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Inaugural Issue, Winter 2022


Shiuli was envisioned two years ago in early 2021. We wanted to develop a platform where creativity and criticism would come together and produce a substantial collection of ideas. Together the editorial team constituting of Prashant, Mekhala Chattopadhyay, Srestha Chakraborty, Prashant Tiwari, Nashra, Ramesh Kumar Mahtha, Uzma Sarwat, Subhankar Dutta, Shyam Sundar Pal, Pragya Dev, Vidisha Bagul, and I worked tirelessly to see the day when Shiuli would finally bloom. It was decided that the biannual issues of Shiuli should be based on themes so one could delve deep into an idea from the three dimensions of literary creativity, visual creativity, and critical discussion via organised Talks. The inaugural issue is centred on the theme of ‘Local Myths.’ For this issue, we received numerous submissions for which we are thankful to all the poets and artists who took the trouble to send their works to us. The selection procedure is based on style, content, and relevance to the theme. Keeping these points in mind, we have come up with this issue, which features some very interesting works of poets and artists from different countries.

The poetry section includes myths from India, the Caribbean, Ireland, ancient Greece, ancient Egypt etc. which work with the ideas pertaining to the body, history, memory, colonialism, ancestry, divinity, death, dreams, self-destruction, love, nature and so on. Poornima Laxmeshwar’s “7” is a haunting deliberation on the number 7 with reference to the myth of Lord Mailara, religious processions of self-harm and the attempts of a mother to safeguard her daughter from despair by the practice of religious rituals while the daughter attempts to overcome the troubles by playing the 7 notes of the sitar. Basudhara Roy in “Of Kings and Rivers” evokes the myths of the river Ganga, Dushyant, Janki along with the newer stories of Heer Ranjha, Mirza Sahiban and Laila Majnu in discussing love, possession, and remembrance. In “Exorcised” she writes about the relationship between the body and the spirit from the perspectives of possession, physical suffering, and divine deliverance seen in the figures of Goddess Kali and Chinnamasta. Bruce McRae in “On a Chair” creates a startling account in the first person on Egyptian myths with timelessness looming like an undying spirit over the Nile, blue and white. Arun Paria’s “Sweet Tamarind” traces memory back to one’s ancestor and unites the emotion of belongingness with the majestic tamarind tree that stands like a living and sensuous witness to the inevitable passage of time and youth. Martin Willits Jr in “Pelvis with Moon” refers to the painting by Georgia O’Keeffe of the same title, and through the central image of the cattle pelvis with the moon in the background discusses the inexplicable sorrow that comes with the death of one’s mother, along with the soothing images of Diana, the moon Goddess, as a kind nurse. Anita Howard in “KILCOLMAN” gives a contemporary glimpse of the historical castle in Ireland, which has seen invasions and violence in the past. Today when the poet looks at the silent castle standing calmly in the fields in the “early evening sunlight”, she has visions of “Knights, shepherds and Greek gods” amidst the ivy-covered stone walls, a vision which is dismantled at night in her dreams of the fires of the past. Finally, in “Osuna,” Marianne Tefft presents the images of assertion by the indigenous culture against colonial powers and the tenacity of local myth and culture to sustain the politically marginalised: “Moko Jumbie pours forth her guardian light.” In the Visual Arts section, Nilanjan Show presents the myth and mystery of Aloknanda, a river in the Himalayas with mythical associations. His etching and woodwork pieces brood on myth with human figures in dark tints that welcome introspection on the themes of self-discovery and queer identity. Deshna Jain’s piece depicts three figures of women against a black background, a work which evokes a strong sense of patience and solidarity. Irina Tall (Novikova), in her five paintings, presents the human form in the midst of the crises of climate change, war and extinction. Sonjaye Maurya in his three pieces celebrates the vibrancy and colours of the various expressions of the human figures in the context of rural India.

We feel immensely grateful to the poets and artists whose works are featured in this issue. Every piece deserves a separate discussion, and certainly, no justice could be done in this short editorial. These works give us fantastic glimpses of myths from across the world on a wide range of topics. I do hope thatShiuli will continue to catalogue, present, and discuss such interesting works in the future.

Amritendu Ghosal