It can be a daunting task to work with such talented writers/poets as Indie Blu(e) Publishing has had the fortune of working with. Somrita Urni Ganguly is no exception. We met via The Kali Project and have followed her work since. She is literally an explosion of talent and energy and the very best slam-poetry live speaker we’ve seen in a very long time. Somrita’s boundless energy and enthusiasm is infectious and a beautiful thing to witness. She truly loves what she does and that’s probably one of many reasons she’s so good at everything she turns her hand to.
Somrita Urni Ganguly is a professor, poet and literary translator. She was a Fulbright Doctoral Research Fellow at Brown University, and is an alumna of the University of East Anglia’s International Literary Translation and Creative Writing Summer School. She served as a judge for the PEN America Translation Prize, and an Expert Reader for the English PEN Translation Grant, the National Translation Award (USA), and the National Endowment for the Arts Translation Grant offered by the US federal government.
Somrita is currently Head of the Department of English, Maharaja Manindra Chandra College, University of Calcutta, and has co-founded The Writing Programme in India. Her work has been showcased at the London Book Fair and she has read in cities like Bloomington, Bombay, Boston, Calcutta, Cove, Delhi, Hyderabad, Miami, and Providence. There is something powerful to witness Somrita reading a poem. It’s beyond the brilliance of the writing, she throws her entire spirit into reading, she has the whole room enraptured by her passion for the subject and it’s an experience like a concert, not just a reading.
Somrita has delivered lectures and presented her work at several institutes around the world including the University of Pennsylvania, Princeton University, the National University of Singapore, Bath Spa University, the Emily Dickinson Museum at Amherst, the American Literary Translators Association, the Oregon Society of Translators and Interpreters, and the University of Nottingham. This comes as no surprise. She literally has her finger on the pulse of what matters to young, educated, intelligent Indian women and women throughout the world. On subjects of skin color, body, sexual freedom, and sexual assault, she speaks loudly without apology, and with great truth.
Somrita edited the first anthology of food poems, Quesadilla and Other Adventures (2019), and translated 3 Stories: Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay (2021), Firesongs (2019), Shakuni (2019), and The Midnight Sun: Love Lyrics and Farewell Songs (2018), among other works. She is a recipient of the Jawaharlal Nehru Memorial Fund Award and the Sarojini Dutta Memorial Prize. No surprise there, she’s teaming with good ideas and enthusiasm for her next project, it’s incredible she does so much, and still has time to deliver some of the most provocative, honest and intense readings yet:
Somrita says: “Words are my way of processing emotions: hurt, anger, love, pain, trauma; and of making sense of the world when things seem to be falling apart. I am a voracious reader, but I am not a disciplined writer; that is to say, I do not meticulously write a sonnet every fortnight, or haiku on changing seasons every year. I write when I can no longer hold the words in me, when I’m choking on them, when they come rushing out of me: ink bleeding on paper. “
“I am currently working on four wildly different literary translation projects: one is a brief history of the print industry in Darjeeling; the second is a work of historical fiction on the Nobel Laureate Rabindranath Tagore’s mother, the third is a gangster-novel-meets-Jack-Kerouac, and the fourth a Bangla graphic novel.”
(Somehow! Despite working full time as well!) “I also put together an anthology of poems about places, people, homecoming, and home-leaving that I wrote over the last five years. It’s called The Architecture of Dreams, and I am now, somewhat hesitantly, embarking on the arduous but fulfilling journey of looking for a publisher for this work.” if you’re reading this and you know of a publisher who appreciates brilliance, you might want to let them know about Somrita. Translation is no easy thing; Somrita translates from Bangla and Hindi to English. She was selected by the National Centre for Writing, UK, as an emerging translator in 2016, and invited as translator-in-residence at Cove Park, Scotland, UK.
When Candice Louisa Daquin of Indie Blu(e) Publishing and Megha Sood, worked with Somrita Urni Ganguly on The Kali Project, they were both blown away by her sincerity and desire to change the world positively. Covers of books are always debatable, and as a valued contributor to the anthology, Somrita contacted the editors with questions about how Kali had been depicted. We discussed it at length until all parties were assured we were not attempting to be disrespectful.
Indie Blu(e) is founded on the promotion of minority rights, and stands for equality and integrity. But Somrita didn’t know us then and she had the moral courage to ask us directly which we think says a lot about her generation and her commitment to being an ethical and good human being. After all, if we questioned things more often instead of letting them slide, we wouldn’t have some of the issues we have today – would we? This alone marks Somrita Urni Ganguly as a person of worth and integrity, and that’s without considering how talented she is in everything she turns her hand to.
There is a river in Canning, called
Matla (n., meaning: intoxicated/ the first couplet in a ghazal).
I would like to be her, someday:
a drunk roaring raging raving poem of a river
Our rivers never get judged.
All the online videos of Somrita’s LIVE readings are HERE and she’s just a BRILLIANT live poetry reader so please if you do one thing today give her a listen. You will be very glad you did!
Links to your work published online: Read: https://somritaurniganguly.wordpress.com/read-2/Shop: https://www.amazon.in/Books-Somrita-Urni-Ganguly/
Your website: https://somritaurniganguly.wordpress.com/
Any social media links:Facebook: www.facebook.com/urni.g
Instagram: @blessed.damsel ( www.instagram.com/blessed.damsel/ )Twitter: @blessed_damsel ( https://twitter.com/blessed_damsel )YouTube: www.youtube.com/user/theunputdownable
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