Poet, Author, Editor, Creative Writing Consultant

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Praise for my editing skills 3 - Piyush Rohankar


            You were referred to me by a common friend of ours who gave very good review about your style of working and editing. So I decided to avail your services and true to the review I got about you I too had a wonderful experience working under your guidance. Your schedule for editing was very time bound. The clarification asked for was duly addressed and the editing of the novel was good. Moreover I got to learn quite a few things about presentation, Grammar, structuring of sentences and paragraphs. Thank you ma'am for all your patient help and guidance and all the insight into editing. It was a wonderful learning experience for me. I admire your professional and friendly approach to work. I hope I get an opportunity to work under your guidance in near future again.

Thank you, Piyush!

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Trainstorm-An Anthology of Alternative Train Poetry- a Review

Trainstorm-An Anthology of Alternative Train Poetry
Ed. Dr. Amitabh Mitra

The Poets Printery, East London, South Africa
Date of publication: October 2016
Pages: 174
Price: Rs. 475/-
ISBN:  0620718307
ISBN 13: 978-0620718301
Available here: http://www.amazon.in/Trainstorm-Edited-Amitabh-Mitra/dp/0620718307

‘Trainstorm-An Anthology of Alternative Train Poetry’ is called ‘alternative’ because it is about the journeys that we take through our minds and our lives, linked somehow with the train journeys.

With 50 poets and 80 poems, this anthology titled ‘Trainstorm’, edited by Dr. Amitabh Mitra, chugs through our lives, bringing back memories of train travel, recent and past, forging a link between the poems and our own experiences. 

Alberto Russo’s poem ‘Choo-Choo Boy’ aptly connects the older man he is talking about to his childhood.

Usha Kishore talks of a ‘platform of long ago/crowded with thoughts’ in her poem ‘Pettah’, in ‘Railgadi’ she is ‘Flying across time like an arrow,/ across plains and hills, across singing/rivers poured into the silk of memory.

Nibedita Sen’s ‘Delhi’ is along poem, divided into different sections, very much like a train. She defines The Delhi Metro. ‘On a super-fast serpentine track it wheels/Towards an enigmatic destination…’

Lynda G. Bullerwell has a beautiful poem titled ‘Ghost Train’ where she asks us to ‘Take the slow train to reality because there is no colder place/where you cannot dream letters into sand and share words/with strangers…’

 In ‘Train Ride’, R.K. Biswas’ poem, we come across how being ‘wedged between sweaty knees/rustling buttocks in synthetic saris’ on a train can lead to desperate measures.

With diverse poets writing of their train journeys, through different lands, stopping at different places, at different points of their lives, this anthology also preserves a form of travel which is still popular but may soon disappear in the years that come. Horse carriages are things of the past and trains may follow. But till this happens, the joy of a train ride is an experience to remember. The poets in this anthology help us believe this.

The anthology is brought to life with the black and white photographs taken by Dr. Amitabh Mitra of trains and platforms and railway tracks and the fleeting countryside. This coffee table book has a beautiful painting done by Dr. Amitabh Mitra as its cover of a train coming at us, riding through a storm.

Monday, December 19, 2016

Review by James Goddard on Goodreads of The Gourd Seller and Other Stories-December 19th 2016


When writers write novels, they have all the space they need to delineate their settings, to allow their characters to grow, and to explore issues away from the core plot that they think might enhance the readers’ understanding and enjoyment of the story. A novel is usually at least 60,000 words in length, and usually much more. I know this from my own reading, and from my attempts to write novels—two of which currently stand at more than 100,000 words.
To my mind, writing short stories—not novelettes, not novellas, but true short stories of, say 7,500 words or less—is a more difficult craft than novel writing. Short stories demand discipline of a writer, they demand clarity of thought, and, perhaps most difficult of all, they demand the ability to be economical with words. A writer of short stories must be able to differentiate that which is essential to a story from that which would be nice to include---if only there was the space. The shorter a short story is to be, the more the writer must bring these things into play. This, I feel necessary, preamble brings me to Abha Iyengar’s slim collection of eight stories, ‘The Gourd Seller and other stories’ (Kitaab, 2015).
Frequently dealing with difficult themes, such as sexual assault and the buying of silence, as in ‘The High Stool’, mental cruelty and the unwanted attention of a grandfather, as in ‘A Family of Beauties’, and the role of women in Indian society, it is to the author’s credit that the stories never become maudlin or angst filled diatribes, Abha Iyengar’s abilities as a writer are too deft and well controlled to allow that to happen. What she succeeds in doing, is to allow us, as onlookers, to feel what her characters are feeling, to understand the emotional turmoil that sometimes reveals itself within them, and, often, to admire their tenacity in finding ways to improve their lives.
The clarity of Iyengar’s prose manifests itself on every page of ‘The Gourd Seller and other stories’. We come across well-honed sentences and descriptions that delight, such as this, from the story ‘Drought Country’: ‘Mother is stiff, austere; she does not speak much and her eyes soften only sometimes, when a stray thought enters her mind or she hears an old song on the radio.’ Which of us could fail, even though there is nothing in the way of a physical description, to have an image of this old lady in our minds?
So it is with Abha Iyengar’s stories, some are beautifully jewel-like, other’s, because of their grim subject matter, are finely-crafted artefacts. All of them, however, are works of art that are testimony to the power words can have, to shock, inform and entertain, when used by a real artist.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Review of The Gourd seller and Other Stories at Earthen Lamp Journal by

Review of The Gourd seller and Other Stories at earthen Lamp Journal by Sushmita Sridhar



Monday, July 18, 2016


Hello Abha,
To be honest I was a little reluctant, in sending you a recommendation, because I have never written one, and I am no mood to write a formal brief, therefore consider the below words as a recommendation or comments or in whichever way you may wish too.
I wrote this novel  with a thrust to establish myself as a writer and to prove a point to myself, therefore I had been very clear to bring out the best in an possible way and you did exactly the same, you took it as a challenge to clean and edit the manuscript  and  appreciate you for doing the same. I wrote this novel with a crunch of sexism involved and I really wanted it to stay, when I had a word with you I could sense a strong feminine voice which made me a little reluctant as would you be able to justice to my writing or not but thankfully you did not let your personality overshadow the character that I was trying to build which proves your professional mind frame which for sure deserves cheers. 
You completed the assigned task well before time and with sheer dedication, which is clearly evident in the manuscript, also your habit of detailing  and other creative ways of pointing out errors was an add on.
If was to rank the entire process I would give 5 out of 5, it couldn’t have been better.
I wish you all the very best for future endeavors and I hope we get to work together again.


D. H.

D.H. is the author of a contemporary romance novel awaiting publication.

The Vegetarian-Book review-on Goodreads

The Vegetarian is a deceptively simple book, but very complex in what it tries to convey. Nothing is laid out on a platter and the reader has to try and figure out what it is that is driving the main characters to do what they do. It indicates that the lives we lead are difficult to understand, and why we behave the way we do even more so. A married South Korean woman suddenly stops eating meat. Since almost all South Korean cooking involves and includes meats of various kinds, this puts her husband and her embarrassed family into a quandary, and then of course, they try to pressure her into eating meat. she does not even cook it, touch it. We also see how interwoven the family connections are, for it is not only her story, but also the story of her sister and brother in law, and the story of the world in a way, and how what we consider normal life is just a thread away from disintegration. I won't let on more, for it would spoil the reading of the book, which I do recommend. in very simple language, the author leads us along a path that is frightening in its reality. The translator has done an excellent job. there is an element of the surreal in the book, so if you don't enjoy that kind of writing, it may not appeal to you. For me, it was amazing how well the author writes. I would recommend this book wholly. needless to say, it's the Booker prize winner for 2016.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Speech as Guest of Honour at book launch of ‘Sargam Tuned’

Speech as Guest of Honour at book launch of  ‘Sargam Tuned’ a MULTI-LINGUAL anthology published by Writer’s Club on 10th July 2016 at IIC.

{Fellow panelists: Shri Laxmi Shankar Bajpai as Chief Guest, Shri Ashok Madhup, Shri Ratan Sadh, and Mr. Pawan Jain of Aagman}

Dear friends and fellow poets,
It gives me great pleasure to be here. My thanks to Mr. Pawan Jain, Aagaman Group, for inviting me as Guest of Honour for this event.

The launch to take place today is of a multi-lingual anthology of poems titled Sargam Tuned, edited by Amrit Raj and Ruchi Khandelwal, young poets and members of Writer’s Club. I am sure this must be making each participating poet very proud of their achievement and rightly so. It is by taking small steps that we move towards what we want to achieve. it is also a wonderful step taken by Writer's Club to bring into being an anthology that includes some of the languages of India, and English too.

I can say the you are a in a good space right now because you have a platform like this, and others, and the availability of social media networking that enables you to put together your poems, get them heard and get them published. when I was your age, there were no such avenues, and poems sent to the few literary magazines often went unaddressed. in fact, my poems were selected by kamala Das for Femina, at a time when she was poetry editor for the magazine, but I only got to know of my poems being published in the magazine by a third party. I had to bring this to the magazine's notice, and then they acknowledged it and also gave me a small payment for the publication. But this was just chance that let me know of the publication, otherwise I would have considered my poems worthless perhaps. Now, you have the means to get  published, there are many avenues, and you must take full advantage of this. 

But, you must read a number of poems and poets, for as Shri bajpai has said, we must not forget the traditional methods of writing poetry in our attempts to move into the free verse phase.

What can I say about poetry? A wiki definition says that poetry is a literary work in which the expression of feelings and ideas is given intensity by the use of distinctive style and rhythm. Another definition: A poem makes intense use of language, which results in a far greater concentration of meaning than is commonly found in prose.

So basically, a few words which carry INTENSE meaning. It calls for ‘Verbal melody and artistic rhyme’.

When we start out as amateur poets, often at a very young age because we are experiencing this plethora of feelings, our poems will be raw, full of feeling. As we become better and more experienced poets, our poems gain not only because of our experience, but also because of our greater exposure to poetry and our work become more layered, more concrete and more structured. This is a process like any other in writing. Yet, our poems will connect only through the intensity.

I believe poetry begins from a place of pain. That is what drives it forward. Because, if we have a smooth, and often uneventful life, our poems will be just that, light and full of froth. Poems gather depth through the telling of a pain. This pain is an individual and collective pain of humanity, it is both. And through this sharing we can experience/taste each other’s soul for the lines are from the heart and soul more so than the head. Poetry is beauty, sadness, pain, hope, glory, defeat and all else that we spill into it, and all that we read into it.

Poetry is not a use of big words or the glorification of a feeling. It should not be cut up and analysed in order to be understood. When poetry is an honest expression of the heart, it will be read and heard and it will be understood.

I would like to read a couple of my poems, both in English and in Hindi

Blue ink should spread your blood on the page
Just flow and age
Let it make no sense,
Life is nonsensical.
Red blood will die within your veins,
if kept in chains.
Blue ink spreads for eternity.

Song of Love
I don't know when he'll return
I never know where he's been
All I know, I'm his Bulbul
Singing his song of love.
I woke up to the song of love
I heard it in my dreams
I'm listening to this song all day

And cannot have enough.
The mind fills with his music
The body strums his song
This taste of love I experience

This taste cannot be wrong.
I close my eyes and listen
With beating heart I hear him
His song of love flows on and on

and asks if I can feel him.

 The Hindi Poems: 

All works © Abha Iyengar, 10th July 2016

I am happy to say that I received a resounding applause for my poems. And I was honoured to be in the presence of a great poet like Shri Laxmi Shankar Bajpai.