mike Smith’ is a study of time through beautiful parallels, while Sushant Kumar dives right into the middle of contemporary ruckus with his poem ‘Selfieception’.
We have three stories this issue. Amitabh Vikram Dwivedi plays Narayan with his story ‘Shakespeare’, while Dr Gaurav Deka dons the role of Poe with ‘The sentence’. And last but never the least, RK Biswas writes us a new fable with her story ‘Batul and Rumpel’. Who can forget the giant?
We would like to thank everyone who contributed to the issue, all our illustrators and especially Aarti Ramachandran whose artwork now adorns our cover. The website header, a small fraction of the artwork made by independent artist and illustrator, Vishal Vasudevan, packs in a thousand psychedelic words from worlds scattered far and wide and the team thanks him profusely.
TBR would also like to take this opportunity to congratulate Neel Mukherjee on having written a moving, and historical book like ‘The lives of others’. It deserves to be read and reread for years to come.
With regards and best wishes,