Tag Archives: writing

Tues. September 16 – Words Without Borders

13 Sep

Hello Dear Friends,

I am pleased to be featured in a reading this Tuesday, September 16th – a Bookend event in the Brooklyn Book Festival.  Hosted by Words Without Borders  an organization dedicated to publishing, and promoting works in translation to English readers, I’ll be reading a beautiful short story translated to English taken from their September issue.

September 16th, 7pm Brooklyn NY

September 16th, 7pm Brooklyn NY

“Did you know that literature in other languages makes up only 2-3% of English language publishers’ output?”  This BBC article describes the issue and looks at why there is such a poor rate of translating works into English.

The author writes, “Literature – fiction especially – offers a crucial window into the lives of others, promoting empathy and understanding in a way that traveling somewhere rarely does. By not translating more widely, publishers are denying us greater exposure to one of reading’s most vital functions.”

Recently on FaceBook, there was a “chain post” where people are asked to list 10 books that had an impact on their lives.

I challenge you to post 3 books, that were translated to English from another language, that have had an impact on you.  Let’s pay attention to how important translated works are.

Then, come to the reading this Tuesday and meet folks who are interested in making literature as rich and interesting as possible. Hear wonderful works from authors you might not have had a chance to know about otherwise.
… And say hi to ME!

Reading is Fundamental

Reading is Fundamental

Can’t make it?
Bookmark Words Without Border’s webpage and read their monthly magazine.  To date they’ve published over 1,700 pieces from 124 countries and 101 languages.

Hope to see you soon!

Event RSVP: http://www.eventbrite.com/e/writing-exile-tickets-12741986625?utm_campaign=new_eventv2&utm_medium=email&utm_source=eb_email&utm_term=eventurl_text

Brooklyn Book Festival: http://www.brooklynbookfestival.org/bookend-events/writing-exile

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History as Territory

1 Jul
image by Luba Lukova

image by Luba Lukova

 

 

 

 
I went to a wonderful talk last night organized by the Grassroots Global Justice Alliance on reclaiming feminisms at the grassroots.  The inspirational speaker, Sandra Moran, spoke about planting.  The first part of creating something new is developing an idea, planting a seed.  To do that, you must reclaim what is yours and decide that territory will be where something new can grow.

She mentioned 5 types of “territory”:
1. Your body; 2. Land; 3. Nature; 4. History; 5. Memory

This past year, I’ve been deeply engaged in reclaiming my territories of history and memory, and I’ve done that through writing and reading.  As I continue to revise my play, Tree of Seeds, I’m continually uncovering new connections to my Parsi history, especially that of Parsi women.  This article in particular, about Indian suffragettes in England, struck a chord with me. The first play I wrote (and produced in the 4th grade) told the story of a suffragette who organizes women to march for their rights, and is ultimately killed.

https://i0.wp.com/fwsablog.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2013/12/001489-Asian-suffragettes.jpg

Women’s Coronation Procession, 17 June 1911, courtesy of the Museum of London

 

 

Knowing the history of my people, makes my art more relevant and vibrant. As I reclaim this territory for myself, I can populate it with new knowledge, resonance, and meaning.

 

 

What task, what activity could help you to reclaim one of these territories for yourself?  It doesn’t have to be something public, but the simple act of doing something new will lead to regeneration and new revitalization.

 

Remember that? I'm going for another one!

Remember that? I’m going for another one, in a sari!

 

 

This year I’ve decided to write as much as I can.  I’ve started a novel and a TV pilot.

 

T.V. writing is leading me to fun and whimsy.

 
Yes, my TV pilot is about an undocumented teen growing up in Queens, but it is a half hour sit-com filled with humor and a light touch to explore a heavy reality.  I’m learning to go with the joy of using my mind and writing what comes.

The novel writing is the most personal writing I’ve done in my life and is giving me insights into how I see the world, how I see my own story.  I am looking at hurtful memories, crying while I write, and then writing some more.

So what might you want to reclaim for yourself? Which territory do you need to access and repopulate with your own power and brilliance?  Start something, use the talents you have, it will undoubtedly lead to a bigger and more hopeful world!

New Day (Now Rouz), New Waves

19 Mar

Happy Spring! — Nowrouz Mubarak!

For those of you who have been thrashed around by the waves of winter, do not despair! The shore is near.

Spring Shoots

This winter, my experience of being in the world has felt like one of a sea lamprey attached to the fin of some great whale.  Yes, I get food, great soul-enriching sustenance from doing what I was born to do, but the ride is not an easy one.

I have been dragged down to the unmoving depths of the ocean where the pressure felt like my skull would cave in.  From this a single seed emerged! I completely rewrote my latest play, Tree of Seeds.

The reading in London, this past December, brought with it the opportunity connect with theater community outside of NYC, and to hear the words come alive.  It also submerged me into the world of this story and forced me to rework it furiously.

The postcard for my play

The postcard for Tree of Seeds

Small bubbles of air are rising up from that place and the latest version will have a staged reading at Queens College on May 15th.  Rewrites are still coming but the form will be brand new!

Come see it. (Literary agents and producing theaters wanted!)
Alternatively, I was being slapped and flapped about on the surface of the sea.

Just when the Afghan radio drama (One Village, A Thousand Voices)  I helped create for the U.S. Institute for Peace was getting a little international notice, it was also scrambling for funding and put on hold. We’re back now, temporarily.  OVATV HeaderChallenges appeared and plans evaporated.

The one thing I could figure out to do in this time was to be around other writers, artists, and social change-makers. In fact, it was a great contradiction to the chaos around me to have a few places to safely land and be myself. I joined a wonderful memoir and autobiographical fiction writing workshop at the Asian American Writer’s Workshop which has inspired me to write some short stories, which might end up as a novel!

I’ve found that writers and artists need to create spaces for themselves (duh!). For me, it isn’t about networking or getting in the right circles but about having a place for my work to grow within a thoughtful and creative community.

Day 1-3 (29a)

C’mon guys, let’s get together.

Moving away from a competition-based paradigm, working for financial confirmation of my work’s value, to one of camaraderie and closeness confirms the old adage, “another world is possible”.

In fact, the ladder climbing aspect of the work doesn’t even feel as important because my vision isn’t focused on riding a wave of popularity but on the expansive possibilities in building relationships and dreaming with other human beings.

It is not the rumbling ocean but the shore ahead.

This spring, may the waves of chaos bring you in sight of your own safe place, whose fertile terrain you already have the map for.

Love,
Kayhandokht (My full given name. It means daughter of the universe.)

Circles

20 Jun

I haven’t written an update for months. I’ve wanted to, but every time I sat down to share a thought, or an observation, I was acutely aware that something was incomplete. And so, I said to myself, why offer a fleeting, shredded little thing when you can gather up your thoughts for something substantial? Little did I know, that the substantial is made from the tattered bits and pieces.

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Fresh catch.

 

 

Some of what I learned was really to appreciate myself, my mind, my smarts.   I started to notice the little inner voices that would tell me I couldn’t, I shouldn’t, it will never work.  But reality was filled with space, room for me to do exactly what I dreamed up.  That contradiction, between outside and inside my head, was just what I needed in order to recognize and silence those voices of doubt. 

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Through living as fully as I could, I was offered pieces of myself – pieces that peer back at me as I peer at them, initiating an act of uncovering.  It makes me think of revelation not as some passive gift that is offered from on high, but an endeavor that has to be initiated and carried out. Revelation comes when you push the limitations of your own mind, a new world is revealed as old thinking is moved aside and deeper knowledge is allowed in.

 

This work doesn’t necessarily need stillness and quiet – it can come through lots of interaction, stimulation and, sometimes, from being in a totally different context.  Though I suppose part of the work of reflecting is just that, recognizing your own mind amid a great deal of information. Recognizing how you see, how you get in the way of seeing and how you fit within a larger picture.  I am grateful to have had 8 months to hone the art of seeing, and to gain an appreciation of my place in this world.

ImageI am grateful to all the people who offered me kindness, sweetness, great food, and a a bit of their perspective on the world.  I look forward to completing my play, having it produced, to writing for other projects in India, and to running theater trainings and community projects in the U.S.  I’ll be MCing the Women in Islam awards this month in NYC, I’ll be in Little Rock, Arkansas next month, and I’ll be back in India come September to offer support to an International school in Bombay on their arts programs and curriculum.  So, the story continues.  Thanks for reading and let’s catch up sometime.