What they do not tell you, when you finally kiss a girl is, that it may not feel right the first time, it may not feel right ever. sometimes walking out of the closet is like walking into a new one. The labels you choose after years of rummaging, through leftovers from past revolutions, and all the sneers thrown at school, the labels might still not fit as perfectly, as you thought they would, but you’re allowed to get them wrong again and again. When this confusion becomes the most familiar part of my day, I think I’ve spent too long in the closet, for all these ill-fitting sizes, and too awkward shoulders, by now, I should’ve figured what to do with a black eye, how to stitch torsos to fit like armour, what do you mean all this lace and satin wasn’t meant for me? When you kiss a girl, you will still not know what to do with your hands, they’re too wobbly for this business, the parts of her, you thought you knew your way around would still feel alien, and unfamiliar, like going back to where you once lived, where everything is the same, but nothing really is;
but you’ve practised for this unfamiliarity, your hands on her stomach, might make you hate yourself a little less, for her soft belly, is just soft belly, not disappointments measured out in tacos, after all, you might not crave the sharp edges, you thought you always needed, you wouldn’t have to fold yourself so small to fit in little pockets of love love is Marine Drive, huge, and salty, but waiting, and it doesn’t care what shape you are.
when you kiss a girl, maybe all the flowers in all the poems will make sense, maybe you’ll want to melt all the words, that shuffle through your mind as her face fits perfectly between your chin and your shoulder and melt them with the sweetest of lies, and pour into the cracked edges of the world, just so it heals.
what they do not tell you, about kissing a girl is even when you like it is that your eyes will always stay open on the lookout for fire, but there might be lipstick and hers might wear on yours like a swatch Make a colour you can’t name, and when you get home your mother might say this shade this shade makes you glow.
We Swallow the Sun to Keep from Stuttering
as a person, a gender, an orientation, a heartbeat,
was never a one-time thing,
but we keep longing for it to be,
it will be our last time around.
You tell me,
what it’s like to dream,
a body for yourself,
heights and hair and hands and parts,
that match your heart,
you want to pick a name,
so much softer than all the things you’ve been through,
maybe one day,
these longings will just be the memoirs and reminder,
which come after new dawns.
You have never longed to be understood,
under kinder skies and with undoubtful eyes,
but until then,
and I’m not really a hug person,
but I think we can both use one,
it is hard to carry so much hurt,
in chests that have never quite felt like your own,
in hearts that have learnt to love,
in ways, they weren’t taught,
in hands that still have to prove
longings are soft,
but it’s the soft things that destroy us in the end,
that turn fights into revolutions,
it always hurts to become,
what you’ve intended to,
no one is looking,
blossoming is still blossoming;
we are, after all,
the truest reporters of ourselves,
no matter how many times we got it wrong before.
the moon does not have to ask,
before it changes,
the moon has never learnt to apologise,
when it shines greater than the sun.
Anureet Watta is a 19 year old poet from Delhi. She writes of queerness, girlhood and the overwhelming anguish of being alive. Performing across open mics in Delhi, she believes spoken word poetry is the perfect amalgamation of poetry and theatre.
Authentic and alternate: LGBTQI+ Writing in india and the rest of asia submit your creative writing, read proud, write proud
The pride movement took off in the 60s and 70s. With it, came forth magazines and publications that would come to archive voices, experiences, and the social change. Words poured here, insights shared, norms questioned — until the written word began a movement of its own. These glossy print editions or stuffed newsletters were building an informed consciousness, driving home one key idea: that LGBTQI+ rights were unequivocally human rights.
It’s a different century, a different decade. What started as a dribble has emerged into a sea of change. Progress has varied across continents and socio-cultural discourse. Asian society, in particular, has been steeped in political dissent. Ideas about gender identity and sexual orientation continue to be misunderstood; fluidity and freedom to love treated with disdain; and religious/cultural doctrines misinterpreted.
Stray too far from binary gender standards and one would be treated as deviant, an anomaly deserving punishment. Nations like Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Indonesia have a formidable record of homophobia and transphobia – where many activists have been jailed and worse, killed.
But the movement towards equity and inclusivity hasn’t lost steam. In the last decade, magazines, zines, newsletters, and independent websites have emerged to shape the LGBTQI+ discourse in their own voices. These publications are cultivating a sense of community and safety, educating and informing the public consciousness, giving a platform to creative expression, and destigmatising a conversation that warrants a place in civil society. ‘Love is love is love’ becomes a rallying cry, a resilient beam, and the ultimate truth these publications swear by.
Here is a list of independent publications — zines, magazines, websites – that are representing the LGBTQI+ voice with luminosity and valiance. The idea of pride has never been more accessible, democratic, and inspired.
By Saumya K
The Bombay Review Estd. 2014 | New York / Mumbai
Call for submissions! While not a dedicated queer magazine, The Bombay Review also publishes LGBTQ+ themed editions.
We are now reading for Volume II: Fiction, Poetry, Essays, Art, Reviews. Solicited entries are paid $50 per contribution. Submission details here.
What would the comic scene look like with female representation? How do you create heroines? Thus formed a platform to voice observations from South Asia through graphic storytelling by womxn, LGBTQ+ and queer communities. Its anthology, Bystander, features 50+ artists, illustrators, designers, and writers from 13 countries, and is the first splash as they make waves in graphic storytelling, inspiration, and creativity.
Founder:Aarthi Parthasarathy, Aindri Chakraborty, Akhila Krishnan, Garima Gupta, Janine Shroff, Kaveri Gopalakrishnan, Mira Malhotra and Pavithra Dikshit Theme: Gender, geography and borders, identity, and inclusion Social Media: Instagram, Website, Twitter, Kickstarter Format: Multimedia, zines Year launched: 2016
“An ever-expanding group of creators, we work on self-authored projects and zines. Kadak means strong, severe, sharp — like our tea.”
Launched in 2007, Outrage Magazine is the only LGBT webzine in the Philippines. It constructs a safe space for the Filipino queer community and LGBTQI allies to express and assert their voices. The publication also conducts workshops and researches concerning the community’s interests.
Pitch ideas to: firstname.lastname@example.org Editor: Michael David C. Tan Theme: Minority issues, gender and sexuality, identity politics Genre: Features, profiles, personal essays Social Media: Website, Twitter, Instagram Format: Online Year launched: 2007
“We believe that LGBTQI voices need to be heard, particularly when mainstream media does not treat our issues the right way. And so we bring these issues up.”
Burnt Roti Magazine
The magazines delves into representations of young womxn, South Asian womxn and queer womxn. Its third issue will look at anti-blackness in South Asian communities and will feature five mixed ethnicity creatives. As an archive of experiences and stories, the magazine hopes to destigmatise conversation around sexuality, mental health, and issues relating to the self. It also curates a directory of South Asian creatives for hire to showcase and encourage talent.
Editor: Sharan Dhaliwal Theme: Gender and sexuality, women’s rights, mental health, identity and representation, colourism, racism Genre: Interviews, short fiction, essays, reviews Social Media:Twitter, Website, Patreon, Instagram Format: Online Year launched: 2012
“We do not want to offend, we just want to give opportunities to those who are otherwise cast aside in the world of writing.”
Galylaxy was born out of a need to fill the lacuna of queer voices showcasing their triumphs and stories in India. The e-magazine is an archive of stories that impact the diversity of voices and a platform to campaign for queer visibility.
Send ideas to: email@example.com Editor: Sukhdeep Singh Theme: Gender, sexuality, identity, civil rights, current affairs Genre: Personal essays, features, news stories, more Social Media:Twitter, Website Format: Online Year launched: 2010
“…we are still trying to bring out new facets, voice evolving concerns and simultaneously learn about the fascinating diversity of the queer community.”
Gaysi is a portmanteau of ‘gay’ and ‘desi’, two things that are still blending in the broader culture. It regularly publishes stories online for, by, and of the South Asian queer community to nurture social expression. Anything from text, graphic to interactives. What started as an online forum turned into a print magazine, the Gaysi Zine, in 2011 in the hopes to expand the reach of the queer movement as widely as it can. The publication is a movement in itself — a melange of love, art, and resilience.
Editor: Sakshi & Jo Theme: Gay rights, LGBTQ+ voices, queer perception and Indian cultural norms, pop culture, gender and identity Genre: Opinion, personal essays, fiction, graphic novels and comics, poems, reviews, news stories Social Media:Twitter, Website, Instagram Format: Online blog and print Year launched: 2008
“Our stories will be written for those who still believe that they are the ones who are different.”
Fifty Shades of Gay
FSOG’s novelty lies in its mission: to destigmatise all that India hides in time-honoured taboos. It encourages conversation on the likes of family planning, safe-sex practices, LGBTQIA+ identity and stories — often treated as conversational pariahs in the social context. The website documents stories, encourages conversation by putting up factsheets and FAQs, and has a helpline for personal support.
“Fifty Shades of Gay believes in a fair and equal India where everyone can achieve their full potential, irrespective of sexual orientation or gender identity.”
The Varta webzine is a part of Varta Trust and was launched as a campaign to encourage dialogue around gender and sexuality. As a multilingual publication, it weaves together the diversity in the Indian landscape and helps them access stories of and from the LGBTQ+ community. The Trust conducts training, research, policy and media advocacy under its banner.
Board of Trustees: Pawan Dhall, Kaushik Gupta, Madhuja Nandi Theme: Gender equity, sexual identity, diversity and inclusion, identity and expression, health, human rights, environmental issues Genre: Personal essays, interviews, critical commentary, reviews, poems, fiction, travelogues Social Media:Facebook, Website, Twitter Format: Webzine and online blog Year launched: 2012
Queer Chennai Chronicles
QCC is imagining the queer community through a regional lens and distilling it through the world of literature. The literary forum held Chennai’s first queer literary festival, organises an independent film festival, published a book, and launched its bilingual e-zine, paalputhu pakkangkal. It is looking for voices that can help bring out a queer-centric narrative.
Founders: Moulee C and Violet LJ Theme: Gender, sexuality, social and cultural expression, LGBTQ community, anti-caste values, racism Genre: Fiction, poems, art, non-fiction, reported features Social Media:Twitter, Website, Instagram Format: E-zine Year launched: 2017
A digital magazine of NGO TARSHI, In Plainspeak is a dialogue between people in the global south about sexual and reproductive rights. It started as a print publication in 2005 and has since evolved into a webzine, with discussion and knowledge creation around socially-vetoed topics. The bilingual zine brings out two issues with a unifying theme each month. Like TARSHI, it is creating a safe, inclusive, and sexually-affirming discourse.
Founders: Anisha Dutt, Radhika Chandiramani, Shikha Aleya Theme: Sexuality, social stigma, awareness and perspective, reproductive rights, disability, sex work Genre: Interviews, reviews, personal essays, non-fiction, fiction, poetry, short films, podcasts, artwork and illustrations Social Media:Twitter, Website, Facebook Format: E-zine Year launched: 2005
“…highlighting how sexuality intersects with various aspects of our daily lives.”
As a queer zine, Scripts lives up to empowering the queer female voice and much more. The publication was launched as a campaign by Lesbians and Bisexuals in Action (Labia) Collective, a watershed organisation in LBT activism in India. The publication along with the autonomous, Bombay-based collective has weaved a space for cultural and creative expression. It cultivates multiple conversations around social justice and queer identity.
Editor: Unknown Theme: Gender, sexuality, social justice Genre: Fiction, poem, personal essays, comic strips, illustrations, social commentary Social Media:Twitter, Website, Facebook Format: E-zine Year launched: 1998
The website is the digital arm of a grassroots collective started by queer men in Tamil Nadu. Orinam is all about inclusivity, as the ‘o’ rounds in the luminous spectrum of gender and sexual orientations. The website is a one-stop shop for resources, advocacy material, archive of protests, and also houses the blog, Our Voices. It regularly publishes stories about the LGBTQIA+ community, their allies, and social interaction in Tamil Nadu.
Theme: Human rights, LGBTQIA+ representation, gender and sexuality, South Indian diaspora Genre: Personal essays, poetry, fiction, articles, podcast, interviews Social Media: Website, Twitter, Facebook Format: Online Year launched: 2006
“Hues may vary, but humanity does not: This line stresses the notion of sameness across difference, or unity in diversity, a cornerstone of India’s national aspiration and basis for the LGBTIQA+ struggle for equality.”
Sappho for Equality, an activist forum for lesbians, women, and trans rights, is inspired by the Greek lyric poet. It is of little wonder then that its bi-annual publication would be rightly titled Swakanthey, or “In her own voice”. The bilingual six-page newsletter is published in January and June every year, and is an articulation of LBT expression and advocacy of their rights. It is distributed across the hallowed halls of Kolkata International Book Fair each year.
“In Our Own Voice is a movement by itself both in the field of sexuality rights in India and little magazine in Kolkata.”
The Bangladeshi social discourse beams with strict gender roles and heteronormative ideals. As LGBTQ+ movements gain momentum at the grassroots, Roopban has cultivated a legacy of courage. It made history with its first-ever print magazine advancing their mission of “freedom to love”. The founders of the autonomous body were assassinated by extremists as they campaigned for gender diversity. Yet, the movement has been relentless in its struggle. The magazine has evolved into an online community blog that explores gender and sexuality in a society in transition. The archive published a queer poetry book in 2015, Roop Gonti, and a collection of letters from the LGBTQI+ community, Iti Roopban, is expected to be released soon.
Theme: Gender and sexuality, violence, social oppression, identity politics, human rights Genre: Essays, opinions, poems, personal narratives, photos Social Media:Twitter, Website, Instagram Format: Print and online Year launched: 2014
“We believe that we must come together as a community, build strong networks, and create platforms to voice important issues relevant to the advancement of the Bangladeshi LGBT+ community.”
Equality has been described as the first archive of LGBTQI+ lifestyle in Sri Lanka. Launched under the NGO banner of Equal Ground, the quarterly magazinefurthers its mission of ensuring socio-cultural rights and political equity in Sri Lanka.
Mail for contributions: firstname.lastname@example.org
Founder: Rosanna Flamer-Caldera Theme: Human rights, LGBTQI+ representation, gender and sexuality, civil society, legal aid Genre: Personal essays, interviews, reviews, poems, short stories Social Media:Twitter, Website, Facebook Format: Online blog Year launched: 2016
“Our goals are to make the lives of LGBTIQ persons in Sri Lanka meaningful and free from stigma and discrimination.”
A bi-monthly in Singapore, Element is dubbed as the one-stop shop for the Asian LGBTQ+ community. It delves deeper into the gender diverse narrative — featuring stories about lifestyle and personhood of queer voices across Asia. It is also Singapore’s leading men’s magazine.
Pitch ideas to: email@example.com
Editor: Noel Ng Theme: Asian LGBT community, lifestyle, fashion, LGBT rights, personal grooming Genre: Features, interviews, news stories Social Media: Website, Twitter Format: Online Year launched: 2013
“It brings the Asian gay community together with contents that are closely associated with their lives.”
The queer community in Bangladesh is in the midst of a menacing social movement. As a queer cultural organisation, Mondro describes itself is the first and largest queer archive in Bangladesh. It directs attention towards the spectrum of gender, non-conformity, and fluidity. The archive includes resource creation, online blog, and advocacy tools. In August this year, it launched its first webzine in Bangla titled Thahor, which translates to contemplation.
Theme: Gender, sexuality, queer identity, conflict, social oppression, activism, violence, gender discrimination Genre: Personal essays, non-fiction, videos, illustrations, poems, short stories, translations, interviews, reviews Social Media:Twitter, Website, Instagram Format: E-zine and online blog Year launched: 2019
“Recognize and give space to Bangladeshi queer lives that are forgotten and erased from dominant history.”
South Asian Today
The autonomous organisation has one aim: to pass on the mic to South Asian women and non-binary individuals. And it does that with ingenuity and passion, using multimedia tools like videos and podcasts to create and engage. The inspired storytelling hopes to reflect the diversity of the South Asian subcontinent.
Editors: Dilpreet Kaur Taggar and Tanja JV Singh Theme: Identity and gender, health, and reproductive rights, popular culture, South Asian diaspora, socio-political issues, racism and caste Genre: Videos, podcast, personal essay, interview, social commentary, poetry, photo essays Social Media:Twitter, Website, Facebook Format: Blog and newsletter Year launched: 2020
“As an inclusive space, our goal is to solidify diversity within our own communities and pass on the mic to those who have not been given enough chances to tell their stories.”
Some more web zines and magazines: Upcoming / Recently established
Here is a new list of magazines to submit your work!
We, at The Bombay Review have a special focus on emerging and established writing from the Middle Eastern region. So if you are from or write about the region, and wish to have your work published with us, submit away! Our themed editions, published or forthcoming are on: Iran, Iraq, Palestine, Israel, and Egypt. While submissions for these open regularly, we sure look for great writing all year round. Details below, along with the list of other literary journals/magazines. We are constantly working to update this list, if you know of a publication that can be here, drop a comment below. The list is in no particular order.
– Editor, The Bombay Review
The Bombay Review Year established: 2014 Published from: New York City & Mumbai Genres: Fiction, Poetry, Essays, Art, Reviews, Interviews, Culture pieces Submission period: All year Type: Online + Print Website | Instagram | Facebook Submission fee: None Payment: Ranges from Nil to $50 Editors: Kaartikeya Bajpai | Rochelle Potkar
13 LITERARY MAGAZINES The Middle East (English/Bilingual) Short fiction, poetry, translations, reviews, screenplays, essays, and more.
The Bosphorus Review of Books
Year established: 2017 Published from: Istanbul, Turkey Genres: Fiction, Non-fiction, Poetry, Book reviews Submission period: All year Type: Digital Website | Instagram | Facebook Submission fee: Nil Payment: Nil Editor: Luke Frostick and Thomas Parker
Year established: 2013 Published from: Egypt & Kent, United Kingdom Genres: Short fiction, Flash fiction, Poetry Submission period: All year Type: Digital + Print Website | Facebook Submission fee: Nil Payment: Nil Editor: Sherine ElBanhawy
Year established: 2013 Published from: Dubai, UAE Genres: Poetry, Short fiction, Essays Submission period: All year Type: Digital Website | Facebook Submission fee: Nil Payment: Nil Editor: Rewa Zeinati
Year established: 2010 Published from: Dubai, UAE Genres: Articles Submission period: All year Type: Digital Website | Instagram | Facebook Submission fee: Nil Payment: Nil Editor: Iman Ben Chaibah
Year established: 2018 Published from: Unknown Genres: Poetry, Fiction, Essays Submission period: Rolling basis Type: Digital + Print Website | Instagram | Facebook Submission fee: Nil Payment: Nil to $500 Editor: M Lynx Qualey
Year established: 1998 Published from: London, UK Genres: Translations Submission period: All year Type: Digital + Print Website | Facebook Submission fee: Nil Payment: Nil Editor: Margaret Obank
Year established: 2017 Published from: Saudi Arabia, Michigan, USA Genres: Poetry, Fiction, and Non-fiction writing Submission period: Rolling basis Type: Digital Website | Instagram | Facebook Submission fee: Nil Payment: Nil Editor: Ahd Niazy
Al Jadid Magazine
Year established: 1995 Published from: California, USA Genres: Essays, Features, Reviews, Interviews, Translations Submission period: All year Type: Digital + Print Website | Facebook Submission fee: Nil Payment: Nil Editor: Elie Chalala
Year established: 2002 Published from: Iran Genres: Interviews, Articles, Poetry, Short fiction Submission period: All year Type: Digital Website | Facebook Submission fee: Nil Payment: Nil Editor: Unknown
Year established: 2013 Published from: Iran Genres: Poetry, Fiction, Nonfiction, Drama Submission period: All year Type: Digital Website | Facebook Submission fee: Nil Payment: Nil Editor: Unknown
Year established: 2018 Published from: Yemen Genres: Essays, Short fiction, Nonfiction Submission period: All year Type: Digital Website | Facebook Submission fee: Nil Payment: Nil Editor: Hamza Shiban
The Istanbul Review
Year established: 2014 Published from: Istanbul, Turkey Genres: Poetry, Fiction Submission period: All year Type: Digital Website | Facebook Submission fee: Nil Payment: Nil Editor: Hande Zapsu Watt
A shadow of darkness fills my gaze, As the nightly air patrols around The once lovely countryside all in a haze, So deathly a silence, my heartbeats resound.
The moon appears to heal my wounded soul, Emerging as a ray of hope through a gaping hole, Sending a subtle hint straight into my heart, If darkness comes, light is not far apart.
The Cuckoo’s Calling
A fruitless day spent idling on the couch, was made endearing by a cuckoo’s call on the porch. A single note that rang out, pure and clear, Enchantingly beckoning its near and dear.
Come on comrades! Let us rejoice, Sans pollution, nature has regained her poise, For, the heartless humans are still behind bars, Just this once, we can truly see the stars.
A single voice with so much hope, Of expressing it, no music has scope, All the guilt the humans are stalling, Has been brought forth by the Cuckoo’s calling.
Deekshita Rajesh Athreya is a 15 year old student at Udgam School For Children, Ahmedabad. She has a passion for the English language and enjoys reading. Her favourite authors are J.K. Rowling and Rick Riordan. She loves Robert Frost’s poetry.
we live in a glass world glass dolls and glass minds growing out of glass jungles glass bodies cracking and green this glass shatters in this glowing stream of green blood and green hearts bleeding blackening grease green governments eyeing the glass green and piercing glass into these bodies that spew their spleen of earth-shattering green glass breaking, burning, brewing glass minds that grow glass ideas and pierce shards into these green goats glass ministers take glass decisions as the glass pushes through the cracking earth sprouting out of these concrete jungles into the glass tongues of these glass people silencing these glass voices you are glass, and I am glass too living in a world that is growing glass roots
lies my mother told me
mama said she saw the purple flowers decorating my back she also saw pomegranate blood dripping from my thighs she says that daddy loves me a lot but mama why does it hurt so much when he runs his hands along the whip and paints my back with flowers mama is wrong this cannot be love mama lied to me and i only realized that when i saw mama’s back littered with wild petunias
How to Get a New Heart
the thud of my footsteps reverberates with the sound of my heart leaping out of my body and falling onto the middle of the road I watch as it vibrates with so much intensity and finally comes to a stop there is a cavity in my chest now where my heart once was I look at it in desperation waiting for it to show me something give me a sign I try to pick it up and put it back where it’s supposed to be “you are not supposed to be here, go back inside” and suddenly a car runs over my heart as I watch in horror my poor crushed heart now has blood leaking from every cut blood splattered on the streets how do you feel safe when the ones protecting you are the ones inflicting this pain tell me teach me how do I feel alive again how do I feel alive again how do I feel alive again ink marks on my fingertips spread as I keep writing painting these pages with my heartbreak and sorrow one day I will scream these poems and you will listen someday, I will find a new heart waiting to beat full of life I will feel alive again or so I tell myself
When the Reality Sets In
when the reality sets in his buoyant veneer cracks as the truth slowly crawls its way to him through his façade cracking it little by little as he clutches his little sister’s lifeless body in his hands the soulless body (he is not used to saying corpse, please don’t say it) staring into his being with beguiling chasms (please wake up, I love you so much it hurts) his mother stands there and screams as the reality is slowly hammering itself into his brain (I am so sorry I couldn’t protect you, please forgive me) screams lacerate his throat he spills honey words into her ear waiting for his love to manifest itself in the form of a miracle miracle he wants a miracle to bring long-gone sister back home as he shakes violently hugging her close to his chest (can’t you see that I’m hurting? please come back) the universe gyrated the day Esteban’s sister put herself to sleep fifteen years later, eidolons haunt Esteban as he sits on the kitchen stool. “Eat up Julia, we don’t want to be late for school now, do we?” he says, turning his head towards the empty kitchen stool next to him.
An Ode to My Past Self
this is an ode to my younger self and to my present self and to my future self sunshine and candies sound marvellous but that is not what it will be like every second every minute every day tick, tick, tick you see, time will not stop for you and there will be days where your voice will slither and hide in a hidden curve of a hidden place in your intestine where it will stay there till what feels like eternity trapped and sometimes not and your tongue will swallow all the venom coated lies you tell yourself that sometimes drip of honey honey liquorice sugar sweet salty lies lies that will break your home lies that will break you lies that will forever remain lies truth will stare you down it will make you queasy jittery uncomfortable your neck will itch and your insides will twist twist into a knot the kind that takes patience to undo and that day your mouth will run dry your fingers cold your body will be on fire fire fire you will think of sacrificing yourself and succumbing to the honey liquorice sugar sweet salty fatal lies but that day stare your fears down stare the doubt down until you burn holes in its head and it stumbles backing away from the truth looming over you find that voice and tell yourself that you will be alright that you will do this again and again and again and again till the truth seeps through the crevasses of your mind and stays there maybe it will never stay but tell yourself that you will fight this fight every second every minute every day till you feel alright again
Dark Girl’s Magic
Some days I wake up Brush my teeth with anxiety And braid my hair with pain There are days I chafe at my dark skin As insults burn holes in my heart as I walk in The school corridors A sense of alienation hammering into me I carry anguish on my shoulders I feel like my soul is being crushed by boulders Boulders of my thoughts and your words Standing in front of the mirror I scratch my skin As the sin of me being dark-skinned weighs me down You pointed at me and laughed As I stood there staring at the ground Waiting for the earth to split open and swallow me whole
Aunty tells me that I am pretty for a dark-skinned girl That I have nice hair and that almost compensates for the colour of my skin No, I don’t want your almost compliments I suddenly forget how to breathe as it slowly dawns on me That dark is an atrocity I am almost convinced that the universe Is making me pay for all my sins My world gyrated the day I told myself I can never be enough, not in this skin
One day I thought I finally found A solution to my problem White semi-liquid substance encapsulated in a bottle My hopes and dreams died As I frantically slapped it on my face And rubbed it in until my skin was sore I screamed I screamed in rage As I looked at the bottled in duplicity
You see melanin is only pretty When it comes in tiny amounts That day the oceans collided and my cries were futile But thank the Gods it didn’t work My skin is not a painting open to your criticisms I am not a doll sitting by the window waiting to be admired by strangers you see, I was taught that dark skin didn’t deserve to be loved that I could never love myself I blame the unrealistic beauty standards set For young girls and boys The perfect hourglass figure The toned muscles The plump lips The doe-eyes And the fair skin And of course, just the right amount of curves Stop this
We are going to claim our identities back We are going to truly find peace in ourselves So to all those who scratch their skin And try to bleach it I say don’t Stand up for yourself and don’t you drown in dismay For dark is magic Dark is beautiful Dark is elegant Dark is powerful Dark is the pupil which sees the world Stars etched into the crevasses of your mind And embedded in your arteries You are made of stardust My love, you were born from a magnificent supernova Your skin is as wonderful as the limitless dark depth of the universe Gold spills from your mouth There is so much more to you than just your skin And don’t you cry, o’ moonchild You have magic running through your veins Feeling beautiful is loving your thoughts your mind and your soul listen not to those who tell you that you aren’t enough for you are a child of the dark cosmos you are more than enough
U. Sai Sruti is a student in her final year of high school at Tagore International School, New Delhi, India. Her writing has been recognised at several forums, most notably Katha Utsav, a national event where she was awarded the grand prize. Rudy Francisco, Nikita Gill and Porsha Olayiwola are her favourite poets.
Literary magazines are a catalyst to good publishing in any country, functioning as a parallel industry to traditional book publishing. A rich literary magazine landscape comments on writing being taken seriously, and also nurtures a reading market for aspiring writers. Stimulating intellectual conversations, niche catering, lending support to Creative Writing programs, and providing a platform to be heard, or well, read; surround the larger role of magazines.
In India, South Asia, Africa and certain parts of the world, literary magazines may have another role to play. Support writing careers. The magazines are a pillar to graduates of literature, passionate readers, bibliophiles, hobbyists; lending them the shoulder to spring start a probable writing career.
Here, today, we have curated a list of our favorite literary magazines of Indian/Asian origin, publishing steadily for a couple of years. Persons of words in this part of the world, or anywhere else, go ahead and submit your creative writing.
We, The Bombay Review, are also always open to reading your work, publishing your work, and commending your work. Details below.
By Team TBR
The Bombay Review Year established: 2014 Published from: New York City & Mumbai Genres: Fiction, Poetry, Essays, Art, Reviews, Interviews, Culture pieces Submission period: All year Type: Online + Print Website | Instagram | Facebook Submission fee: None Payment: upto $50 for solicited entries Editors: Kaartikeya Bajpai | Rochelle Potkar
If we have missed out any literary magazine, which we surely have, please comment below with details and we will take a look. Do note, that we are not considering literary magazines/journals which are less than 3-5 years old.
It has been almost a year since you left us alone, And here I lie on my bed recollecting our last conversation over the phone. Far away from each other, But the emotions in our hearts were the same. My own little brother, And I never knew how well he played this hiding game. During that silence, I went down memory lane. It seemed quite pleasant then, But now it pricks my heart causing a severe pain. Remember, how once in school you were dressed as a fairy Is it okay to say that your absence has now become hard to carry? These old videotapes of you with dad, Just makes me more helpless and profoundly sad. Do you know? I still send you messages on the phone. I still make coffee and listen to “Here Comes the Sun” until dawn. No one knows that I sleep with your photo under my bed, So that when you go to sleep you come to kiss me on my forehead. I guess you will never know that I still divide my Maggi into equal halves of two, And trust me. There are times; I wish I were dead instead of you.
I Was Not Born This Way
I was not born this way I know I am not unique, And my thoughts do not belong here. That is what makes me unable to speak, And people think I don’t care.
I like to be alone, I like to stay quiet, There is an unseen pain in my tone, As if each day my survival depends on a fight.
A fight not with the people, A fight not with the world, But a fight with the evil, Which on my behalf is truly undeserved.
I sometimes wonder what I have grown into, And wish for the child in me back. The child who was always happy, The child who was never sad. The child who would be probably be laughing at me, Looking at the things that I now lack.
Priyanjali Negi is a 15-year-old student from Delhi. She studies at Carmel Convent School. Her favourite poets is Alfred Tennyson and her favourite writer is Ruskin Bond.
Paranoia glared through the windows, She started melting under the heat Inch by inch, She lost pounds, sterlings, dollars. The counties were long gone, It was now time for the countries. Perhaps, Gone were the days the ice melted. It was frozen still today, The roads, the ravages, the restless pace. Crossed by a bullet would have been easier Simpler even. Wrath ran through the veins, Just as throats stopped croaking, The stomachs synced to a stop. Pouring thoughts dried up, Even the moments demanded to be unfelt. Grains had at last churned death.
The drains were pouring, Flesh, bones, blood seemed united. Borne or Born, Pinned onto a single thought. Plagued minds ruled the worlds. Twists, turns, all were straights.
Perfect lines. Dotted I’s. Traces of laced life. Dashed through the vigilance. Worn nails varnished in the pages of history. Bane? Liquor drove the healthy. Myriad magic, the sane. Trash cans lifted to tables, Torn paper traced into perfect circles. Lives un-longed for, deaths de-glorified. Demands dressed in dreams, Doused in amnesia, Arousals arrested in anarchy.
Drought was scarce, Sanguine floods crashed humanity. Fierce Fire forested in few farms. Passive lives ran out of machines. Mannerisms murdered, Streaked past Survival.
Uncouth vehemence vandalised Deep sweet darkness.
No light, no right, Not a penchant of twilight. Midnight hues were well past. Paranoia ruled Paris tonight. Her dust opened doors. Damsels had departed distress, Doom was thus ‘daughter-ed’. Dimensionless depth swept clean, Directions diverged into allegiance, All to the beats of her breath.
Subhanjali Saraswati is an 18-year-old first year undergraduate student at University of Hyderabad. She is studying Political Science. Her favourite poet is John Donne.
I feel it shift inside me, this wild, furred thing that has uncurled itself from the slumberous warmth of my belly and climbed the rungs of my ribcage to settle within my chest. For weeks it has been still, all flickering eyelids and gentle prodding, but today its eyes blink wide open, awake- silvered claws… More
You Will Never Know It has been almost a year since you left us alone,And here I lie on my bed recollecting our last conversation over the phone.Far away from each other,But the emotions in our hearts were the same. My own little brother, And I never knew how well he played this hiding game.During that silence,… More
Paranoia glared through the windows,She started melting under the heatInch by inch,She lost pounds, sterlings, dollars.The counties were long gone,It was now time for the countries.Perhaps,Gone were the days the ice melted.It was frozen still today,The roads, the ravages, the restless pace.Crossed by a bullet would have been easierSimpler even.Wrath ran through the veins,Just as… More
There goes the isolated fishermanIn his desolate wooden boat,Trying his best to be restrained fromAll the misery that poverty connotes. The sun has set,The incessant time goes.Lost in the sea of the forgotten,The abandoned fisherman rows. Maybe if it was not him,That hope had parted so badly within,He would have probably been laughing,With his beloved… More
Hope A shadow of darkness fills my gaze,As the nightly air patrols aroundThe once lovely countryside all in a haze,So deathly a silence, my heartbeats resound. The moon appears to heal my wounded soul,Emerging as a ray of hope through a gaping hole,Sending a subtle hint straight into my heart,If darkness comes, light is not… More
Glass Grows we live in a glass worldglass dolls and glass mindsgrowing out of glass junglesglass bodies cracking and greenthis glass shatters in this glowing streamof green blood and green heartsbleeding blackening greasegreen governments eyeing the glass greenand piercing glass into these bodiesthat spew their spleen of earth-shattering greenglass breaking, burning, brewingglass minds that grow… More
I sat on the muddy brown boulders,to watch the sun go down,to see the beautiful night,I felt the calmness as my hair swayed with wind,and my wings, which were collapsed earlier,rose and flapped in the wind,cutting the current with its black feathers,which came out of my wings,blew towards the setting sun.Through the cracks in the… More
Raman and Prakash were sitting on the side of NH30 brooding over the setting sun. They had left Lucknow with a meagre ₹1000 each. The last full meal they had had was three days ago when they were leaving the city. They had been surviving on biscuits and water since. Raman was a native of… More
“Congratulations! It’s a boy, Mr Rohit!” The doctor conveyed the good news to my Dad. That tall man looked quite like Iron Man with curly hair, a long nose and arched brows that seemed to make a rainbow. His delicate peach lips formed into a wide grin as I stopped crying upon seeing him. He… More
I did not have pets. I did not want any either. I had never felt any true emotional attachment with animals, especially the ones you keep as pets and tend and nurse so prudently. I had always thought that it was simply a dumb showcase of internal love because they couldn’t possibly say that they… More
It was a moonless, rainy night and I was curled up on my couch under a warm blanket, sipping a cup of steaming hot chocolate filled to the brim with fluffy marshmallows on top. I was reading The Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie which perfectly fit the mood of the evening. The… More
I. The train was scheduled for 8 in the evening so I had enough time to spend with the city which had been my home for the last six months. My bags were already packed and gathered in the middle of the room. Having informed Shankar that I was going out, I made my way… More
I live in a small city. Not geographically, of course. My universe is not all that the light touches but just about what my eyes meet. You could say that it would not be much of a task for me to easily disappear in a somewhat upper-middle-class crowd. Having a comfortable life isn’t something that… More
There goes the isolated fisherman In his desolate wooden boat, Trying his best to be restrained from All the misery that poverty connotes.
The sun has set, The incessant time goes. Lost in the sea of the forgotten, The abandoned fisherman rows.
Maybe if it was not him, That hope had parted so badly within, He would have probably been laughing, With his beloved kin.
Maybe if it was not his cup of resistance, That had been fed to the brim, Then it might not be today that he had to face The question of his existence.
Is it his mistake that he is a misfit? And to have no special light to emit, At least he tries to counterpart, Always trying to find a fresh start.
His mother did nothing but accuse That her son’s fit to do nothing, but misuse, But what sin is it to be born disabled, It’s just like a leg being separated from a table.
The world had rejected him And averted his presence, As if that was not enough, It said that tending him had no sense.
He had always been the jetsam of the ship, Nothing but a dead fish, a dead nomad. No one to lead, but hundred and one to preach the quip “To gain something, loose something my lad.”
Now the poor fisherman can take no more! If only he had been allowed to bloom, Like an eagle, he would soar, And considered his life beyond a boon.
The word is the only one to be blamed, For the poor man’s hunger and pain And finally, it made him close his eyes Never to be opened again.
Chandana. D is a 15 year old, who aspires to highlight the momentous, but often self-effacing and unnoticed segments of life through poetry. She is currently studying in grade 10 at Viswasanti High School, Vijayawada, Andhra Pradesh.