Thursday, June 22, 2017

Romantic Poets Session – Jun 15, 2017

It was a record attendance – all but one of our readers attended and we had a lovely guest, retired professor of English from St. Teresa's College, Betty Kuriyan.

Shoba, Betty, KumKum

We all enjoyed the occasion, which was celebrated with sandwiches and cakes with tea and coffee. Our special thanks go to KumKum who proposed the happy idea of a session of poetry devoted to the English Romantic poets. She then followed up with the readers to ensure attendance. Kudos to her; and to Priya for arranging the splendid refreshments.

Saras (back) Hemjith, Kavita, Shoba, Betty, Joe, KumKum, Zakia

Although Thommo and Ankush were recovering from medical issues, both participated with abandon.

Saras, Hemjith

In our family I am allowed to decide whether Keats or Shelley is the greater poet, but there is no evidence from this session for a conclusion either way. Other contenders among the Romantics seem equally eligible. What a marvellous group of poets to have arrived in one place within a generation and elevated poetry to Himalayan heights!

Priya, Saras, Hemjith, Kavita

This time Sunil was missing; his absence has a generally downhill influence on the gathering for lack of wisecracks and laughter. As we are reading a humorous novella next time (Pnin) his attendance is a must if we are to derive the full experience.

Betty, KumKum, Zakia

Zakia, who came but did not read, is missing from the group picture below.

Ankush, Saras, Thommo, Priya, KumKum, Shoba, Pamela, Betty Kavita, Preeti, Hemjith (seated)

Monday, May 29, 2017

Paul Beatty — The Sellout May 24, 2017

The cover of the novel depicts Diogenes of Sinope, the Greek philosopher who allegedly carried around a lit lantern in broad daylight, saying he was “looking for an honest man”. But the Diogenes shown here is black, jauntily clad in pink shirt and white trousers.

The reading was poorly attended and a couple of readers had not managed to read the novel. Nevertheless with a bit of urging they too read from passages others had selected.

Paul Beatty - ‘I wanted to be a psychologist. It taught me how to look underneath the rock’

There's a lot of drollery and sheer extravagance in the use of language, sprinkled plentifully with mother-fuckers, bitches and psychology jargon. The characters are often denizens of the absurd: Hominy Jenkins who volunteers as slave to the narrator (‘Me’) and calls him Massa in the manner of a pre-Reconstruction era slave; a punk pretender called Foy Cheshire who lives by publishing the ideas of Me's father and heads the Dum Dum Donut Intellectuals. And Marpessa the attractive bus-driver Me yearns for, who seems unattainable.


Me goes about his life work of
a) Re-creating the erased town of agrarian Dickens in LA County, the largest and most diverse county in USA whose population of 10m is larger than that of 42 states; and
b) Re-segregating its society so people may regain a sense of community, identity and self-worth.


Miraculously he succeeds in both ventures, and the rejuvenated Dickens scores higher on measures of social and educational progress than it ever had before. However, he runs foul of the Civil Rights Act and ends up facing judgement in the Supreme Court of the United Staes, refighting the ‘separate-but-equal’ battles of the 1960s.

KumKum & Joe

Though Me wins Marpessa by novel's end, since the case is unresolved, there's scope for a even crazier sequel.

Almond Nougat

Here we are at the end of the reading after consuming the sweet almond nougat Hemjit brought along:

Joe, Thommo, Sunil, Preeti (back row) KumKum, Hemjit (sitting)

Monday, April 10, 2017

Poetry Session – Apr 5, 2017

Seven readers attended, but several more would have come but for last-minute exigencies.

Karutha halwa

KumKum brought halwa to offer readers for the forthcoming Vishu celebration; Easter too is around the corner. Thommo ordered coffee for us and we were seated this time around two tables covered with elegant white tablecloths in a boardroom setting.

Two of the choices were novelists who turned their hand to poetry. Poets ancient and modern, famous and unknown, excited the senses of our readers.

Readers bring their wide experience to the poems and provide insights and appreciation. It is rare that a finely turned line misses an expression of relish. Often there are humorous sidelights to add a topical flavour to the readings.

From the relaxed comfort of the boardroom setting Joe forgot to use his camera to go around and capture the readers. Hence, there is only this final group picture:

Joe, Shoba, Thommo, Zakia, (seated) Saras, Hemjit, KumKum