Haiku at Kalaghoda

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I am doing a haiku workshop at Mumbai’s favorite festival Kalaghoda this year.

On the 9th of Feb, from 4 pm to 6 pm at Somaiya centre at Hutatma Chowk, Mumbai. 2nd floor above Kitab Khana bookshop.

kalaghoda haiku

I’ll focus on Haiku appreciation by reading out lots of classical and contemporary haiku and then, perhaps, you can try your had at writing some.

Three lines and 17 syllables may seem simple but it is not.It is poetry but you do not have to be a poet to appreciate or even write it. You have to be a lover of life and be willing to experience the power of the present and the beauty and angst of nature and life.

It is fun to try and experiment once you understand a few basics and who knows, you may just find yourself a passion for a lifetime.

Winter issue is up

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The winter issue of World Haiku Review is up and its a very interesting issue. Besides the three pages of Haiku as usual it has a few interesting and unusual features.

4 jan 2016

A hauntingly beautiful haiku film created by Kala Ramesh.

A preview of my own cat haiku book, whispers and purrs which will be published later this month. The photos were added specially for the issue.

An unusual haibun by Anita Virgil on finding a secondhand book and what an old inscription in it revealed.

The whole story of poet Kyorai Mukai, in its complete version by Susumu Takiguchi.

And more.

Enjoy.

Publishing and self publishing workshop

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I will be doing a workshop on January 31, on publishing and self publishing for Writers Retreat, Mumbai. At Somaiya center, 11 am to 1.30 pm.

publishing posterDetails HERE

Click the poster for the Facebook page.

In two and a half hours I will deal with traditional publishing, vanity presses and self publishing – the advantages and disadvantages of them all.

Also ebooks and print books – a subject which seems to confuse a lot of people.

Writers are always complaining how difficult it is to get a publisher.

Others say, I will try for a publisher and if I don’t get one, then I will self publish. I have heard that a few times from others and let me just say – its a very bad strategy which is unlikely to bring you anything but disappointment

If you are wondering how to proceed, come on over.

Journeys 2, a haibun anthology

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My friend, Angelee Deodhar published the second volume of the Journeys series this year, with another feast of Haibun.

Haibun is an interesting form of lyrical prose interspersed by haiku and she seems to be the only one collecting the best and publishing them as books. I enjoyed the first volume which had 5 Indian poets amongst a total of 25 and we spent a happy session reading it in our haiku group.

Here is the second volume with International poets with a review by Paresh Tiwari. Click on the cover to go to the Amazon.in page.

Journeys 2 deodhar

Journeys 2015: An Anthology of International Haibun, ed., Angelee Deodhar, 255 pp., 6×9, perfect bound, from http://www.amazon.com in print and e-book formats or contact angeleedeodar@gmail.com.Price – US $ 20(Print edition) and US $ 4.99 (e-book edition)

Review – Journeys 2015
By Paresh Tiwari

In his book ‘Looking at the Overlooked’, art historian Norman Bryson talks about the distinction between Megalography and Rhopography.

Megalography, ‘is the depiction of those things in the world which are great – the legends of the gods, the battles of the heroes, the crisis of history.’ Rhopography–‘ is the depiction of those things which lack importance, the unassuming material base of life that importance constantly overlooks.’

Haibun, definitely is a hard-to-categorize genre. Is it in essence poetry or prose? Is it written from personal experience or the result of a fanciful flight in a fabulist world which is but the creation of a poet? Questions such as these, do not really matter for someone writing free form poetry, a novel or a short-story, but you write a haibun and more often than not even the practitioners of the form will ask you – ‘It’s nice, but is it really a haibun?’

And then one comes across a landmark work in English-language haibun, with unprecedented scope and focus, Journeys 2015 (The second book in the series, edited by Dr. Angelee Deodhar). The anthology celebrates the evolution of English-language haibun and in the bargain gives us a book to cherish. Featuring one hundred and forty five haibun, the anthology highlights and explores the work of twenty-five contemporary and six pioneer haibun writers. And after reading the book, I am happy to report the question remains unanswered. If there is one thing I have learnt reading the works of these magnificent poets, it has to be – It is futile to attempt to straitjacket something as sublime and as vast as haibun. Sure there are definitions (In fact the first issue of Journeys in 2014, began with a mini anthology of haibun definitions), but once you finish reading the book cover to cover, you would agree that there just might be as many definitions of haibun as there are haibun writers. And that is good news, for it means that haibun as a genre is mutating, growing, evolving and thus is here to stay.

Haibun editors across the globe have rued the fact that not enough is being done for the genre, that unlike other forms of writing there just aren’t enough good books, journals and anthologies to invite the reader in. It is in these circumstances, that Angelee Deodhar, herself a gifted haibuneer, decided to take the matter in her own hands and now for two consecutive years has given us anthologies that deserve a place of honour on your book shelf. Like a magician she knows how to pull the rabbit out of the hat – well in this case, haibun writers and their works from across the globe (a few who are no longer amongst us).
So, where to begin reviewing a book whose scope is as wide as it gets? The beginning may be as good a place as any, the book opens with a preface (by the editor), an introduction by Bob lucky, A brief history of English language haibun by Ray Rasmussen, which delves into the journey of haibun itself in a wonderful and insightful manner and moves on to Section 1, which contains work of six early adapters of haibun. The pieces in this section provide a feel for the evolution of writing in haibun style. The names in this section have been at the forefront of Japanese styles of poetry from its earliest adoptive days and yet their works vary in style content and pitch. Consider this, from ‘Santa Fe Shopping Carts’ by William J Higginson:

The occasional cart, borrowed temporarily to wheel groceries, ends up in a nearby arroyo, where its baby seat becomes the base for a birds-nest. When the rainy season hits, midsummer, the cart sinks into the silt and catches debris, thus ensuring its permanent place in the landscape.

summer storm
a shopping cart rolls past
the end of the lot

Unlike most of the haibun being written today, this piece is quite long and equally fascinating in the way it takes the help of anthropomorphism, to give us a glimpse of the life and death of shopping carts. An unusual subject for a haiku pioneer, I must say. But the haibun so subtly creates a parallel with our lives that it all just falls into place beautifully, especially when punctuated by Higginson’s usual brilliant haiku.

Each author, in the book has been given space for five haibun and Harriot West’s pieces easily become some of my favourites. Harriot has an unparalleled way with minimalism.She is also a great story teller and uses, each element of this delicate genre to its full potential. Her works are short, but they touch the right chord and each word somehow feels as if it belongs in the exact space that it has been put into. In the space of her five works, she muses on longing, talks about the apathy that most families are capable of, and a whole range of other emotions.

Consider this haibun by her:

Empty Spaces

We’re drinking orange juice. Not fresh squeezed but from a can. It’s slightly bitter with a metallic taste. But father doesn’t mind. He’s having his Kentucky style – with a splash of bourbon and a sigh from mother. As a treat for me, he is making scrapple, cornmeal mush with greasy sausage. I love it but what I love most is father cooking. For me. And I love watching mother push the scrapple around her plate. She barely eats a bite.

cabin in winter
the floorboards too
have pulled away

Or, on a totally different scale and feel, and brimming with otherness, is another of my favourites from the book, by Peter Butler.

Instructing Mona Lisa

Relax, Lisa. Not quite facing me, more a half-glance. Nails clean? Then hands on lap, right over left. As to expression, no laughing please without your teeth. Lips together.

Now imagine yourself in a post-coital situation – not with me, of course, nor necessarily your husband.

That is perfect, Lisa. Hold it if you can, several hundred years.

gallery attendant
checking the time
to his next break

It is to the editor’s credit that no two works in this anthology are similar in taste, cadence or subject. At times they give you a deeper insight into a poet’s world, the places they live in, work, visit and remember, like the works by Margaret Chula, Tom Clausen, Chen-ou Liu, Stephen Henry Gill, and Ion Codrescu. At others the works are a reflection of a person’s most intimate moments, as in the works of Margaret Dornaus, John Stevenson and Terri L French. Or brim with otherness, surrealism and a need to experiment both with language and form, like the works by Alan Summers and Lee Gurga.

And yes, in case you were wondering where does a Megalographic figure in the scheme of things, all you need to do is read Mirian Sagan’s ‘A-bomb haibun’ and Nobuyuki Yuasa’s ‘Wartime Evacuation’.

As a haibun writer myself, I can say with utmost conviction that books like Journeys 2015 will play an important role in spreading the form to a wider readership. It will serve as a very good reference book too.If you are someone who frequents the Japanese short form journals, you may have read some of these works in online journals or own a print-copy where some of these works have appeared, and yet seeing all these put together with care, love and an almost eerie insight on the part of the editor, is an exciting proposition.

My recommendation? Buy the book, keep it on your bedside table and spend some leisurely time in the company of these wonderful poets.

The contributors include: Jack Cain, Vladimir Devide, Bill Higginson, Elizabeth Searle Lamb, Gary Snyder, Bob Spiess, Peter Butler, Marjorie Buettner, Steven Carter, Margaret Chula, Tom Clausen, Ion Codrescu, Margaret Dornaus, Terri L. French, Stephen Henry Gill, Lee Gurga, Graham High, Noragh Jones, Doreen King, Chen-ou Liu, Miriam Sagan, Guy Simser, John Stevenson, Alan Summers, Sasa Vazic, Max Verhart, Diana Webb, Harriot West, Rich Youmans, Noboyuki Yuasa, John Zheng, Bob Lucky, Glenn G. Coats and Ray Rasmussen

The Cost of Self Publishing

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People are always asking me how much does it cost to self publish. Usually they are the ones who have approached scam self publishing companies and been quoted a ridiculous price.

“They said they can do it all for 75,000 rupees. That is reasonable,  right?”

Reasonable it is not.

Be careful of all the companies which prey on the innocence of writers. They just want to make a quick buck not to help you on your way.

I just put up a short story on Amazon Kindle. What did it cost me?  Here is the breakdown.

It cost me a lot in work. Writing the story. Rewriting it several times.  Editing carefully and repeatedly.

Then the cover.  I started that early and kept fiddling with it through the writing. It went through many variations and finally ended up with one I liked.

Them the formatting. An ebook requires a specific format. I just finished formatting ‘To Catch a Falling Star’ for print and that took a lot of careful work. I knew that ebook formatting is not as complicated as print and it turned out to be quite simple by comparison.

Ebooks require very minimal formatting because the pages are not fixed. You can’t use anything fancy and have to stick to the simplest.

Basically you need to use styles and remove all tabs and manual formats. Headings are needed to create the contents.

To begin the job I found a lot of books on Kindle formatting and a lot of Youtube videos. Unfortunately, many turned out to be a waste of time.  They did not get it right.

After a lot of searching and even more mistakes it turned out to be simpler than I thought.

Then the part I dreaded – converting my Word file to mobi format for kindle.  I had tried it with my earlier book and it came out a real mess. I had no idea what to do.  Do I need a converter? How do I do it?

I kept a whole week for the conversion and it took me longer than that. Mostly because I struggling with contradictory advise.

Eventually I figured it out.  No,  you do not need to convert your file. Careful formatting in Word and saving as an htm file does the trick.

Upload it to Kindle direct and it will do the conversion.  Download it and check it on the Kindle previewer. Make your changes in the word file and upload again. I did that several times correcting small mistakes. 

It took more than the week I had kept for it. But, yes, it’s not that hard.  Anyone with patience can do it.

So my story, A Handful of Rice went up. I clicked the publish button and I was done.

What did it cost?  Those are the costs  I have detailed above.

In work – expensive.
In money – not a paisa.

Uploading is free. There is no cost if you do the work. If you don’t want to do the work then please pay only for the job and not the huge sums scam companies ask.

Paying for the tasks you need – cover, editing, formatting – it can cost a few thousand – less than ten, I think,  if you get someone to do the work for you.  If you do it yourself – which prolific writers are doing – then the cost is zero. None of the self publishing platforms like Kindle require you to pay.  Uploading your book if free and you get paid for every copy sold.

Would I recommend self publishing to others? Yes I definately would. It was worth the effort to see my book go up in just a few hours. More than worth it.

My advise – give it a shot.  It’s not as hard as it seems.

Available now

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My short story, A Handful of Rice, is now online and available on Amazon as an ebook, and, if you are a Kindle Unlimited subscriber, you can borrow it and read it for free. You do not need a Kindle to read it. You can download the free Kindle app on any smart phone or tablet.

 

Handfulofrice - small

I enjoyed putting up this story and I will blog in more detail about the experience. What I enjoyed most was doing it all myself. I painted the cover, did the editing – several times – figured out the formatting and yes, that took me the longest time to figure out. My initial attempts were a big mess. I followed some books and they were all wrong. Then I found some which told me just what to do and  finally it began to fall into place.

 

Available on all the Amazon stores.

Amazon.in

Amazon.com

A lot of work has gone into this one short story. The cover took me the longest and formatting was the toughest. Uploading it was not hard at all but required many attempts and many small corrections. Very time taking but ultimately very satisfying.

My digital bookshelf is filling up and that is a beautiful sight to see.

I plan to do a series on my experiences of publishing and self publishing in India on this blog. If you are interested subscribe or check again soon.

Do you like this cover?

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I am putting up a short story this week, as an ebook on kindle. Its a new take on an old mythological tale. I had fun doing it all – the cover, editing and formatting and should be able to upload this week.

A Handful of Rice

handful of rice - web

 

 

 

Do you like this cover?

 

Submissions for the Winter issue

Submissions are now open for the Winter issue of World Haiku Review.

whr-small

 

The themes are Peace and Winter, but they are only guidelines and you do not necessarily have to follow them.

The Deadline is Sunday, 20 December, 2015.

Please send in your best – make sure it is not published elsewhere and please read the guidelines carefully HERE.

Look forward to reading your work.

 

The Before and the After

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How much difference just a few years can make.

There’s a Before E-Books and After E-Books, a BEB and a AEB. In the world of writing and publishing everything has changed and having lunch with a publisher brought it home to me very sharply. Everything we ever took for granted is either changing beyond recognition or vanishing entirely.

Perhaps publishers have been hit the most. They complain that all the channels of the long standing publishing business, diligently constructed over many decades, are coming apart and vanishing.

The publisher model required distributors and book shops. Today distributors are going out of business and bookshops – what can I say? Some of my favourite places to hang out with books and a coffee are no more than memories. And it’s the same all over the world.

Old systems are going down, new ones are coming up. The e-book field is still young but it’s beginning to grow.

Publishers have, perhaps, been hit the hardest and especially the dedicated smaller publishers. For them it’s becoming unsustainable. Costs are spiralling in the creation of a print book. There is less and less shelf space every year. When a book shop closes there seems nothing to replace it. Online markets, from what I hear, are harder for publishers to crack while being easier for authors.

I am not complaining. I love this new Kali yuga when all the established systems go down and new and far more open ones emerge. I like being able to do it myself. I like being able to take my book straight to the readers.

And, no, let’s set one misconception to rest. It does not cost you thousands to put up an e-book. You pay if you ask someone to edit or format or do a cover for you. This is no different from asking a carpenter to fix a chair, or an electrician to repair your meter box. You only pay for the work, that is all and the sums involved are not huge. You don’t even have to pay if you can’t afford it. If you do all the work yourself it will not cost you one paisa. Do your own cover, editing and formatting and put it up for free.

It will cost you if you want a book printed out. A print book needs upfront money to pay for the paper and designing and the printing and shipping.

An e-book requires very little to no money, but lots of patience and dedication and perhaps those are harder to get.

Which creates a problem for publishers. Where do they stand if authors are going direct to the market?

They will have to evolve into something new or they will have to close shop. And it’s not easy. Most of them don’t understand the new AEB world, are scared of the Internet and really don’t grasp the power of social media or the increasingly sophisticated world of independent authors where the rules have changed so profoundly that it’s not even the same species any more.

For me, it’s a good time. It’s been just over a month since I put up To Catch a Falling Star, and I am formatting a short story to upload and half way through writing the next book. I haven’t even got the accounts yet but this is the fast lane. And this is AEB, the new world of publishing, putting out its first few flowers into a fresh, never before, summer.

To Catch a Falling Star

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Finally published.

My first ebook is up. To Catch a Falling Star went up as a ebook online.

24 stories, 14 articles on writing. Notes on all the stories, some of which are published and many unpublished. Do take a look.

edited kindle - small

Its taken me seven months to get this book online but its taken me several years to see self publishing as a viable option and learn what it is like. The seven months is nothing compared to what a publisher would take. It taken me longer since I was feeling my way, trying to find a path and had very little idea of what I was doing.

And there were all those people who told me self publishing is best avoided. Their voices have faded of late and with very good reason. More and more writers are now looking at self publishing as their first option.

And it has been delightful. Fully in my control. My own schedule to tweak as I need. No one to tell me you cant write this, change that. My own cover, my own editing. But a professional company to upload it.

Yes, I definitely recommend it to everyone. Do not wait for anyone’s approval. Do it yourself at your own comfortable pace.

So now here it is. Finally online. Another chapter in the writing journey begins.

Amazon.in

Amazon.com

Amazon.uk

Kobo

ibooks

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