Catapult

Catapult Catapult publishes books, produces a daily web magazine, offers writing classes, and hosts an open online writing platform. Catapult publishes books, produces a daily web magazine, offers writing classes, and hosts an open online writing community.

From the founders of Electric Literature and Black Balloon Publishing. Catapult is headquartered in New York, NY, with a second office in Portland, OR. Have a question? Shoot us an email at [email protected]

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Operating as usual

"Gorgeously rendered . . . this study of memory and grief features a young woman trying to pull her brother back from th...
03/21/2021
The Best Debut Novels of Spring and Summer 2021

"Gorgeously rendered . . . this study of memory and grief features a young woman trying to pull her brother back from the edge after their mother’s death."

Library Journal picks BROTHER, SISTER, MOTHER, EXPLORER as a Best Debut Novel of Spring & Summer!

LJ’s thrice-yearly list of debut novels showcases premise and promise. Herewith 50 titles to watch for and savor.

“FAKE ACCOUNTS [is] a story that is mostly about the effects of exposure to the Internet on the self. . . . This is a po...
03/21/2021
I, Phone

“FAKE ACCOUNTS [is] a story that is mostly about the effects of exposure to the Internet on the self. . . . This is a portrait of a person made incredibly ill by the Internet. She may be going mad and trying to take us down with her.” —Choire Sicha on Lauren Oyler’s debut novel for the New York Review of Books

Why do I feel so bad all the time is the question asked by so many young people today. In order to sneak a bite-size amount of control and warm feeling

The AU Review calls Jamie Figueroa‘s BROTHER, SISTER, MOTHER, EXPLORER “a truly original debut” and “an absolute must re...
03/20/2021

The AU Review calls Jamie Figueroa‘s BROTHER, SISTER, MOTHER, EXPLORER “a truly original debut” and “an absolute must read” — we couldn’t agree more!

https://buff.ly/3vLayau

"A body for a body is a kind of justice, right?" In this short story by Alysandra Dutton, there are werewolves among the...
03/20/2021
Camp Games | Alysandra Dutton

"A body for a body is a kind of justice, right?" In this short story by Alysandra Dutton, there are werewolves among the villagers—the campers—in this game of power, trust, mob mentality:

Werewolves, you unscathed bastards, open your eyes and decide who to kill.

"Isn’t it funny, how they revel? Are there souls hovering over our shoulders while we drink and kiss?" In this short sto...
03/20/2021
Camp Games | Alysandra Dutton

"Isn’t it funny, how they revel? Are there souls hovering over our shoulders while we drink and kiss?" In this short story by Alysandra Dutton, there are werewolves among the villagers—the campers—in this game of power, trust, mob mentality:

Werewolves, you unscathed bastards, open your eyes and decide who to kill.

"Most go first to the Family’s cosmetics launch for the new fall collection, featuring the limited-edition Grief palette...
03/19/2021
The Festivities of Dying | Tom Garback

"Most go first to the Family’s cosmetics launch for the new fall collection, featuring the limited-edition Grief palette." A new short story by Tom Garback:

An old man walking by says, “When you laugh at someone’s pain, you’re dying inside,” and the model calls back, “No one’s in pain here, grandpa.”

"A noble and large-souled work of literature."It's excellent to see Sam Sacks celebrate Semezdin Mehmedinović's new MY H...
03/19/2021
Fiction: ‘My Heart’ Review

"A noble and large-souled work of literature."

It's excellent to see Sam Sacks celebrate Semezdin Mehmedinović's new MY HEART alongside other new books by authors from the former Yugoslavia for The Wall Street Journal!

Plus ‘Speak, Silence,’ ‘The President Shop’ and ‘From Nowhere to Nowhere.’

From the poem "Time Lapse" by Gabrielle Bates: "A hummingbird is pulled like a bull / toward the loudest reds, / lands o...
03/19/2021
Time Lapse | Gabrielle Bates

From the poem "Time Lapse" by Gabrielle Bates: "A hummingbird is pulled like a bull / toward the loudest reds, / lands on the inmost branch to preen // where only I with window view can see / the arching back of her green torso."

In a time lapse, nothing happens smoothly. / Red horns quake as they splinter / from limbs on the bottlebrush.

"A body for a body is a kind of justice, right?" In this short story by Alysandra Dutton, there are werewolves among the...
03/19/2021
Camp Games | Alysandra Dutton

"A body for a body is a kind of justice, right?" In this short story by Alysandra Dutton, there are werewolves among the villagers—the campers—in this game of power, trust, mob mentality:

Werewolves, you unscathed bastards, open your eyes and decide who to kill.

"I wanted to be asked why. I wanted to be asked what’s wrong. I wanted to yell and be yelled at, for the silence to snap...
03/19/2021
What Adopting A Dog Taught Me About My Eating Disorder | Laura Jensen

"I wanted to be asked why. I wanted to be asked what’s wrong. I wanted to yell and be yelled at, for the silence to snap in two." An essay by Laura Jensen on adopting a puppy and grappling with an eating disorder during the pandemic:

During those first weeks, I was in a never-ending, often failing battle with Penny, then an eight-pound roly-poly of a beagle

"Maybe dark-skinned girls with brown eyes and plump bodies were not beautiful," Renée Watson writes. "This is when I lea...
03/19/2021
I Wasn't Supposed to Love Me | Renée Watson

"Maybe dark-skinned girls with brown eyes and plump bodies were not beautiful," Renée Watson writes. "This is when I learned that what was true at home was not true everywhere."

Nothing has gotten better—not the pandemic, not racism—but I know, and the Black women in my life tell me so, that everything will be alright.

"Gorgeously rendered . . . this study of memory and grief features a young woman trying to pull her brother back from th...
03/19/2021

"Gorgeously rendered . . . this study of memory and grief features a young woman trying to pull her brother back from the edge after their mother’s death."

Library Journal picks BROTHER, SISTER, MOTHER, EXPLORER as a Best Debut Novel of Spring & Summer!

https://buff.ly/3s35pIp

"At my mouth, closed and wanting: how dare you? It was a question I feared and craved: direct, urgent, maybe even loving...
03/19/2021
What Adopting A Dog Taught Me About My Eating Disorder | Laura Jensen

"At my mouth, closed and wanting: how dare you? It was a question I feared and craved: direct, urgent, maybe even loving if held up in the right light." An essay by Laura Jensen on adopting a puppy and grappling with an eating disorder during the pandemic:

During those first weeks, I was in a never-ending, often failing battle with Penny, then an eight-pound roly-poly of a beagle

"I grew up feeling like I was too much, too big. That I took up too much space. But I grew up knowing I had a momma who ...
03/18/2021
I Wasn't Supposed to Love Me | Renée Watson

"I grew up feeling like I was too much, too big. That I took up too much space. But I grew up knowing I had a momma who loved me so much, she would die for me." Renée Watson writes.

Nothing has gotten better—not the pandemic, not racism—but I know, and the Black women in my life tell me so, that everything will be alright.

"Before then, I’m not sure that I knew that girls really sang rock music. But then there was Paramore, their music and t...
03/18/2021
Finding Strength in Softness Through Hayley Williams | Olivia Pace

"Before then, I’m not sure that I knew that girls really sang rock music. But then there was Paramore, their music and their front woman expressing a wild and colorful rage." Olivia Pace on what Hayley Williams taught her about vulnerability:

Hayley’s rage-filled vocals provided an emotional outlet that gave voice to loss, anger, and confusion I couldn’t put words to yet.

“FAKE ACCOUNTS [is] a story that is mostly about the effects of exposure to the Internet on the self. . . . This is a po...
03/18/2021

“FAKE ACCOUNTS [is] a story that is mostly about the effects of exposure to the Internet on the self. . . . This is a portrait of a person made incredibly ill by the Internet. She may be going mad and trying to take us down with her.” —Choire Sicha on Lauren Oyler’s debut novel for the New York Review of Books

https://buff.ly/3bYCYpu

🏠 Cover reveal! 🏠Today we're showing off GENTRIFIER, a new memoir from Ann Elizabeth Moore. Our cover was designed by Da...
03/18/2021

🏠 Cover reveal! 🏠
Today we're showing off GENTRIFIER, a new memoir from Ann Elizabeth Moore.
Our cover was designed by Dana LI, with Nicole Caputo Design as Art Director.
Gentrifier is on shelves October 19th, and you can get those preorders in now!
http://bit.ly/GentrifierBook

Taking on the thorny ethics of owning and selling property as a white woman in a majority Black city and a majority Bangladeshi neighborhood with both intelligence and humor, this memoir brings a new perspective to a Detroit that finds itself perpetually on the brink of revitalization.

🏠 "The best book I’ve read on this freighted subject ... A tour de force by a writer who is smart enough to let activism and absurdity sit side by side, and let them go. I’m in awe.” —Paul Lisicky

Accompanied by her cats, Moore moves to a bungalow in a new city where she gardens, befriends the neighborhood youth, and grows to intimately understand civic collapse and community solidarity. When the troubled history of her prize house comes to light, Moore finds her life destabilized by the aftershocks of the housing crisis and governmental corruption.

This is also a memoir of art, gender, work, and survival. Moore writes into the gaps of Woolf’s declaration that “a woman must have money and a room of one’s own if she is to write”; what if this woman were q***r and living with chronic illness, as Moore is, or a South Asian immigrant, like Moore’s neighbors? And what if her primary coping mechanism was jokes?

Part investigation, part comedy of a vexing city, and part love letter to girlhood, Gentrifier examines capitalism, property ownership, and whiteness, asking if we can ever really win when violence and profit are inextricably linked with victory.

This is a book I hope we'll ALL be discussing this fall!

"It is a truth universally acknowledged that a crazy person in possession of an episode must be in want of a bed." A new...
03/18/2021
We Don’t Want More Beds, We Want Disability Justice | s.e. smith

"It is a truth universally acknowledged that a crazy person in possession of an episode must be in want of a bed." A new installment of s.e. smith's An Unquiet Mind, on the problems of institutionalization and what disability justice should look like:

Beds transmute into a form of policing while simultaneously being promoted as an alternative to policing.

"Maybe dark-skinned girls with brown eyes and plump bodies were not beautiful," Renée Watson writes. "This is when I lea...
03/18/2021
I Wasn't Supposed to Love Me | Renée Watson

"Maybe dark-skinned girls with brown eyes and plump bodies were not beautiful," Renée Watson writes. "This is when I learned that what was true at home was not true everywhere."

Nothing has gotten better—not the pandemic, not racism—but I know, and the Black women in my life tell me so, that everything will be alright.

"Maybe it’s a cruel irony that loving food is what has made my body unacceptable to so many, yet loving food is also the...
03/18/2021
Dear IU, Our Bodies Are Fine | Giaae Kwon

"Maybe it’s a cruel irony that loving food is what has made my body unacceptable to so many, yet loving food is also the thing that has kept me alive." In her From a K-pop Fan, With Love column, Giaae Kwon writes about IU, impossible beauty standards, and healing from disordered eating:

I know that IU, too, understands what it’s like to tie her self-worth to her body; to be judged for how she looks.

"Bodies do not speak for us, and if mine did, it was not saying what any of us needed to hear." An essay by Laura Jensen...
03/18/2021
What Adopting A Dog Taught Me About My Eating Disorder | Laura Jensen

"Bodies do not speak for us, and if mine did, it was not saying what any of us needed to hear." An essay by Laura Jensen on adopting a puppy and grappling with an eating disorder during the pandemic:

During those first weeks, I was in a never-ending, often failing battle with Penny, then an eight-pound roly-poly of a beagle

"This rage is not just because of what happened to me and now is happening to another generation, but also because I kno...
03/18/2021
A Black Physicist Is Borne Back Ceaselessly Into the Past | Chanda Prescod-Weinstein

"This rage is not just because of what happened to me and now is happening to another generation, but also because I know what it is like to live in the wake." A new essay by Chanda Prescod-Weinstein:

I became a physicist to share stories of the cosmos I love, not constantly speak on how we are cut off from them by white supremacy.

"My friends and study partners refused to acknowledge the obvious: a Black woman—even a light-skinned one—violated every...
03/18/2021
A Black Physicist Is Borne Back Ceaselessly Into the Past | Chanda Prescod-Weinstein

"My friends and study partners refused to acknowledge the obvious: a Black woman—even a light-skinned one—violated everything we had been taught about who belonged in physics." A new essay by Chanda Prescod-Weinstein:

I became a physicist to share stories of the cosmos I love, not constantly speak on how we are cut off from them by white supremacy.

"Today, it seems, was the day I was meant to die.""[A] powerful, at once profound and charming book.” —Francine Prose, T...
03/17/2021

"Today, it seems, was the day I was meant to die."

"[A] powerful, at once profound and charming book.” —Francine Prose, The New York Times Book Review

My Heart by Semezdin Mehmedinović is available now!
https://buff.ly/2O3c3j9

03/17/2021

"For all her various contrived public personas and her possibly manufactured cult following, Swift can write." Anne Putnam on what Taylor Swift's masterful songwriting can teach us about brevity:

Only 3 spots left in our upcoming online poetry workshop. Register today!
03/17/2021
Electric Literature

Only 3 spots left in our upcoming online poetry workshop. Register today!

Sign up now for our partner Catapult’s online poetry workshop with Natasha Oladokun! Class starts soon—grab your spot today.

"I am forced to live in a parallel world to the one I wanted to live in, where I could have been a physicist without als...
03/17/2021
A Black Physicist Is Borne Back Ceaselessly Into the Past | Chanda Prescod-Weinstein

"I am forced to live in a parallel world to the one I wanted to live in, where I could have been a physicist without also being asked to speak on or compensate for the persistent racism of institutions." An essay by Chanda Prescod-Weinstein:

I became a physicist to share stories of the cosmos I love, not constantly speak on how we are cut off from them by white supremacy.

"The promotion of beds and people to guide crazy people to them then becomes a swapping of authority figures, white coat...
03/17/2021
We Don’t Want More Beds, We Want Disability Justice | s.e. smith

"The promotion of beds and people to guide crazy people to them then becomes a swapping of authority figures, white coats for blue uniforms." A new installment of s.e. smith An Unquiet Mind, on the problems of institutionalization and what disability justice should look like:

Beds transmute into a form of policing while simultaneously being promoted as an alternative to policing.

"I first regretted / I’d ever been born when I felt / uncommonly // bad. You are bad. But badness is as common / as quar...
03/16/2021
Some Days | Cate Lycurgus

"I first regretted / I’d ever been born when I felt / uncommonly // bad. You are bad. But badness is as common / as quartz, & seldom found / on its own, // in a pure state." Read and listen to this poem by Cate Lycurgus:

Some days come too soon.

The Rumpus features Jamie Figueroa’s 3/17 Loyalty Bookstore event where she’ll be in conversation with Carla Bruce-Eddin...
03/16/2021

The Rumpus features Jamie Figueroa’s 3/17 Loyalty Bookstore event where she’ll be in conversation with Carla Bruce-Eddings to talk her debut novel BROTHER, SISTER, MOTHER, EXPLORER!

https://buff.ly/3vvyHBv

"My maps dot is moving freely through a German city." In the final installment of their column "Binding in Berlin," Jenn...
03/16/2021
Belting Jewish Prayers in German Nightclubs | Jenna Zucker

"My maps dot is moving freely through a German city." In the final installment of their column "Binding in Berlin," Jenna Zucker finds a drag show that celebrates every part of themselves: Jewish, q***r, and a descendent of Holocaust survivors. Read it now:

Months later, when people ask me to briefly describe my experiences in Berlin, I tell them I felt Jewish during the day and q***r at night.

"Across this great nation of ours, crazy people can be forced to take medication or institutionalized against their will...
03/16/2021
We Don’t Want More Beds, We Want Disability Justice | s.e. smith

"Across this great nation of ours, crazy people can be forced to take medication or institutionalized against their will and amazingly, sane people congratulate themselves for this." A new installment of s.e. smith's An Unquiet Mind, on the problems of institutionalization and what disability justice should look like:

Beds transmute into a form of policing while simultaneously being promoted as an alternative to policing.

"It is the fate of ghosts to rely on affirmations—ghosts depend on the recognition of an outsider to exist. And so, it i...
03/16/2021
Visible Invisibility: The Ghostly Nature of Queer-Reading | Michael Elias

"It is the fate of ghosts to rely on affirmations—ghosts depend on the recognition of an outsider to exist. And so, it is the fate of ghosts to be themselves haunted by their own deniability." @itwastrash on recognizing and being recognized in media and life

Michael Elias on recognizing, being recognized, and the haunted feeling of seeing what others cannot.

From the poem "A Letter to My Mother, or Ode to Invisible Things" by Ryan Dzelzkalns: "Dear unstoppable face of the moon...
03/16/2021
A Letter to My Mother, or Ode to Invisible Things | Ryan Dzelzkalns

From the poem "A Letter to My Mother, or Ode to Invisible Things" by Ryan Dzelzkalns: "Dear unstoppable face of the moon, you are the charm of the well-placed tchotchke, the house that feels empty without you."

Dear sudden inspiration, creeping uncertainty, tiny splinter of glass, / sometimes you cannot be enough.

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From my WIP entitled "God, Send Sunday": "Papa stepped off the porch and faced the man. Why had he said the man was white when clearly he was the loudest shade of pink Sunday had ever seen?"
Hannah Walhout's article on New York was quite wonderful. It was definitely New Yorker style writing in more ways than one.
I just finished "Before and After the Book Deal: A Writer’s Guide to Finishing, Publishing, Promoting, and Surviving Your First Book" by Courtney Maum and I will be recommending it to many of my writer friends!
A Country Muse “Hear Sir! I write poetry far better than anyone on earth,” the young man claimed. “Oh! You don’t believe I can show you that.” He came close and demanded to read the yellow lines printed on his black t-shirt. I glued to the words, and as the t-shirt was tattered, and washed more than hundred times, many letters lost their sheen. You need to apply your imagination to have a sense of the poem. I failed to decipher the lines, but said with a sweet voice, “Wow! I’ve never read such a beautiful poem in my life!” “Eh, where do you find beauty?” He asked with a sneer, and apparently had been much pained with my words. “Why, man, I found beauty in each letter you pen.” I tried to mollify his wrath. But he was gloom and dark. A silence sustained. I felt shaken for my misdeed. The air was cool, and the day pleasant. The sun was mellow, and its soft rays fell on us through the laced twigs of lovely trees. The water of the pond riffled with a low murmur. Birds flew and sang dolefully among the bushes and thickets. The ducks paddled in glee in the gleaming water. A fishy smell smothered us. “You, the educated, always find beauty in everything—beauty in nature, beauty in women, beauty in poetry, even beauty in the poor. Eh…Where is beauty? Huh.., this poem is written not with ink. Each letter is dripped and soaked with my own blood. Huh…beauty?” He spat, and the air flung it far. He looked me hard, eyes forcibly wide, and face flushed with anger and disdain. “Where is the blood? It’s printed in a machine. Do you have a textile factory?” I feigned nonplused. He was terribly dismayed. He said nothing, as if he suddenly lost words. He squinted at me with derision. His eyes glittered, and a spasm of ache ran through his face. He jumped up with energy, and hurried a few paces away. But he came back, and said, “Blood, you can’t see, as you’re blind. Why do you keep eyes? Go to Nripen Mitra Eye Care, and donate them.” “That I do at when I die.” I quipped. “Hear Sir! And don’t forget. You may be a professor, but I’m your teacher.” He said with conviction, and thumped the soil hard, and his dangling hand was covered with dust, and the rays of the late noon sun began to play chiaroscuro before our eyes. “Why do I write? Do you know? Any idea?” He stooped his head, and it hung heavy. “Because you love it.” I plainly said. “But I’m asking now why do I love it?” He shouted shaking his head. A strain of fresh spit covered his thick lower lip, and his mouth was watery. “How can I tell that, man? I never know you and your poetry. Some write for name, some for posts and parks, the elegant and rich take it as hobby; the fashionables indulge in it as mere pastime. And we all love it. Your particular case I know not.” I bluntly said. He grasped or not I couldn’t tell. But he nodded his head, and said, “Sir, I’m writing since childhood. And I can tell you even the exact date. It was June 28, Monday morning when my father died. It was a heavy weeklong downpour, fields and ponds flooded. Villagers kept shut in huts. Many were washed away. We cried long. At noon the rain slowed, and we brought the dead to the burning ghat. We somehow made an odd plank with woods, wet and soaked, and poured two drums of kerosene oil over it. Father lie naked, and I set fire to his mouth. The body was not getting burnt, it was smouldering. My neighbours took bamboo poles and beat and beat, until they got tired. They thrashed his skeletons. And then Vangha Das, a tall dark man with a huge paunch and long untrimmed whiskers, a specialist in cracking heads hit and broke my father’s skull. It splattered like a ripe melon. I came home, swapped and sucked. And after midnight I wrote my first poem, “Mrituya” (Death). And I kept the draft in a tin trunk at a corner of my hut. At my restless days and nights I read it aloud, keeping me shut, and dark at my hole.” “Ask me why, why I write?” He stirred his legs unstopped, and stared at me. “Why?” “To kill pain, Sir.” “What pains? You’re young, and perhaps you have a good wife and a lovely child.” I remarked. “I’m unmarried,” he protested thumping his breast and told, “in old school days I fell in love with a girl. She was a beauty. You can’t find such a nice girl nowhere. But I was a student, and her father refused me her hand. I cried, and I penned many poems to soothe me. She loved my words, and at night lone she sang. We never talked. Only now and then stolen glances we exchanged. She knew the depths of my love, my admiration, and I dreamed her day and night. Then one day she stopped coming school, and I heard she eloped with a man of two children.” “So what? Fall in love again with any girl of your choice. Who Cares? It was so cool in today’s world.” I flatly said. “Are you a profe-saar? You’re talking like a…a low fellow. Huh… with such mentality you teach. Shame, shame on you!” He squeezed his face, and spat with a loud noise, and fell silent again. “Why man, love knows no time, no clime, no age. And I’m not asking you to marry and fetter your soul. I only ask you to fall in love, sacred and pure. And what’s wrong with that?” I extended. “Nah, nah… I’m happy with my life and my poetry. I don’t hate girls, but I shun them. I fear intruders into my little world of poetry.” He told, and looked earnest. “Oh, it’s fine. Have you published any poem?” “I’ve no luxury to do that. I have an acre of farm lands, and a yard of betel nut rows, and I live on that. Hah, Dr. Satidhar Rai, editor of Mujnai published some of my poems. But one day he called me, and asked to sell 200 copies to my friends and known faces. I declined before his face, ‘Saar, I don’t sell poems; I’m a poet, I only pen it.’ Since then he stopped me publishing.” He paused for a while thoughtfully, and then softly said, “I pen on sheets, and often print them on shirts and pants. My friend Amit has a printing machine. He does it free. And you know I have no ambition. A poor village poet I’m, and love to remain so. And see, not only on clothes, I also etched them on my skin.” He removed his t-shirt, and threw it away. It fell on a twig beyond, and hung like a scarecrow. He turned his back, and I saw, it was painted all with a green sketch ink. He pushed me to read. I tried and failed again. Only some dying words I could discover with much difficulty. The wind blew and yellow leaves fell on us. We made cozy leafy cushions, and sat on them. A cuckoo cooed tirelessly from a tree nearby. A kingfisher sat still on a lone stray branch, and its eyes set on the gliding water. The sky was all blue. The sun was rich and soft. Peasants, men and women, yonder were all busy weeding potato fields. “How many poems have you written?” I asked, and he said nothing. He looked weird, and a line of pain ran across his sunken cheeks, bearded and scabbard and jaded. His small eyes glowed, and gleamed in a way that thousands tales one could read there. “Countless Sir! My trunk is filled, and I now keep them on everywhere—bed, four corners of my hut, kitchen. And Sir, at my hut you can’t keep feet without nudging them. I write on boundary tins, clothes, utensils, plastic jars. My yard was scratched, and nut trees embossed all. In rain my poems bath, and in sun they bask.” He laughed so loud that birds made a flutter from trees. “Anything else you love, man?” I asked looking at the greeneries of the fields, and heard the rustle of the leaves. A leafless shimul tree was in full bloom, and its underneath was covered with gory scentless flowers. The man sat bare. The day was pleasant, and the place was a bit cold. “Oh…,” he smiled, “nothing much of that. I like fishing. But I don’t kill them. I catch fish, see them gasping for life for a minute or two, and freed them in crystal water. Sometime I pelt pebbles in ponds hours after hours. I also frequent forest to see tall trees standing still. I love to hear the buzz of bees, and cries of peacocks, but what I love most is to hear the sad silence of long wintry night and to watch and count the sparkling stars hung heavy over my tin shade.” “Oh! What a beautiful life you lead!” I exclaimed. “No beauty, please. It’s simple. I love simple things.” He warned me with an air of authority. He scratched his head, brushed his face again and again, scrambled his back pocket and lighted a bidi. He smoked, and asked me to forgive him for this little pleasure. “What I have Sir, …nothing,” he sighed, and began, “you know I have no bad habits—no women, no wine. I smoke bidi (a cheap smoke), and write at dark night. The things I need—a pen, a bidi, and a dark corner. I’m not a poet of moon, and sun, and stars. I’m a poet of pain. And I write poem not for fame or name. I write to quench the pangs of my birth. You understand, not laugh. Everybody writing poetry, hu… it’s not so easy and baby thing. All are not poets, a very few are.” He looked fierce, his eyes burnt. He spat, and with a mournful look he sat silent, and began to count lines of his palm, and muttered. And suddenly he hinged out a crumpled paper from his hind pocket and began to read so loud that some peasants soon left weeding, and hurried, and circled us. He commands all for being silent, coughed, straightened the sheet, readied himself and began to shriek, “Jago amar maa ar ghumayo naa “(Awake mother, no more sleep) Tomare fele jodi choli (If I leave you) Pothe jodi bipod ase (If darkness comes in my path) Dakbo kare maa? (Whom I call?) Nirapode tumi chhhaya (You are my safe shelter) Tomar kole, tomar buker (Lying on your lap) Dugdho tene (Sucking your breasts) Ei prithibir prothom alo (First light of the earth) Peyechi ami maa…” (I see…) ” He stopped, and kissed the sheet thrice, and sounded aha ha ha, oh oh ohhoho, and began to cry. He cleared his nose, and tears ran down, making his beard greasy. The peasants were all silent, and stared us still. The scent of fresh mud entered my nostrils. And they were so overwhelmed, and they almost bent over us. I could see nothing, only the bare mud caked, dusty legs, and the toes all flat like the ducks pointing towards us. An old pale lean woman among the crowd wiped her eyes with the end of her soiled sari, and pitied the man, “Why do you cry, bachha (boy). Your mother is no more. So what, I’m your mother. Come, I caress you.” Suddenly the man stopped crying, and tried hard to figure out his mother, and when found, he looked quizzically straight at her, and said with a serene voice, “You are my maa, it’s all right maa. But underneath lays another thought. Can you tell me that anyone? I ask you all.” His burning eyes slowly surveyed the dull faces of the peasants one by one. The peasants eyed one another, and stood silent, gaped and yawned. He then raised his voice and shouted, “Why won’t you die? Why do you live at all, you all are rustic fools!” He spat. I sat silent. He pushed me and asked, “Sir! What will do they? The mother of my poem is all’s mother—Bharat maataaa. Huh… it’s not so easy; a poem isn’t a baby thing! He cried loud and fainted.