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Sunday, December 4, 2011

CLRI 2/7 December 2011

Editor's Line

The Power that Media Reigns
Recently an iconic news maker News Corp was in the news for not a good reason though.  The media mogul Rupert Murdoch is accused of being involved in the phone-hacking scandal which brought down the head of the goddess of freedom to expression. Murdoch and Co. are accused of hacking phones of many biggies in the government and outside as well in the United Kingdom and other countries which brought the fact that the media group has become so influential that it had a strong say in government forming that goes beyond reporting the facts of current happenings around the world to the fore.

This initiated a discussion that whether the media houses can reign such an influence in every country. With the fact that some years back Rupert Murdoch of News Corp was trying to buy The Times of India an English daily which has the largest circulation in the world, the fear grows more whether the same media could influence the Indian society in a similar way. Or whether the media in India too can have such a strong say in government forming.

But this does not seem to be possible in India. Western society is singular in many respects, while Indian society is plural and that the traditions and cultures in India are overlapping. An immigrant in the United States starts imitating the lifestyle of Americans and becomes easily identifiable with American society and its culture, Sunny Leone and the like are its examples. Uniformity moulds the society. It is therefore easy to create a world of certain thought, while meeting the demand of the people in the long run. And the thought process switches; the thought of the media becomes the thought of the people.

While in India a new community emerges out very often and starts voicing for its own identity and rights, a sub-community from a community and a sub-culture from a culture, which leads to the shaping of the identity of a new thought, ideology, and requirement. Dozens of castes (read community) came out from four main castes, these dozens of castes further gave birth to many sub-castes. Now there are thousands of castes in India. Typically these castes keep on multiplying and many merge up with others. So if you keep hold on some castes for a period, you may lose control over the same castes as they would have divided themselves into further hundreds or many might have merged and vanished after some time. So it is not possible to keep on meeting the demand of a community for a long period. Therefore it is difficult to dent the Indian society towards a certain idea and hold it for too long because the demand of the people varies over a period of time.

The Western society is largely sliced between overt ideologies, whereas Indian society is an accumulation of various covert ideologies, which is evident in the post coalition system of political society.

No single media house in India can satisfy the need of the entire Indian population, as they do not have a uniform requirement. A media house meeting the requirement of a community may not be as famous among other communities. For example, The Times of India is the single largest selling English daily, its Hindi version Navbharat Times is far behind its counterparts, Dainik Bhaskar and Dainik Jagran on the other hand. This means that the same reporting ideology of English newspaper does not and cannot work for the readers who prefer Hindi as their language. Importantly newspapers and magazines in regional languages meet the requirement of the regions better than those media houses which are national in nature. Away from regional concern means away from the concern of the people, and away from their reach.

Nevertheless we cannot write off the indirect influence of the media, both print and television, on the people. There are many examples when media’s pursuance have proved to be too influential and brought good results. The cases of Jesica Lal, Rathor scandal, Nupur murder and many others might have been settled in a different way but the pursuance of the media ensures justice to a good level. Some years back a boy, named Prince, fell in a well and the media owes the credit to have moved the government to rescue the boy who was brought alive from the well. Otherwise it is difficult to think that the government could have made such efforts to save a child of no power. The movement of Anna Hazare against corruption got a strong momentum only with the support of media which broadcasts all the happenings live round the clock when Anna is on fast unto death.

CLRI Reviews November 2011 Released
CLRI Reviews November 2011 issue is out now. This issue includes reviews and new releases.

Send your releases, we will include them in the next issue.

Contemporary Literary Review: India Print Version
Contemporary Literary Review: India (CLRI) is to bring out its most awaited annual print version for the first time in January 2012. Though CLRI has planned to bring out the print, Kindle, Nook and Pothi editions quarterly beginning January 2012, this print edition January 2012 will be the first issue.

The CLRI print version will include selected materials published with CLRI online the last year, 2010. In addition to the already published materials, CLRI print version will include some previously unpublished materials—unique to it—arts, models photographs, and editing suggestions such as how to edit creative writings to improve them, a very new concept for a literary journal.

We seek your best submission for the print version of CLRI, in addition to submission for CLRI online.

CLRI also wants to publish two photos of two models—one male and second female—in its center stage. The models should be media virgin, the models should not have appeared in any type of media including print journals/magazines, Web site, online portals, blogs or any other public domain till January 2012. The photographs should have exotic background, sensual representation of the models, aesthetic beauty, and arts. But no nude pictures please!

For other submission, please visit our Web site: Contemporary Literary Review: India

Book your issue now!

Pushcart Award Nominees Announcement
Contemporary Literary Review: India will soon announce its Pushcart Award nominees. (However CLRI will nominate its writers only if suitable candidates are found.)

Contemporary Literary Review: India Print Version Has Got ISSN

With great pleasure we would like to share that the forthcoming print version of Contemporary Literary Review: India (CLRI) has got its ISSN number, which is ISSN 2250 - 3366. The writers whose works appear in the print version may quote the ISSN number in their publication credits. Please note this ISSN is only for the print version

Khurshid Alam,
Editor, CLRI, December 2011.

Review on Inner Pilgrimage by Nishi Sharma

Review on Inner Pilgrimage by Nishi Sharma

Inner Pilgrimage: Ten Days to a Mindful Me by Raji Lukkoor is a multidimensional spiritual journey— using Vipassana meditation—a secular tool that Raji thinks can change anyone’s life dramatically, forever. When you immerse yourself in the goose-bump arising, spiritual experiences of Inner Pilgrimage; be sure to keep your senses and sensibilities open, so you can navigate through the unpredictable sensations in your body. The description is so picturesque and captivating that you feel as if you have plunged into Raji’s sea of words and encountered a spiritual experience so deep that it feels like your own experience.

Vibrating and passionate, thrilling and incredible, Inner Pilgrimage is an inspiring tale of ten days  of Vipassana mediation that practitioners can use to expel fears, materialistic delusions, frustrations, relationship problems and many more inevitable sufferings of existence—a complete flushing of life’s ills.

Inner Pilgrimage is divided into three sections—Senses, Sensations and Sensibilities—that lay out the author’s journey of eventual self-transformation through attention to the physical sensations.

Vipassana, the quintessence of this book, was rediscovered by Gautam Buddha two-and-a-half centuries ago, and focuses on the relationship between mind and body. It is an observation-based, self-exploratory exposure to the common root of mind and body that dissolves mental impurity, resulting in a balanced mind that is filled with love and compassion.

Initially, Raji seems somewhat skeptical of becoming a hermit for ten days, away from the coziness of her home, but she remains firm. On day one, her spiritual odyssey starts with the pre-requisite teachings of Vipassana, the three jewels of Buddhism: Buddha or acknowledging enlightenment within self: dhamma or living in the present moment, and sangha or refraining from evil. She discovers the milestones of an individual’s spiritual journey including: sila or morality, samadhi or concentration, and panna or wisdom. By day two of practicing anapana or the awareness of the natural breath, the author experiences an “Aha“ moment during which she feels as if she is “moving effortlessly, floating, gliding in the joyous nothingness of a grand immensity that appears to stretch to infinity.”

On day four, she discovers anicca or that the true nature of sensations varies from moment to moment, Sankhara or reactions, and Adhitthana or the determination to remain motionless. Moving forward, she continuously scans her body for sensations, which emerge in the form of pain, numbness, creepy-crawly, pricking, pins-and-needle type sensations, and so on. Sensations arise; “they pass away. They arise; they pass away”--incredible sensations, larger than life!

On day seven, she learns the challenging sweep–en-masse technique, which involves scanning the whole body for sensations in one sweep, from the top of her head to the tips of her toes and then back up. She feels strong sensations across her body in the form of pressure, rippling sensations and pin-pricks. She does not react to any sensations because now she knows that this is the key to maintaining equanimity in the midst of sensations. On the final day, she learns the second half of the Vipassana practice, Metta bhavana and Dana. Metta bhavana invokes the feeling to share the purity and wisdom developed during the ten days with all beings and Dana invokes charity, generosity, or donation.

On the eleventh day, a transformed personality with a renewed vision of life, Raji is eager to go home. Come on readers, let’s jump in and accompany Raji on her journey of self-discovery and attain enlightenment.

Title: Inner Pilgrimage: Ten Days to a Mindful Me
Author: Raji Lukkoor
Publisher: THIRD EYE
ISBN: 978-81-8274-502-5
Pages: 176 pages
Price: Rs 195
Available (online):;

Reviewer's Bio: Nishi Sharma is a book review writer with CLRI.

Dreams Sculpted Masterpiece by Ramakrishna Perugu

Dreams Sculpted Masterpiece by Ramakrishna Perugu

For me
You are his revered image

Our wonderful wedlock’s
 Reverie chiseled sculpture art thou
You are the productive chapter
Of our romantic summit union of affection

You are the cardinal foot print
Among the reminiscences left behind by
The setting eye of mine countenance sky
You are the collective measure of light
Emanated from the beautiful flowery unfinished smiles
Of my past seven births

In this last leg of my life
In the scorching sun soaked desert
You are my umbrella bearer and the guardian angel
Fighting my problems for me
You are my debt chained one man army
Protecting me from the drenching tear filled clouds
You are the whirlwind of soothing smiles
He is the verve of my existence
And you are our élan’s introductory sentence

Whenever the serpent of time does molt
And the seasons gently touch the lips of the floret
When the blessed souls call on their beloved ones
In the roars of inundating oceans
The floating drops of desires on the unstable lotus leaves
Whenever they try to disturb my mind pond

I find solace and his nearness
In your pure placating smiles
And in them I recoup my wilting self- confidence

You are the extension of his life
And the present left by him for my existence
You are my life saver and my life.

Telugu Original: Perugu Ramakrishna, India
Translation by: Dr.Lanka Sivaram Prasad, India

Author’s Bio: Perugu Ramakrishna, born in Nellore, is a tax officer by profession but poetry is his first passion. He has been writing poetry in Telugu for the last 25 years and has been widely published in several e-journals including Muse India and other anthologies. His works have been translated into many other languages such as Malayalam, Tamil, Kannada, Bengali and Hindi. He has published nine books of poetry anthologies and has edited two short story anthologies. Recently a collection "Flamingo and other poems" in English is published by Monfakira, Kolkotta.

He has participated in several national and international fests including Sahithya Akademi "New Voices' at Trivandrum, International Poetry Fest of Kritya at CIIL, Mysore, SAARC festival of literature at Delhi and Agra, recently attended World Congress of Poets - 2011 at Larissa, Greece and got Exellency of Poetry Award. He is a recipient of Andhra Pradesh State Government Visista Kavi Puraskaram from CM Dr.YSR-2008 among others.

He can be reached at:

The Ravine by Jim Wungramyao Kasom

The Ravine (A Story) by Jim Wungramyao Kasom

There was silence everywhere except for the clattering door, left ajar and wind hustling on it. The room had a dingy smell of urine. The shutters were closed and the wind was playing on it. Dust-smeared panes would have reflected the sunbeams from entering the room, but there was no sun and it made it darker. The room was stuffy and had not been aerated for days but that didn’t bother the old woman in her death bed. Every short interval, she coughed her lungs out and her voice echoed empty beyond the walls of her shabby room.

“I hate this moody weather”, she squirmed, peering out through the dark, dust-stained glasses.’ “I’ve lived enough….,” she mumbled to herself. Of pain, of joy or for unknown reasons, she mustered enough irony for a short smile. She piled a hump out of her saliva-stained pillows and sat up; her back to the wall. She groped for her walking staff as her memory flashed back in pieces. A sense of urgency crept into her. She melted down and wept.

She stood on her feet tremulously and fumbled the knob of the door. The door flunked open with another dry creaking noise and fresh air whooshed into the room, flapping among some books and creating waves over the frames on the wall. She saw few familiar faces among those pictures but she had too little memory left for sound judgment. The light beaming in from the door was of little help for her eyes were failing her. For reason no other than age, tears burst down her shriveled cheeks and blurred her vision for worst.

She scooped some water over her face and splattered unintentionally over her grayed hair. She swooped over the wilted creeper and sloshed some water and murmured, “o poor, did I forget you”. She spat on the floor missing the spittoon. Her room was all but a mess.

“Breakfast grandma” a boy came in with a cup of milk and some biscuit on a server. Slamming the door behind him he rushed out into the corridor adjoining the verandah.

“Hey! You, Come back over here” quaked the old woman in her shrunken- short breathe voice. “A stranger in my house! Abomination!” she mumbled ruminatively, sipping over the cup of milk. “Ah! I’ve not tasted milk for a while now. Living on other diet?” she asked herself. Fumbling the handle, she took a sip wishfully. “Good milk. Good fellow. That boy, a lovely child” she thought over, but she had forgotten his look.

The sun had come up by the time she’d had her breakfast. Putting another shirt over the other and flinging a cloak over another, she was bulged as a hen. Dressed heavy as she was, she moved slowly, and with just enough energy in her to slam the door behind. “O’ what a lovely day!” she said, watching the sun from her backyard.

“Boy, Which way is the ravine?” she asked the same boy mistaken for another boy. “Lovely boy” she mumbled again. A wisp of dust trailed along her tramping footsteps. “Lady you got chickens to look after. Feed well”, she walked past, kindly responding with a smile for a smile.

“How do you feel today?” the young lady enquired with great concern.

“I’m fine! But do I happen to know you?” she enquired, with no tint of arrogance in her voice. There was no reply.

The sun had broken the misty veils when she walked up the slanting road. The sun was hot on her. Undressing a shawl from her neck she complained, “I’ve never seen such a hot day.” She would stop occasionally for breath as she climbed up the sloppy trail. “O, God! Isn’t there any concession for my age?” she complained again. Hunching over her stick she strike a quaint figure of an actor hunching over a golden stilts or lamp post; unbalanced and odd in every way. Her socks were of different colors, shoes never cared. She spoke in voice audible to herself but too loud to others. Her opinion on many matters could not be left secret or unknown.

“Lazy hooligans, don’t they have anything to do?” she had said of those young fathers standing on the pavement for some chat. When they stared back at her she would hurry away as if she had not spoken a word. And she would say, “Haven’t you seen an old woman before?” in a more boisterous tone.

The sun was high up when she forged further beyond the last house. The silence was broken by the children’s voices, churning of rice mills, every bucolic activity… and the wind was dashing hard on her insensitive face but she felt so little. She felt as if she had been cocooned in somnambulant dizziness.

Walking over the knee deep grasses she felt something mushy beneath her feet. After few mushy steps she realized that she had abandoned a shoe at her last stop. As she disappeared into the pine groove she further slowed down. With slippery needled leaf strewn everywhere it had became harder for her to balance. The smell of pine was familiar to her. Leaning her weight over a disfigured branch she choked a young sprout- tuft of needled leaves and snuffed over and over. “Old pine… You are a true friend” She said with an old smile.

Few meters from the ravine, she came to a halt. Sitting flat with her leg stretched, she watched the beauty -unfolding in her eye deep down the valley; and old trails of memories came flashing in. She saw the spiraling red-muddy road she had walked thousand times, the oak trails, the mango grooves, the corn field she had sweated all her life and the wild apple tree where she first fell in love with a man she later married. The mountains where she had watched the sun go down every evening. The valley where she had looked after her father’s loitering all came rushing in like many breath of fresh air.

“O’ where have I been all these years…how could I be…” she wept.

“Martha…my beloved daughter…o…my grandchildren… aw...”

“Grandma it’s time for lunch,” came a boy’s pitchy voice.

She arched back and recognized her grandson, standing right behind her; almost grown out of boyhood.

“Such pompous growth… you’ve grown too much.” She said. The boy just grinned stupidly.

“How long have I been here,” she asked, reaching out her hand to the boy offering help.

“Long enough… it’s time for lunch,” said the boy.

“It seems like years to me,” she said.

Too many thought came rushing in and clogged her mind and gagged her mouth. She gaped and warm tears ran down her cheeks. She stood to her feet, dried her tears and brushing off those dangling dry leaves, she lifted her eyes to the topmost firmament and only said, Thank you my Lord for the old ravine.

Author’s Bio: Jim Wungramyao Kasom has an MA Mass communication from AJK, MCRC, Jamia is a photographer by profession. He’s passionate about writing and one of his stories has appeared in Reading Hour.

This story explores the ordeal of the daily life of an alzheimer patient, who loses her memory. Jim thinks that it is but memory that makes a man meaningful and worth living.

Jim is a writer and photographer. He writes short fiction, lyrics and screenplays; is passionate about photography, travelling and getting to know places and cultures. Two of his short stories have already appeared in Reading Hour Magazine.

Three Poems by Changming Yuan

Three Poems by Changming Yuan

Man vs Woman: A Brief Sexual History
No man is perfect
Yet every man wants women to be perfect
So, their feet used to be bound
Now their faces surgically shaped and reshaped
Their eyelids doubled
Their breasts raised
Their skin ironed and chemically treated
Their subcutaneous fat removed from their bellies or waists
Their legs made longer on high-heeled shoes
Their entire bodies perfumed, clad and decorated with all fashions
As if they were full-sized dolls

Just as god made man in his image
So has man been making women after his likeness

Confession of a Police Officer
Father, I know this is not a proud thing to do
But I really enjoy hiding myself
Somewhere in a dim corner
To catch a poor guy never known to us
Changing lanes without giving a signal
Speeding a couple of kilos over the limit
Attempting a left turn under a yellow light
Or simply looking unlikable to me

You know, father, it is always safer
Always more fun and more comfortable
Always bossier, and certainly more profitable
To give a stranger guy a ticket, a handsome fine
Than to catch an evil devil , an armed robber
A cold-blooded murderer, a violent drug addict
Even a drunkard costs me more skills
More brains, more guts, more strengths

It may be a bit too cowardly, too mean or wicked
Too ruthless or mischievous on my part
I know, but we just cannot help it, father

Politicians & Public Opinion
This distorted shadow of a monster dancing widely
Or of a colossal rain cloud above the borderline between sea and sky
Constantly changing its shape and thickness
With lightning and thunder
Ready to blow or to be blown into an unseen bubble
By the whirl beaten up by another dancing monster

Author’s Bio: Changming Yuan, author of Chansons of a Chinaman (2009) and co-author of Three Poets: Voices from the West Coast (2011), is a three-time Pushcart nominee who grew up in a remote Chinese village and published several monographs before moving to Canada. Currently Yuan teaches in Vancouver and her poetry has appeared in Barrow Street, Best Canadian Poetry, BestNewPoemsOnline, London Magazine, Taj Mahal Review and nearly 380 other journals and anthologies in 16 countries.

Benares by Bruce Dodson

Benares by Bruce Dodson


Early morning
Sun comes pale pink
Out of dust horizon
Long warm days before monsoon

Stone and concrete reflect the dawn’s new light
Gold temple tops cast
Daytime stars onto this timeless river
People bathing, praying
Dugouts float past
Barely moving
Oars creak
Temple bells toll
Voices over water . . . hushed

A trail of laundrymen beat shirts, and sheets and saris
Against rocks worn smooth
So many lives ago
No one remembers
Songs and whopping
Krishna! Whop! Om Shanti! Whop! Jai Rama! Whop!

Vultures soar patiently
Without effort
Gliding above blue fog mist
Mingling with smoke from burning ghats
Along the shore
The end and the beginning.


Author’s Bio: Based in Seattle, Washington, Bruce Dodson is an artist with interests in photography, fiction and poetry. His works have appeared in journals such as Sein und Werden (UK), Kerouac's Dog Magazine (UK), Breadline Press West Coast Poetry Anthology, Blue Collar Review, Struggle, Chantarelle's Notebook #23, Pearl Literary Magazine #44, Pulsar Poetry (UK), and Centrifugal Eye. He can be reached at:

Four Poems by Gerard Beirne

Four Poems by Gerard Beirne

Spell for preventing a man for going upside down and eating feces - The Egyptian book of the Dead

Vision of the Underworld

What I detest is feces, and I will not eat it
It will not fall from my belly

It will not come near my fingers
I will not touch it with my toes

I will live on loaves of white emmer
and beer of red barley

I am a bull whose throne is provided
I will eat under the sycamore

I have flown up as a swallow
I have cackled as a goose.

What I detest I will not eat
And I detest feces, I will not eat it

I will not approach it with my hands
I will not thread on it with my feet

I have alighted on the beautiful tree
In the middle of the valley

Men will thresh for me
and men will reap.

The Song of the Sinking Soul
Fish me from the river
in the cupped palms of women.

Place me in an earthen pot
and anoint me with turmeric.

I am a stone washed in water.

The Song of the Mortal Man
Bury my spirit in the village of the rich
watch it  rise towards the heavens
a dead man turned into mist

a poor man reborn as a mealy worm
and eaten by a chicken

Meditation #40 The Meaning of this Moment
Kiss me....just once/I do... kiss you/and the meaning of this moment lies/in the show shops and slop shops and sweaters of morbid chattel slavery/where labour, sex and breeding are exchanged
for camels, trucks and guns/bought and sold/traded and inherited, branded and bred/the sweater

and the sweater’s sweater and a third and a forth and a fifth draw their profit/more hands than are wanted kept idle in case of a press of work/ a day and a half without breaking fast/the starved-out
and sweated-out tailor’s last resort/like the penny-a-liners fagging away for hours on end at coroners’

courts/ to receive the Irishman’s fortune – nothing at all/waiting for the windfall/the terrible murder
rejoicing their hearts/Don’t get me started/the thimble-riggers with their tricks of legerdemain/
the reports of shipwrecked dead-men robbed of their sodden purses/the curses of men doomed

to suffer on the scaffold waiting for the drop to fell/swept off by typhus or scarlatina/through God’s heavy judgement and visitation/in the stifling undrained hovel with the fever stricken slop worker/beggared and broken in the slack season/the ticketed garments and partakers of sin/

the guillotined victims skins tanned into breeches/I beseech you...kiss me...just once/we will open
our common shop/work and live together in the sweater’s den/sell for the lowest price /keep up
the dress of gentlemen/permit me that wayward vice/Again...kiss me/we will soon depart/the darkness

visible/the superior stock of our wayworn pairing/the unbearable coffles of our progeny/our offspring ready to die at a moment’s awful warning/kiss me.../the fading evening light/the voice bodeful
of death...of life/the chill extinction of morning/

Author’s Bio: Gerard Beirne, born in Ireland, is a Canadian citizen. He received an MFA in Creative Writing from Eastern Washington University. He is a past recipient of The Sunday Tribune/Hennessy New Irish Writer of the Year award. He was appointed Writer-in-Residence at the University of New Brunswick 2008-2009.

His collection of poetry Digging My Own Grave was published by Dedalus Press, Dublin. An earlier version won second place in the Patrick Kavanagh Poetry Award. His collection Games of Chance: A Gambler’s Manual is forthcoming form Oberon this Fall (2011).

His novel The Eskimo in the Net (Marion Boyars Publishers, London, 2003) was shortlisted for the prestigious Kerry Group Irish Fiction Award 2004 for the best book of Irish fiction and was selected by the Literary Editor of the Daily Express (England) as his book of the year “scandalously ignored by the Man Booker judges...”. His most recent novel Turtle was published by Oberon Press, 2009.

His short story Sightings of Bono was adapted into a short film featuring Bono (U2) by Parallel Productions, Ireland in 2001 and released on DVD in 2004.

Arts by Eleanor Leonne Bennett

Arts by Eleanor Leonne Bennett

1. Eleanor Leonne Bennett

2. Get Back From a Fall

Artist's Bio: Eleanor Leonne Bennett is a 15 year old photographer and artist who has won contests with National Geographic, The Woodland Trust, The World Photography Organisation, Winstons Wish, Papworth Trust, Mencap, Big Issue, Wrexham science, Fennel and Fern and Nature's Best Photography. She has had her photographs published in exhibitions and magazines across the world including the Guardian, RSPB Birds, RSPB Bird Life, Dot Dot Dash, Alabama Coast, Alabama Seaport and NG Kids Magazine (the most popular kids magazine in the world).

She was also the only person from the UK to have her work displayed in the National Geographic and Airbus run See The Bigger Picture global exhibition tour with the United Nations International Year Of Biodiversity 2010. Only visual artist published in the Taj Mahal Review June 2011. Youngest artist to be displayed in Charnwood Art's Vision 09 Exhibition and New Mill's Artlounge Dark Colours Exhibition. Website:

Five Poems by Carl Scharwath Douglas

Five Poems by Carl Scharwath Douglas

Burning Until Dawn
Disillusioned in myself:
Life smolders up one day at a time in the flares of denial. Understood and swallowed in the flames without a blink from knowing eyes. Suddenly the emptiness and the stark grey simplicity of the knowledge arrive. Living in a house eroding, that desires I am not here.
Illicit thoughts subdued in a burning sunrise.

Life mirrors a morning dewdrop, glistening, a small universe perilously cloaked on a forgotten branch evaporating into nothingness.

Hotel City Window
Early morning awakening,
when the day has a fresh grayness,
drifting across the sky.

A woman drinks from a fountain,
head sideways intersecting the flow,
sunlight washes her cheek.

Sitting at the window,
alert vengeance against the treachery
of memories, false hopes and yearnings.

A stark café, devoid in silence, awaits my gaze.
Breeding a humanity of familiarity,
alive in knowing observation of my window.

Perceiving eyes melt and set ablaze
a gauzed protective curtain.
encasing a catacomb of alienation.

Polish Winter
Alienated cold in white freezing hell we stand.
Arbeit Macht Frei gate opens to a
quixotic city of enslavement.

Fearfully the line marches and
human dignity is erased in a
single benumbing footprint.

Red rose adorns
frigid steel barbed wire
crippled clothing soaked in blood.

Facial pocket mirror reveals
dark cholera stricken hues and
emotions long neglected.

Standing cell brethren
ravenous in hunger and questions.
Turned guns recite a tide of commands.

Light taps a helmet and
dances into a goblet of inhumanity.
Block #11 stands assuming in the distance.

I feel the icy fingers of death seizing me.
Take my life I am not afraid.
How many fires must burn, before you hear me?

Night Walk Demise
Forlorn night walk
Shadows melt to
The soul, darkness

Cold breath enlightens
A path invisible
Darkness swallows me

Schizophrenic trees transform
Into street lights
Metal arms grab

Pull to illumination
Warm and secure
Demanding silent attention

Prism carbon black
My outline frozen
Moments in time

Street crossing perils
Voices, car unseen
Seconds till death

Dream like heart
Races to safety
Speed breezes avoided

Thoughts walking home
Fleeing from disaster
Doubted not felt

Destiny and outcomes
Still I exist
Fellowship of living

Author’s Bio: The Orlando Sentinel, Lake Healthy Living and Mature Lifestyles Magazines have all described Carl Scharwath as the "running poet." His interests being a father, competitive running, sprint triathlons and taekwondo (he's a 2nd degree black belt).

His work appears all over the world in publications such as Paper Wasp (Australia), Structo (The UK), Taj Mahal Review (India), Diogen Pro Kultura (Bosnia), and Abandoned Towers. He was also recently awarded “Best in Issue” in Haiku Reality Magazine. His first short story was published last July in the Birmingham Arts Journal. His favorite authors are Hermann Hesse and Edith Wharton.

Concept of Man in Sri Aurobindo’s Poetry by Jitendra Sharma

Concept of Man in Sri Aurobindo’s Poetry by Jitendra Sharma

Sri Aurobindo considered himself firstly to be a poet. His profound and spiritual outpourings of poetic inspiration chart a new course for Man, heralding the emergence of a new species of Superman. His verses describe beautifully, with an aroma of the spirituality of India, the appearance of Man on earth and the stages of evolution. He believes that man's travails, sufferings and death have a purpose in the scheme of evolution of human consciousness. Man is a transitional being constantly driven by an impulse to exceed himself and evolve towards divine consciousness, harmony and joy.

Sri Aurobindo, the most radical spiritual poet, points out rich potentialities of Man beyond normal imaginations. The poet prophetically describes the transcendence of man as the consummation of earthly evolution and the emergence of a supramental race on earth. In this illuminating doctoral thesis, the author brings out Sri Aurobindo's concept of Man in his poetry.

On ‘Savithri'

Though Malayalam poets had been prolific, there was nothing in Malayalam poetry that could measure up to the greatness of ‘Savithri,' Sri Aurobindo's epic poem, Ms. P. Valsala said. Sri Aurobindo's poetry, “was unmatched in sublimity of thought.” was comparable to the best in English literature.

Title: Concept Of Man In Sri Aurobindo's Poetry
Author: Jitendra Sharma
Publisher: Anmol Publications Pvt. Ltd., New Delhi
ISBN:  978-81-261-4932-2
Pages: 182
Price: Rs. 900
Available: Anmol Publications Pvt. Ltd.

Author’s Bio: Dr. Jitendra Sharma graduated from the Sri Aurobindo International Centre of Education, Pondicherry. As a student, he had the privilege of corresponding regularly with the Mother of Sri Aurobindo Ashram. He obtained the Master's Degree in French from Karnatak University Dharwar and had M.Phil. in French from the Central Institute of English and Foreign Languages, Hyderabad. For one year, he studied in the Stendhal University of Grenoble in France. He has contributed numerous articles to various journals and participated in more than 80 national/international Seminars, Workshops and Conferences. He heads the Department of French at St. Joseph's College, Devagiri, Calicut (Kerala) where he tries to implement Sri Aurobindo's education methodology in his teaching profession.

Courtesy: Anmol Publications Pvt. Ltd. & The Hindu.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

CLRI 2/6 November 2011

Editor's Line

An Ideology is a Cage
An ideology is a cage. When you believe in an ideology you tend to implement it. You create a cagewall around; soon you are caged in. Being caged in an ideology sometimes leads to alienating you from other ideologies and even ending up with developing a feeling of hatred towards other ideologies and beliefs and assertiveness of your ideology.

As strongly you believe in an ideology so strongly you are assertive and hate other ideologies. Communists, racists, fascists, religious fundamentalists, and Naxalites are good examples of strong believers in their ideologies whatsoever. They are caged in an ideology; they are assertive and have strong hatred towards other ideologies and beliefs. This makes them to impose their ideologies on others; they tend to impose a pan-extremist theory in the world.

When Karl Marx discussing about religion remarked, “religion is the opium of the masses”1 he meant man should want to be free from this opium. But by not believing in any religious ideology he too, though unknowingly, started to believe in agnosticism or atheism. His belief in not believing in religion was very strong, so strong that his ideology stands not short of any belief. In him this ideology was so strong that had Marx believe that man can achieve happiness only when he does not believe in a religion. “The abolition of religion as the illusory happiness of the people is required for their real happiness.” 2 Marx strongly asserted “I hate all gods” in his doctoral dissertation. Marx was caged in his ideology, he created a strong cagewall around him and so he was assertive and hated religions.

Subsequently when the communist government came to power in 1917 in the Soviet Union (the Bolshevik party under Vladimir Lenin), they used force to impose their ideology on one and all. Though they proclaimed to overthrow the age-old bourgeois rule and bring the rule of the proletariat, they started to impose their ideology on all the citizens. To make the people submit to their ideology, the communist government adopted even sternest actions killing millions of the people. According to Leonard Schapiro the Bolshevik "refusal to come to terms with the [Revolutionary] socialists, and the dispersal of the Constituent assembly, led to the logical result that revolutionary terror would now be directed, not only against traditional enemies, such as the bourgeoisie or right-wing opponents, but against anyone, be he socialist, worker, or peasant, who opposed Bolshevik rule"3.

Similarly fundamentalists of any religion are caged in because they have strong belief in their religion and want to impose it on others—both on their fellow believers and those who are outside their belief. This shows that they are too assertive and have strong hatred towards others. There are laws in many countries which are binding both on believers and non-believers alike. For example females—both Muslims and non-Muslims—are ordered to cover their faces when they come out in public in many Islamic countries whereas in France all females have to have no scarf on their faces.

Secondly, any religious terrorism is the example of assertiveness of the ideology the fundamentalists are caged in. Religious fundamentalism has given rise to terrorism. Most of the religious fundamentalists believe that by terrorizing people and the world they can make them accept their policies and implement them in order to buy peace with them. This way they can gradually encroach upon the government policies and one day they will govern. Likewise fascists are too assertive of their ideology and have strong hatred. Adolf Hitler for example had a strong Anti-Semitic feeling which resulted into killing of millions of the Jews.

Naxalism in India, yet another example, is the outcome of assertive action of those who believe in radical communism in the strongest form. Naxalists want to overthrow an elected government by force and redistribute lands to the poor and landless. They believe that the people belonging to upper classes and the rich have the bigger share of the haves in their favours. But they talk with the gun. Can a development be ever brought by using force and terrorizing the people? This appears to be a lame allegation as the Naxals do not participate in democratic elections; nay they prevent others to participate in elections. By participating in elections the Naxals could have placed their voice on the table but they do not do this. Because the real aim is not bringing a reform rather impose their communism in its totality.

In all these cases strong belief in an ideology resulted into extremism and hatred towards other ideologies and other believers resulting into killing of millions of people.

  1. Marx, K. Introduction to A Contribution to the Critique of Hegel’s Philosophy of Right. Collected Works, v. 3. New York. 1976.
  2. Ibid.
  3. Leonard Bertram Schapiro. The Communist Party of the Soviet Union. Eyre & Spottiswoode, p. 183. 1970. See also: Lenin and the First Communist Revolutions, V (

Nudity and Vulgarity are Two Different Things
—Dress, Chastity, Shame, Virginity

Nudity and vulgarity are two different things. We are born nude but not vulgar. Nudity is a natural condition while vulgarity is a learned behaviour. Nudity is not bad though vulgarity may be considered so. We’re nude under our garments but we are not vulgar under any garb, unless chosen.

Nudity is a prevailing fact. There are cultures which prefer little clothes, or some even wear too little clothes. Tribal people wear either little clothes or are nude. So nudity cannot be a reason of shamefulness.

Vulgarity is not a natural condition. One is vulgar in the manners one presents. Featuring young girl models in seductive postures in the men’s fashion and modeling magazines is vulgarity—in 2010 FHM brought out a 10-year girl in a seductive pose. Producing padded bras for the girls as young as five years old, and bikinis and thongs for girls under ten is yet another example of vulgarity, courtesy Abercrombie & Fitch. This promotes sexualisation by creating a feeling that the young girls are female and they would develop breasts in the place where they put on bras. This erases innocence from the mind of young female children. This is vulgarity.

Vulgarity is a provocative action or posture while nudity is simplicity. Many sadhus and saints do not wear clothes; their aim is to discard worldly riches. They are simple and not vulgar. On contrary, posing a seductive posture is possible even in long clothes—many girls wear scarf on their faces to look attractive and glamorous. When adorning a see-thorough dress would not necessarily be tagged vulgar but waving one’s body in obscene even in full clothes may be vulgar. However there is a thin line between nudity and vulgarity. A slight change in one may tend to advance into another.

Pushcart Award 2011 Nominees Announcement
Contemporary Literary Review: India is an ever growing journal. CLRI has increased its inclusion to ten pieces from seven per month to accommodate a large number of submissions from the writers from around the world. This is an effort to meet our goal to publish and promote as many writers as possible. However we apologise if any writer's submission does not get space in CLRI.

Now CLRI is going to work on nominating its writers to Pushcart Award by the end of November 2011. (However CLRI will nominate its writers only if suitable candidates are found.)

CLRI Reviews October 2011 Released
Contemporary Literary Review: India introduces its newsletter CLRI Reviews to the readers and writers. CLRI Reviews will feature reviews on books, journals, magazines, and products. CLRI Reviews will also include a book release list. Please send us your book release, so we can include it in the next CLRI Review issue.

Poetic Snippet
God created the apple
Steve Jobs invented Apple
The one who's once tempted to eat the apple
Is tempted to own Apple.

Khurshid Alam,
Editor, CLRI, November 2011.

The River Becomes by Susan Adams

The River Becomes (Poem) by Susan Adams

The River Becomes
Landscape is a slovenly
hot, dirty white.
The Ganges font
in the foothills of mountains
waits like a clock,
a dust bitten scar
of haze and cough
where Brahmin cattle
heat-stunned dull
cud their lives.
Crows nit backs
their call cracks air
then stumbles to a warble
with throats too parched to care.

The jeep juggles a narrow causeway
heat-limp hands greet our arrival
their saris have eyes, stop sun and flies
hide leprous wounds from flinch
in others eyes.
Men squat in dhotis and shirts
handkerchiefs knot corners of heads
children call 'Aunty, Aunty'
no sense of taint for their future
just laughter.

My room is a string bed, ceiling fan, granite floor
blades beat cool to reach corners
a bucket shower, cold, over raw hole
meshed windows halt flies, give entry
to live drain smells.
We gag, hold cloth under noses.

Days are a medication of slow
Lulled, loose shapes on deep verandahs
we expand sunsets
table tennis follows fire-cooked meals
books read, candles are light.
We edge towards the rains.

It happened like they said.
I was lying on my cot half naked
water coddled the hollow in my chest, hot.
It was raining in the Himalayas.

The sound distant. A roar travelling.
Gods' negatives on the hurl.
We race to the dried rockbank
nothing on the other side
but noise is riding on echoes in our ears.

Fear arrives before the water. 
We stare up at mountains
I have no idea how it will be. But short.
A dirty, yellow trickle as wide as the riverbed seems frivolous
frothed hissing on hot rocks slow motion fast.
The push behind has power,
retched boulders hurtle past to the plains below at sea level.
Massive muddied flow wipes through
the causeway is balsam to breath
one piece at a time broken
concrete slabs of jagged metal
arched like cards to a temple
but a channel made.
River rides its sky.

Sunita, 7, solders herself to me.
We are all transfixed by the chaos
Grover alive with excitement, palsy-bound to wheelchair
but eyes are sparks in his rolling head
and children are springs on screams.

Over so soon, much destroyed, muscles shake.
The force that rearranges land so fast
is humbling in grandeur.
River takes control,
a boundary that cuts and isolates
with ownership of deep clear water.

Boulders took our electric wire and water pipe.
At times men wade the crossing bikes on heads,
mugs collect rain as 'Jungly wallahs'
arrive with snakes and charms.
Heat leaves, river dries to a trickle
lush fades, peace layers valley.
The cold. Then heat will insinuate to a harsh scorch.
Planted, seasons move around me.
All will repeat.

Author’s Bio: Susan Adams, an Australian poet, has been published extensively in anthologies, online, and print literary journals both in Australia and internationally. She has been read numerously on ABC Radio National.  Recent publications have included Eureka Street, Nth Position (UK), Great Works (UK), Eclecticism, Sugarmule (USA), Bacopa (USA), Hecate, Social Alternatives, Ascent Aspirations (Ca), Cordite, The Chaffey Review (USA). She is preparing her first collection.

This piece was written during her year in Dehra Dun, India .

Review on Biography of Desire by Khurshid Alam

Biography of Desire by Adrià Guinart (Review by Khurshid Alam)

Biography of Desire by Adrià Guinart is a genuine voice against sexual assault of all types. What makes the anthology stands out dozens of books with the same concern is the author has not adopted a biased approach by raising voice of female sexual assault but sexual assault of all types, even against the male gender. Biography of Desire is a concoction of experience of sexual assault of the victim himself who happens to be its author. The protagonist in the sleek yet powerful and discerning anthology yells pain suffered at the hand of such a person he should have had no reason to fear from.

The protagonist digs a broken heart who suffered sexual assault at the very hand of his own brother. He stumbles at every corner in the journey of dark life where sexual assault knows no bound, “The crowd, prostituted and slaved,” and even God is dumb in a lost paradise, with no hope of respite. He cautions everyone “Be aware of strangers!” to be safe but soon his belief turns white compelling him to say “Be aware of the known ones!” when he becomes a victim at the hand of his own blood.

The shadows of evil deeds linger in the mind of the victim as he suffered the bad stuff at a very young age. He resorted to his parents to seek compassion but got no healing except the consolatory words. This left him in ‘no-where’ world. The evil memories of torture and treachery are written across the horizon of cold sky without a hope of showers as the sky has gone dry. The protagonist sees his own relation as a ‘chemical hail’. As he grows, his pain stiffens with time, the victim recalls the pain on his body—his breathes are hard, skin bruised—which makes him writhe all his life.

But life is not that cruel, his ‘temporary hell’ is over and the ‘cloud of depression’ disperses. There is a silver line of hope; he yearns for love from his parents. The first hand experience seconds the fact that the accused in sexual assault is generally those who have close proximity to the victims. This angle demands ears.

Title: Biography of Desire
Author: Adrià Guinart
ISBN: 978-1-4478-5219-3

Two Poems by Richard Luftig

Two Poems by Richard Luftig

they are there
        to tell us
that something bigger
        than ourselves
is coming
        up ahead

or around
oxbow bend
        that awaits
then only
        to drop
                unexpected falls.

or maybe it will
        be just
the fast water
        massaging the rocks
smoothed full
        with moss
and time.

but the lessons
        left best
in the guessing.

whatever is
        to come,
this river,
this fast water
has earned
the right
        to survive,

to re- write
        its life
and again,
        to choose

to tell
        it’s future
in any way
that it wills.

I want to be first
to plant my spring garden.
But each spade hole of dirt
fills full of mud and water.
In the tree a blue jay laughs.

Author’s Bio: Richard Luftig is a professor of educational psychology and special education at Miami University in Ohio. He is a recipient of the Cincinnati Post-Corbett Foundation Award for Literature and a semi finalist for the Emily Dickinson Society Award. His poems have appeared in numerous literary journals in the United States and internationally in Japan, Canada, Australia, Europe, Thailand, Hong Kong and India. His third chapbook was published by Dos Madres Press.

The Sacred Laugh by Mohit Parikh

The Sacred Laugh (Short Story) by Mohit Parikh

I looked in her eyes and was trapped, as I so often was.

She stood, statued. Her face radiating energy. Her angelic body in sublime harmony, made me believe in the existence of a Great Designer. Every part of her body in rhythm with the other; each musical note playing independently, yet concordant, forming a divine symphony. The smooth glowing terrain of her face was not disturbed by her nose and eyes, but integrated. Her big eyes opened wide, like a shining gem from a sea shell, and were so cognate to her smile, that the being of one seemed unimaginable without the other. Her smooth, slim hands were folded casually in each others' company but they appeared to be jelled in an alignment. The amble winds made her hair flow gently on her back. Her hair did not resist the flow, but became the flow.

She stood, statued. Her face, radiating energy. I looked at my drawing sheet and compared, then smiled silently at my silly thought.

"It's...", I announced,"'s done."

She came, approaching gaily; her eagerness winning over her fatigue.
I stopped her. "Wait. Promise me you won't laugh when u see it."

"I promise. But is it because I look bad or you draw bad?" The mischief in her eyes told me it wasn't a question, just play. But I forced myself to reply, "Neither."
I let her scrutinize my efforts. The zeal in her eyes gave way to some shock, as she stared at the canvas. "Don't tell me that is me!", she said pointing to the sketch of a man who was admiring the night sky.

"Of course not. Actually...", I said, "that's me."

Amused by my reply, she asked, "Then where am I?"
I knew she would laugh, and I wanted her to. So I reminded her, "You
remember your promise?"

"I do, my lord."

I gathered some courage to get naked, and still be ignored. "That's you", said I, pointing towards the top right of the sheet.

She laughed, I rejoiced. I prayed that time would halt.

"Why do you always play pranks with me?" she complained without complaining at all and went away. When I could no longer descry her, I gazed at my creation. There, amongst the foggy night clouds was a stainless moon, chaste, serene and un-obscured, looking at the distant viewer, and laughing sacredly.

Author's Bio: Mohit Parikh works in a staffing and recruiting firm. He is 25. While he mostly writes short-fiction, he is currently working on a novel about growing up in India, before the information age. All children except one grow up.

Sacred Laugh is a very short story capturing the romance and the naivete of youth. Narrated by a nineteen year old kid (the then age of author) with an artistic bend, the story tries to portray the playful chemistry between its two protagonists. The plot has been kept extremely simple, focusing instead on the tender 'romanticization' of exchanges. The author blogs at

Three Poems by Krishna Keerthi

Three Poems by Krishna Keerthi

Take a Moment
Unlucky were the moments,
That passed away in haste,
Most of them, worth cherishing,
Yet perished in waste.

The world as it seeks,
something new every moment,
But hates to take a peek,
At the happening dents.

There's no one here thinking,
Let living, far off,
Just some living things existing,
Nothing else left on this turf.
Seek something new,
Why not from the old,
And still you'll be surely among few,
Who'd then say, surely it's gold.

Where the world finds thunders,
You could reveal love,
And still make people wonder,
As you did it, but how.

Belief is what you need,
To show the world you can,
Rise up this moment's pride,
To ride your "luck sedan".

Pretty Woman
The one in the lead role,
The saviour of my heart,
To cure, you were here, my soul,
Never will we be apart.

Life's never been so easy,
Neither so confusing,
For the happy smiles we had,
Were always so relieving,
And the tears we had shared,
Everytime had a meaning.

For time as it apppears,
An athlete on a marathon,
Without any end,
Running for that honking horn,
Since our journey started,
Never given it a chance to burn.

For there might once come a time,
Where seconds hold their hands to stop that minute,
And still we won't find the answer,
For the unknown fight of a secret.

To forgive is divine,
As people say,
Don't let go off this heart of mine,
As I pray,
For you've been the one I'd always found so fine,
Do come back once the devil's took it's way,
And we'll walk again those old rains,
With the showers of memories, weighing forever the same.

The Monsoons
Don't know where it started,
As the drained drops in the clouds,
From some unknown place,
By some unknown flames.

Reached out into the skies,
Empty and hollow there above,
Gathered all in thrive,
To get back again.

Showered on to the earth,
Some place unknown,
But deeds onto their minds,
On what had to be done.

Some to drench the thirst,
Some on to the heat-burst,
Some into a puddle,
Together, out in a huddle.

Finding others in a pot,
Of the earth's beauty plot,
Gush together in a flow,
Nothing that could slow.

Rushing through the streams,
Rivers and other means,
Carrying the sweet and pure,
Waters to bring along the lure.

Had it not been for the oceans,
The sweet and pure which were the waters,
Of these raindrops,
Had to be salted for His funs.

Such has been my love to you,
Started out of nowhere,
And reached out to where
It met you, and unknowingly grew.

Then reached out to share,
The beauty found so rare,
Happiness bound with it,
Heart's delight and treat.

Salt could never be sweet,
Beauty, you needn't add to,
Beholds, beneath itself,
Embrace is all you've got to do

Author’s Bio: Krishna Keerthi is doing Electronic and Communication Engineering at TRR Engineering College in Hyderabad. He started writing at the age of 17, while doing his intermediate. His initial interest was with romantic works, but then turned writing all his passion.

Krishna finds that life has become so non-organic in the modern concrete civilisation that people seem to be less reactive to feelings missing the real life. He suggests to take everyone a moment for oneself in Take a Moment. He is dreamy in the bright sunshine in Pretty Woman, and is broken heart in The Monsoon. He posts his works on his blog

Pot of Gold by Ron Felton

Pot of Gold (Poem) by Ron Felton

Yes the panic hit me first when I heard her
Fear taking it’s place at my core
And the tear factory roared into life
I am losing the woman to be my wife
Moments before were full of excitement in me
Wanting to draw even closer to my bride to be
The one who I had always dreamed of
Rejecting me
So much feeling and care lead to numbness
Alone I wandered looking for something to feel
As the tears filled my core
Putting out any flame or pilot light
How can this be right I wonder
That a love so strong has been made weakest
Needing more or less
I search for nothing
And find it here
Loving her so much I allow her to go
Through numbness and torrents of tear
Waiting for what is next
Next to nothing
My rainbow a band of colorless lines
My pot of gold left empty

Author’s Bio: Ron Felton is a writer. This poem is about a romance that seems to have ended for the writer.

Three Poems by David Groulx

Three Poems by David Groulx

The towns people made enough donations
To buy a house with all the ramps and
hallways wide enough for a wheelchair
after he came home from Afghanistan
his arms and legs still there
he was twentythree
It was the least they could do

Crowds gather on the bridges
That cross over the 401
waving flags and saluting
crying even
as the hearse goes by
His mother is not here
They take picture with their phones and sing
Oh Canada
Oh Kandahar
another soldier from across the world
they believe the body inside is a hero
dead soldiers always seem to be
inside is only the torso

Tonight and for the rest of her life
his mother will be without a son

There is a man on my tv
selling holy water
20$ a vial
It will make you rich, it will saaave yur lifea
It will maa-ake miracleaza
These things are not miracles
and I already know
Water is sacred

Author’s Bio: David Groulx was raised in the Northern Ontario mining community of Elliot Lake. He is proud of his Aboriginal roots – his mother is Ojibwe Indian and his father French Canadian.

After receiving his BA from Lakehead University where he won the Munro Poetry Prize. David studied creative writing at the En’owkin Centre in Penticton, B.C. where he won the Simon J Lucas Jr. Memorial Award for poetry. He has also studied at The University of Victoria Creative Writing Program. He has written six poetry books – Night in the Exude (Tyro Publications: Sault Ste Marie,1997); and The Long Dance (Kegedonce Press,2000). Under God’s Pale Bones (Kegedonce Press,2010), A Difficult Beauty is due out in Autumn 2011 (Wolsak & Wynn:Hamilton), Rising A Distant Dawn (BookLand Press:Toronto) is due out in the Spring of 2012 as well as Our Life Is Ceremony (Lummox Press: California).

David is a member of the League of Canadian Poets, as well as a member of The Ontario Poetry Society. He recently won the 3rd annual PoetryNOW Battle of the Bards. His poetry has appeared in a 115 publications in England, Australia, Germany, Austria, Turkey, New Zealand and the USA. He lives in a log home near Ottawa, Canada.

Myth, Folklore and Society by Mariam Karim

Myth, Folklore and Society by Mariam Karim

In an increasingly ‘rational’ world, myth and folklore are seen to be pertinent only in the dominion of religion and in schoolbooks. In Greek society with the arrival of new religions the credibility of the old myths and Gods and Goddesses was diminished and they have been accorded the status of beloved fairy tales. In a country like India religion and mythology are closely interlinked even today and each region has its own myths and beliefs that form an integral part of the cultural, social and even political life of a people. Tales everywhere are considered to play a very important role in the development and sustaining of cultures. The well known writer of folktales and raconteur, Henri Gougaud, says folktales help one to ‘become oneself ‘and to live. It  is interesting also to note that psychologists and theorists of sociocultural evolution maintain that folk and fairy tales, and now our modern folklore of cinema and television help us define our own values and guide us in taking life’s major decisions, especially those pertaining to our emotions. Jungian psychology would explain this through the creation of unconscious psychological patterns or mental archetypes.

The folk tale and often the myth are structured entities and follow a set recognizable path from beginning to end, a typical pattern, for the story to arrive at its culmination. It is significant that the narration and the configuration of the tale are so structured that certain value systems are upheld or critiqued.

According to the Functional Model of the analysis of folk and fairy tales proposed by structuralist Vladimir Propp, there are certain “constants” in a tale and each of these has a “function”. For example the hero, the villain, the danger, the trial etc. The intrigue takes place around the key characters or actors – the hero, the quest, the person who sends the hero on the quest (a person or the desire for a person), the magical supplementary, the adjuvant and so on.

Semiotics theorist A J Greimas’ premise is that the characters take on what he calls an abstract quality, and are no longer concrete actors, but “actants”. At the deepest level, he postulates, under the narrative structures can be found discursive structures, where the opposition or conflict between actants constitutes symbolic oppositions such as life/death, sexuality, power, good/evil etc. (This gives us an insight into the ‘moral’ implication of these tales and the sustaining of values and cultures through them).

One can briefly understand the “actancial” model of Greimas’ analysis in this manner:
  1. Plane of manifestation: STORY
  2. Plane of immanence:
NARRATION-- Narrative structures
SYMBOLISM-- Discursive structures

It is interesting to note the distinction he makes between Story and Narration.

The morphology of the tale, as we can see, takes the typical path in which the dénouement reveals certain truths which allow the reinforcing of particular cultural values. Feminist critique of tales, generally at the discursive level, where the female protagonist or sometimes the sender on the quest is imprisoned by an evil ogre or djinn or witch, and is rescued by the male protagonist, is that they reinforce patriarchal values. The male protagonist has to often kill someone or destroy something in order to succeed in his quest. Cruelty is a male value which is lauded and propagated and is required to prove virility.  (Sometimes Gods replace men: Krishna is frequently seen as a saviour of hapless women following from the rescue of Draupadi at the chirharan scene in the Mahabharata).

Folkloric tales were often oral in nature. Even when translated, like the Panchatantra or the Jataka Tales, their original oral nature can be detected in the many repetitions, which are valuable in creating rhythm and cadence as well as building up suspense while telling a tale aloud. Frequently recurring phrases and motifs were also used in this view. (The onomatopoeic content of the repetitions, however, is likely to be lost in translation). Anthropologists often see, in the recurrent motifs in folk and fairy tales, a way of tracing human migrations and exchanges over centuries. Stories change, names change as they travel from culture to culture but the basic motifs frequently remain, from Norse tales to Deccan tales to African. For example it is fascinating to note that the motif of a bird/animal housing a soul can be found in tales all over the world. The belief in the “external” soul stowed away for safety, populates tales across cultures. Another example is that of the number “seven”, significant in many cultures (seven chakras, seventh heaven, seven seas, seven deadly sins, seven tenets of Islam). Ancient religions also adopted this number: the Egyptians had seven gods, Parsees seven angels, Persians seven sacred horses, and Phoenicians seven mysterious kabiris gods.

Cultural evolution theorists E. B. Tylor and Andrew Lang, however, put forward a theory of ‘parallelism’, and ‘psychic unity’, arguing that ‘several cultural elements evolve in parallel and almost simultaneously in different societies’.

Cinema and television serials, our contemporary tales, also reinforce particular values, which have their base in pre-existing values but have evolved and transformed, integrating global values in an increasingly shrinking world where ‘psychic unity’ is a more believable notion.  Their influence cannot be underestimated. Currently they are helping build into society unconscious psychic dispositions and mental archetypes which may be very difficult to break out of. The shape the world takes on may be due to the unconscious influence of stories we hear on a daily basis, the path they take, and their endings.

  1. Bettelheim, Bruno. The Uses of Enchantment. 1976.
  2. CILF. Clés pour le conte africain et créole. 1986.
  3. Greimas A.J. Sémantique Structurale. 1966.
  4. Propp,Vladimir. Morphologie du conte 1928. Seuil, 1970.
Author’s Bio: Mariam Karim-Ahlawat, a pedagogue of French Language and Literature, a freelance editor, and a writer of fiction for children and adults, was born in Lucknow and educated at the JNU New Delhi and the Sorbonne in Paris.

Her first novel My Little Boat (Penguin India 2003) was nominated for the IMPAC International Award 2005 and the Hutch Crossword Award, second novel The Bereavement of Agnes Desmoulins, longlisted for the Man Asian Prize 2009.

Her first play The Betrayal of Selvamary shortlisted for the Hindu Metro Plus Playwright Award 2010, (and will be performed by Pierrot’s Troupe Delhi), her second play Fractals Search for the Real longlisted for the Hindu Metro Plus Playwright Award 2011.

My children’s musical about street children A Bagful of Dreams will soon be performed in Delhi, produced by Mr. Arun Kapur with music by well known author and musician Peggy Mohan. She has contributed short stories to anthologies such the Siècle 21 (Paris), South Asian Review (University  of Pittsburgh) and Our Voice, the PEN International Women Writers Anthology.

She published her first book of folk and fairy tales for children in 1994 Tales Old and New Harper Collins India. Since then she has published a number of children’s books (Tulika Publishers, Chennai) and contributed to anthologies. These are available in several Indian languages.

She also contributes her writings to different journals, such as the Times of India Pluses, Illuminati (an online Indian journal) and three of her books for children figure among the Best Twenty Reads for World Environment Day on Young India Books.

Review on Pinocchio 3D by David Gallo

Review on Pinocchio 3D by David Gallo

Pinocchio 3D: Collodi’s classic becomes an iPad application!
Here comes the multimedia adventures of the most famous puppet in the world.

“Pinocchio 3D”, iPad application produced by Avagliano Editore (from autumn 2011 on
Apple Store), through illustrations and music especially created, thirteen beautiful
animated scenes, full of details, with surprising characters and evocative setting, still
presents all characteristics of the original novel. But it is eriche by a lot of new involving
occasions to play and interact. This application ,which is unique on the market, offers:
  • Sophisticated 3d scenes – you do not need to use 3d glasses –with particles, shader, animations and physics support
  • “Read to Me” option: you can choose an automatic reading of the whole book
  • Complete customization: you can switch on/off music, sound effects and narrator’s voice
  • Index of scenes and chapters available at any time
  • Wonderful recited narration in English and Italian
  • 10 amazing original soundtracks
  • 23 spectacular, original and interactive illustrations
  • Full interactive scenes, figures, characters and objects
  • 3D engine management app
  • Full and original book text in English and Italian
  • Selection of up to three different colored bookmarks
  • Easy and intuitive interface for navigating the book
The application for iPad "Pinocchio 3D" is designed for users of all ages. Born from the imagination of Carlo Collodi, the world’s most famous fairy tale is in fact a children's book very loved by adults because it represents a colorful metaphor of the life, with its variety of characters and fantastic places.

Tradition and innovation fit perfectly in this product from childhood to adult age to offer timeless emotions.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

CLRI 2/5 October 2011

Editor's Line

Growing Space for Letter-Writing by Khurshid Alam
--Need to Recognize New Forms of Letter-Writing

Shrinking space for letters from our life has drawn attention of many people. People lament that they do not write letters as frequently as before and the art of letter writing is lost now. We cite lots of reasons to it like introduction of penny post in the 1900s when Carlyle and others were on the verge of ending to send letters through costly letter posting system, invention of telephone through which you can get connected to people from any corner of the world instantly, then the mobile phone and finally—not finally though as many new electronic media may be invented which may be even faster, easier and cheaper— the immediacy of the Internet have erased the very reason to write letters to people. But is it so that these are the only reasons that killed the art of fine letter writing?

What I find that judging the art of letter writing is not fair enough, apart from all these reasons. I would like to repeat the words of C. E. Whitmore, who opined this on essay writing, that a single continuous tradition for ‘letter writing’ is vain (The Field of the Essay, P.M.L.A., XXXVI, 551 ff). We are opiated to a structure of writing where we begin with writing address and date on the far right, to salutation on the left, to main letter body in the middle, to closing words and signature at the end and then we recognize that structure as letter. The second big thing is letters written on papers with pen are regarded as the real letters. We have to first break from this ‘single continuous tradition for letter writing structure’. Then we can move ahead and recognize other letters as letters and give them due value.

Though it is true that the space for letters in the print media—newspapers and magazines—has been continuously shrinking, yet we find the letters that see light are worthy to read. There is more importance attached to letters appearing in the print media. The print media want to associate the relationship with the readers through letters the readers send. And the letters submitted to print media are too many. The media cannot dare suspend their relation with the readers by closing the column for ‘Letters to the Editor’. So the space for letters has shrunk, its importance has grown.

Here I would like to mention the name of Keith Flett, the voice of the readers, whose letters have appeared in all leading British papers including The Guardian, The Independent, The Mirror, the Evening Standard, the London Review of Books, New Statesman, The Morning Star, Tribune, New Musical Express and What's Brewing among others. Keith is the most famous letter writer of Britain and is known for ‘good writing and clear speech’. He has faced ban by many editors one time or the other for his free voice but has never stopped from dropping his letters in the letter-boxes of the presses for years now.

He writes in all media available today but he finds that the letters appearing in the press attract people more.
In the age of Twitter, Facebook, blogs, texts and YouTube, why bother to write a letter to the editor? I use all the above formats, but it is only when I have a letter published in a national paper that people stop me to say: “I saw your letter”. They hardly ever say “I saw your tweet” or “I saw your post on Facebook”. (Keith, August 2010)

This is what we have to break from.

Short Messaging Service (SMS) and Multimedia Messaging Service (MMS) are the messaging systems which are no less important media than letter writing to the people in relation: if we accept that letter writing is done to send messages to the people. The advent of social networking sites such as Orkut, Facebook, LinkedIn, Tweeter, blogs and others are more powerful media where we communicate our personal views on board. While through letters our communication is one-on-one basis, talking on social networking sites is one-to-hundreds basis communication; where the population of readers you are not acquainted with constitutes more. So the advantage is more with the new age communication media.

There are many instances when a message on social networking sites has created great hue. For example, when Shashi Tharoor talked about the ‘cattle class’ to the ‘economy class’ in air service on Tweeter, it created so much fuss and it was termed as racial. Amitabh Bachchan shared his personal joys about his daughter-in-law’s pregnancy on Tweeter. Many big personalities tweet their feelings and share information on such sites, which sometimes run into controversies. This shows that these media have strong value.

Email communication is the best alternative to letter writing! As hard copy format of letter has address and date, the email has email id and date auto-generated, then we write the body message, with the same popular closing words and signature. The Internet-based communication has a good easily formattable signature also, of which we can take great advantage.

Many may be still hooked to the idea that email communication does not enjoy the same reverence, I can argue further with all humbleness that all letters written in olden days are not as worthy to read and make record of. We know letters of only a few writers who when writing used to write ideas, thoughts, and feelings, or describe the immediate environment they lived in, in picturesque words. People in those days too lacked the art of fine letter writing as A. G. Gardiner shows in his essay On Letter-Writing.

So the fashion of letter writing in hard copy formats is waning but both the space and the art of letter writing are growing instead. Now we have to give value to it by applying ideas, thoughts while shooting an email to our people, or talking in leisure on social networking sites, or sending too fast SMS through mobiles in the same picturesque words. We are waiting for the John Keats, the Madame de Sevigny, the Lord Byron, the Mirza Ghalib in writing ever memorable email communications.

CLRI Nominees for Best of the Net 2011 award Declared

We had a brain storming session to read the pieces and collect the ratings from the readers from all walks of life and from around the world. We worked hard to select only few pieces from the list we first collected. Then we concentrated on fewer pieces. Finally CLRI rates the following five poems (chronologically) as best:
  1. Three Visionaries by Khurshid Alam
  2. The House of My Old-man by Aditya Shankar
  3. Lotus-reused as a metaphor by Dr Sonnet Mondal
  4. Bharatnatyam by Tahera Mannan
  5. A Birthplace But No Memories by Vinita Agrawal
which are worth winning awards. However CLRI declares the following pieces as its nominees to the Best of the Net.

  1. The House of My Old-man by Aditya Shankar
  2. Birthplace But No Memories by Vinita Agrawal
  1. Muslim Community has Failed as a Community by Khurshid Alam
CLRI 2/5 October 2011 issue

CLRI 2/5 October 2011 issue is special in the way that it has some pieces on our themed issue: Corruption. Corruption is presently a very hot issue in India. Mother India Wails by Pankajam and Forced by Carolyn Agee are on the Corruption theme.

While CLRI includes an essay on psychology by Amir Aziz (The Netherlands), and poems by Abhishek Tiwari (West Bengal, India), April Avon (St. Petersberg, Russia), and Jéanpaul Ferro (Rhode Island, US).

We request the readers to leave feedback as it helps us improve our quality and prove to be true to their expectation.

Khurshid Alam,
Editor, CLRI, October 2011.

Mother India Wails by Pankajam

Mother India Wails (Poem) by Pankajam

Mother India revisits to see her subjects
and the legacy she left behind, like Mahabali to Kerala.
After six decades of her unshackling
matchless grace alone existed in her guess.

And she witnesses….

Passive press, poverty at the peak 
In pitiable shape are pillars of democracy
Citadel of justice no place for seekers,
delayed are denied as well.

Depleting water bodies, drinking water dear
ecology neglected, greens go vanishing
sprawling slums, suffocating cities, air stinking 
a disaster we gift to the generation next.

Dreaming to build a casteless society
one discloses caste at each step!
And in supposedly a secular society
morals not taught in schools, a pity! 

Total prohibition, only an exposition 
alcohol abundant, addicts ever on the rise
values weak, crimes glorified, 
corruption in politics, a secret open.

Prices sky-high, boom in black markets
power games in politics surpass all limits  
self seeking rulers, values not virulent
disparity in income scales new heights.

Sinking legitimate hopes to walk off in full might,
as an epitome of delight, pining stood she instead,
beset with gloom, thorns in her throat bleeding
muttering mournful prayers to save her children,
stuck by the epidemic of inertia.

Deeply wounded, disillusioned, dismayed
she thought, enough is enough.
Nothing of the sort to rejoice or relish.
Oh, the apostle of truth and ahimsa
You too exist only in pictures.

Hopes not fully withered, faith in the youth she still has
a wish forcefully pops up and she visualizes India
regaining her past glories, if only children realize
her greatness, her virtues.

Oh, the great lovers of this country
come down from your heavenly abode
to take a rebirth on this sacred soil,
your mission here is sure to succeed.

Author’s Bio: Pankajam, raised in the Trichur District of Kerala, is a Finance Officer by profession and currently lives in Chennai. She writes in her leisure time.  She has two volumes of poetry to her credit and has been published in Deccan Herald, Muse India, Poem Hunter, Reading Hour and others and many other pieces are forthcoming in other journals.

Forced by Carolyn Agee

Forced (A Poem) by Carolyn Agee

To see her face, wracked with anguish, which a thousand uterine scrapings could never cleanse.
Scars gently held like an infant
ceaseless in her wails,
a phantom in this place, where it is better to be born
a man. Better not to be born
at all.

Rubber degrades in the tropics.
Humanity degrades in these narrow streets.
How heavy the carnage weighed in the
name of desire. 20 baht. The price of a human soul.

Author’s Bio: Carolyn Agee is an actress and author living in the United States. Her work has recently been published in Recovering the Self: A Journal of Hope and Healing, Perspectives Magazine, and FairTrade Journal. She can be reached at:

I Versus I Feuds at the Self’s Introspective Fronts by Amir Aziz

I Versus I Feuds at the Self’s Introspective Fronts (Essay) by Amir Aziz

The profound excellence, an artist’s work of art achieves from translating an idea into a concrete shape, principly owes its credit to the inner drive for expression that artists experience in some superior quantum than laymen. The locus of all thoughts and feelings is always the self, comprising of mind, heart and body. The events inside a self can be both blithe and anarchic. Therefore, artistic expressions oscillate between the beautiful and the grotesque, the living and the dead, the happy and the melancholic and so on. For instance, art can manifest all moods which are fortressed in a turbulent heart, in a perturbed mind and in a bruised body. In this vastly split territory of aesthetic dualism, the artist is found encroaching upon the haze in the grey areas of the self which can also be called the no man’s land. A serious artist is the one who crazily weaves cryptic cobwebs in those lands like a spider while inundating his/her whole body and soul (heart and mind) in this holy enterprise of discovery, invention and creation. In the world of so called “high culture,” the artists with this brand of habits and work ethics are revered as the worshippers of their art.

A subtle shift of perspective from the abstract world of art to the realm of real life, will reveal an unending territory of identical intellectual conundrums and ambivalent moral choices, that a common individual has to tread like a scared squirrel upon the land mines of uncertainties or like a careless child’s gallops on the beach sand. The latter approach is the most widely followed one by the contemporary hedonists, realists and the empiricists whereas the idealists, reflecting ideologues and the contemplative souls wage a secret battle between their body and soul to forge an amicable pact between the two. And this perpetually and simultaneously updating and breaking up pact, is tinned according to their understanding of truth, reality and goodness at the given moment of time. There is a scarce margin of doing a biased value judgment of either of the approaches as neither has harboured humanity to the eternal peace and calm that could theme the plot of an ideal narrative of life. This is especially because of a noticeable decline by one camp to accept the other’s thrust upon material and this worldly success as the yard stick to a purposeful life. From this spot of difference, the fountains of theology, ethics, morals, values and philosophic speculations are untapped to irrigate a dry terrain of opportunism and selfish interest based competitions. This insurrection against a Darwinian view of the world is actually against the notion which states that competition inheres in all individual collectivities like communes, cultures and nations and therefore, ‘winner take it all’ elixir is justified.

A further zeroing in of our focus upon any individual’s maiden steps in such an unforgiving pool of devourers, yields spells of complicated and baffling cross question sessions that only an introspective soul can stage in the court of its mind. The first amongst those questions which inadvertently shakes walls of one’s mind is related to education, both spiritual and conventional. If education is meant to tame and pacify human impulses to avarice, greed, murder, immorality and all other inhuman and wild frailties; why do the professionally trained and erudite individuals end up in a compromising moral position at their very first altar i.e. by becoming part of a ruthless and valueless market based system where individuals are treated like tools and commodities? An obvious escape from the self-flogging curses of one’s conscience is an argument of self preservation and survival. And in most other scenarios, the voices of conscience are muted by the craftiness of the justificatory discourse at the tail ends of an unconfessed guilt which reposes in some dullest chambers of one’s heart.

The third and the rarest of the scenarios is an open confession of one’s guilt in the absence of outside duress. Individuals rarely reflect justly enough in a process of self accountability to charge themselves as guilty and worthy of persecution. Man is too biased a beast. On the other side of the picture, crime and sin are not mere aberrations of an inherently virtuous statue of the Homo sapiens. It is worth not overlooking that as there are people consciously dedicated to good, there is a genuine propensity and love for wickedness in people with a full knowledge of it as evil. Hence, evil in people is not an error of their judgment or a mistake. It is a conscious moral choice. The riddles of fate, on the other hand, are a usual recourse to shift the blame of their undoing, amongst the criminals. It is the prerogative of only the conscientious souls to indulge in a Hegelian sort of dialectical process of bringing in equation, thesis with the antithesis of virtually every idea to formulate a synthesis. In a mammon worshiping society whose foundations are devoid of a talk of morals, ethics and didacticism; the self of a conscientious individual will be left to itself to have feuds with itself about the choices it has been granted by the external world and those she deems best and moral for itself.

Beside carrying the historic tradition of imparting knowledge, if contemporary education system and the educational institutions are viewed in the post-modern world as mere instruments to wield power and strengthen edifices of power (government and its sister institutions) in society; an individual with genuine zeal to entrust his/her distinguished ideologies and thoughts to the world treasury of knowledge is found lacking in his/her amity for this whole system. This is one of those situations in which the universities polish the pebbles and waste the diamonds because this is their prescribed role by the system in which they breathe in. And that role is to manufacture a work force that market demands from them, so that they may chip in its structure without much fuss. Hence, the modalities of power are determined and spread right throughout the social system and its sister institutions. In this so called free market economic structure, this is a myth to postulate that individuals are free. It is a matter of paramount importance that in honour of the nuances of every individual self, the individuals should be empowered exactly on the pattern of the leverage the institutions enjoy. This has a promise of a more responsible and a loyal citizenry.

Author's Bio: Aamir Aziz is a PhD Fellow in Leiden University Institute of Cultural Disciplines, The Netherlands. His is doing research on American play, The Crucible, as a case of hunt for spectres in post 9/11 world of fear.

His present article is themed around art, life and culture motifs in contemporary interdisciplinary perspective.

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