Poetry at the Post: Bollywood High With Tony Hoagland & How To Cope With Depression On A Hot Summer’s Day

At the Galleria Shopping Mall

Just past the bin of pastel baby socks and underwear,
there are some 49-dollar Chinese-made TVs;

one of them singing news about a far-off war,
one comparing the breast size of an actress from Hollywood

to the breast size of an actress from Bollywood.

Film poster for first Indian sound film, Ardeshir Irani's Alam Ara (1931)
Film poster for first Indian sound film, Ardeshir Irani’s Alam Ara (1931)
“GalleriaOne” by Postoak at en.wikipedia. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons –

When I’m depressed, I watch movies—especially Bollywood films. The more weddings the better so I was on a Bollywood High in Jaipur last January for the opening of Dolly Ki Doli— a 2015 Indian comedy-drama film about a young woman who is a con artist. Because Dolly’s modus operandi is to love them then leave them—with all they own—there are many, many weddings in Dolly Di Doli. Silly and predictable but a whole lot of fun!!!

Alice’s Depresso-fixer rating! 4star

Raj Mandir Cinema by Alice-Catherine Jennings

SOMEONE a looteri
dulhan, a high shine
thief ululating calls
loud whee-oh torry-
yu mellow & fluffy
she patterns thievery
like the colors of

                                                the fern-leaf
                                                plastered walls
                                                pink blue blue pink
                                                crash the boy’s heart
                                                then another crashed
                                                heart “no need to repeat!

Thanks to the editors of  Zoomoozophone Review for first publishing “Raj Mandir Cinema” in Issue 6, June 2015. You can check it out here.

Raj Mandir Cinema Jaipur, India January 2015
Raj Mandir Cinema
Jaipur, India
January 2015

raj2 raj3

Poetry at the Post: The Indian Quarterly—Sudeep Sen

Paper T[r]ails by Sudeep Sen


Paper dreams within the cover of a book,
book binds itself with the glue of a spine,

spine weaves together—dovetailed
by the grace of words—words of passion,


India is well—for a first time visitor—indescribable. Somehow, I still cannot put my brief two-week visit to Northern India into perspective. The focus of the trip was the ZEE Jaipur Literature Festival. Billed as the largest free literary festival on earth, the JaipurLitFest 2015 may have lived up to its hype with 300 authors, 140 musicians and 245,000 recorded footfalls over five days.

The crowds were intense—especially as the week wore on. It was nearly impossible to push through the cross paths on the grounds of the Hotel Diggi Palace at midday—or to find a seat at one of the sessions. Yet, if you went early in the morning, the queue for chai-in-small red-earthen-cups was short and you could grab a spot somewhere at one of the 10 venues. And, who you might find seated next to you could be surprising-from an economic advisor to Prime Minister Modi to a graduate student from LA studying Renaissance trade routes in India as international visitors were represented from over 50 countries!


photo credit: John Jennings
photo credit: John Jennings

Sometimes the best part of a trip is what you discover when you get back home. That’s what happened to me. After decompressing from the 31-hour journey from Jaipur to Austin, I discovered my complimentary copy of  The Indian Quarterly.
This is a beautifully produced literary and cultural magazine full of essays, art, fiction, poetry, photo essays. My favorite part is discovering new poems and poets, such as Paper T[r]ails by Sudeep Sen


Paper dreams in stacks, between covers,

among notes left surreptitiously
between pages for someone else to read.

Poetry at the Post: Reading the Tea Leaves



     Sibyl by Francesco Ubertini, c. 1525

Sibyl by Francesco Ubertini, c. 1525

-keep, un-sibyl; if the soul
Has the weight of a swallow

This poem is so lovely the way it begins—not with the oracular women of ancient Greece but with the hiss of the sibilant “s’s.”

We think of the tea leaves and contemplate the future yet “Wait,”  we say, as we remind ourselves that the title of the poem is “Tea-Strainer” which evokes what remains—or that that was “formerly, our future.”

What is our future? I just know for me it is personally BIG. It must be because I think of  the future a lot—although usually in the sense of worry and woe and not with the buoyancy of hope and excitement.

McSweeney’s poem reminds me of the importance of the moment of living—that the writing of this post will soon be part of my past—as soon will be my trip to India.

I N D I A! but somehow as I get ready to begin the journey today, the future does feel BIG.

Tea time in Istanbul, 2014
Tea time in Istanbul, 2014

#ZEEJaipurLitfFest   #India2015

Read more about Joyelle McSweeney here. 

Poetry at the Post: “At the Rodin Museum” by Tishani Doshi

AT THE RODIN MUSEUM by Tishani Doshi

Rilke is following me everywhere

with his tailor-made suits

and vegetarian smile.

Portrait of Rilke by Paula Modersohn-Becker. 1906.
Portrait of Rilke by Paula Modersohn-Becker. 1906.

At this exact moment next week, I will be in the sky on my way to India. YES! I N D I A!

Just the thought of India  causes a wave of emotions that simulates the flow of the country’s name as it moves from the back of the throat to the tongue and palette and ends with the AH as it floats out the mouth. AH INDIA!

I’ll be traveling with a group of 15 other writers and the meat of our 10 day trip is The Jaipur Literary Festival. Billed as the “largest FREE literary festival on earth,” there will be close to 300 speakers, thousands of attendees, events in tents and gardens—and time for tea! (Tea time is at 4:30 pm)

In sorting through the list of speakers, I discovered Tishani Doshi—a Chennai-born poet, author, journalist and dancer.

Her poetry is inspired, important and full of the unexpected. There is always the element of  surprise—as in her poem “At the Rodin Museum.” It took me a couple of reads to realize that it was the poet Rilke following the poet speaker and not the artist Rodin.

Why Rilke at the Rodin? I’m not sure but I do know the two had a connection—in fact, the reason for Rilke’s first trip to Paris in 1902 was to write a monograph on Rodin.

He sees how I’m a giant piece

of glass again, trying

to catch the sun

in remote corners of rooms,

mountain tops,….

The Kedar Range of the Greater Himalayas rises behind Kedarnath Temple (Indian state of Uttarakhand), which is one of the twelve jyotirlinga shrines. Photo by Kaustabh CC by  S.A. 3.0
The Kedar Range of the Greater Himalayas rises behind Kedarnath Temple (Indian state of Uttarakhand), which is one of the twelve jyotirlinga shrines.
Photo by Kaustabh CC by S.A. 3.0