Rasaka Theatre Company Seeking Submissions

Chicago's Rasaka Theatre Company, the Midwest’s first South Asian-American theatre company, is accepting submissions for the follow-up to its January 2009 hit “Yoni ki Baat” (inspired by The Vagina Monologues). This time we are looking to present both the female AND male point of view in “Yoni & Lingam ki Baat.”

Please submit monologues or poems where you (as yourself or through a character) think about, talk about, or riff on the topic to Rasaka’s Artistic Director Lavina Jadhwani at lavinajadhwani@lavinajadhwani.com by September 15, 2009.

Call for Fellowship: American Antiquarian Society

The American Antiquarian Society (AAS), a national research library and learned society of American history and culture, is calling for applications for visiting fellowships for historical research by creative and performing artists, writers, film makers, journalists, and other persons whose goals are to produce imaginative, non-formulaic works dealing with pre-twentieth-century American history. Successful applicants are those whose work is for the general public rather than for academic or educational audiences. Deadline October 5, 2009.


Rasaka Theatre Company presents culture/clash: three plays about the South Asian Diaspora

Rasaka Theatre Company presents "culture/clash: three plays about the South Asian Diaspora," a trio of world premieres penned by South Asian playwrights.

The production will include:

  • "Instant Recall" by Anita Chandwaney: Madhu can't seem to recall why she asked Nigel to meet her at the café-or can she?
  • "Night Shift" by Angeli Primlani: A young girl and an older woman face danger and each other in the middle of the night in a motel lobby on a quiet North Carolina highway.
  • "Midnite's Vultures" by Pushkar Sharma: Two Indian-American poets in their twenties confront the paradoxes of their identity when asked what it means to be an Indian in America.
When and Where

The play will take place at the Strawdog Theatre, 3829 N. Broadway St., Chicago, IL 60613. Previews August 13 & 14, 8 P.M. Opens Saturday, August 15, 8 P.M. (reception following). It runs Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays at 8 P.M., Sundays at 3 P.M. and closes September 6, 2009. Performance Time is approx. 75 minutes. For tickets, call 312-777-1070 or visit www.strawdog.org. $20 for regular tickets, $12 for previews August 13 & 14, $12 Student/Senior/Industry (Thurs & Sun only), visit www.strawdog.org with credit cards -or- use cash/check/credit card at the door.

Salma Arastu: born with faith and art in her heart

Salma Arastu has been painting for thirty some years. Born into Sindhi and Hindu tradition in India, she later embraced Islam through her marriage. She has traveled extensively and lived in various countries--India, Iran, Kuwait, UK, Germany and finally the US, where she moved in 1987. In her work, she tries to bring together Eastern spirituality and western techniques of painting, learned over the years.

Three elements are strong influences in her work: Folk art, miniature art and Arabic calligraphy, all adopted along her journeys. Seeing the unity of an all-encompassing God, she was able to transcend barriers often set forth in the traditions of religion, culture and the cultural perceptions of handicaps--she was born with no fingers on her left hand.

Her personal triumphs have been defined and shaped by the simple principle of faith in the divine power, the compelling force which has guided her life and work. As both a Hindu and Muslim woman, a multi-cultural artist, and a mother, she sees unique opportunity in creating harmony and world transformation through the expression of the universe in her art.

The Works

Sufi series I
Mixed media on canvas
36 x 24

Sharing Light
Mixed Media on Canvas
38 x 48

The Homeless I
Mixed media on board
38 x 48

Conversation with the artist

What is the inspiration behind your work?
Well, I cannot deny the influence of Paul Klee, Miro and Picasso from Europe, M.F. Husain and Amrita Shergil from India. I liked the human figure and I admired what these artists had done with them. I wanted to break the traditions and create something new with the figures which would convey my feelings of love, peace, unity, sharing and celebration of life. I have worked hard for several years to achieve this, and I think today I have successfully developed my own interpretation and form. My story begins with a lyrical line and this same lyrical line allows me to design Arabic calligraphy or draw abstract images of crowds of people with same facility. My inspiration is my faith and it keeps me motivated to do more and more. Painting is a way of worship for me.

Tell us about your journey? How did you become an artist? Did you receive any formal training?
Art is my need; a need to express and reach out. From my childhood days, I felt that I had something important to say and I used to doodle a lot. I have been painting for more than thirty years. I earned my degrees in Fine Arts from the College of Fine Arts and Architecture, Jawaharlal University, Hyderabad in 1971 and later in 1974 from the MS University in Baroda, India. I have traveled extensively--from India to Iran to Kuwait to UK, Germany and to the US. And last year, I moved from Bethlehem, Pennsylvania to the East Bay. I have lived for long periods with amazing people and fascinating communities. Folk art, miniature art and Arabic calligraphy are three strong influences on my art, adopted along my journeys.

Describe your style? What medium do you work in?
I am creating a body of work of through a continuous, lyrical line to express joy in the universal spirit that unites humanity. This lyrical line has been my guide over the blank surface of the canvas. With years of practice, it has become freer and more energetic. It has allowed me to create calligraphic designs or a flow of humanity with same facility. I want to spread God’s love by bringing all people together with this single line of positive energy. I have created several pieces that show unity and celebration together. In my art, people are not given any identity and thus represent the entirety of humanity without differences. I recreate these visions which show people in celebrations, visiting neighbors, family reunions, celebration of life, glow of unity and hope of the new earth. I am inspired by Arabic calligraphy and Persian and Mughal miniature arts but my work is very contemporary. I mix both the worlds-Eastern spirituality and Western techniques effortlessly and the results are very original and colorful and lyrical. I paint, sculpt and I am also a print maker. My paintings are varied in sizes and range is from 60”/90” to 20”/20” and I work on paper, board or canvas.

Technically, my work is evolving, and I keep exploring new materials and mediums to convey my expressions. I often use paper, fiber, molding paste etc. to create textured surfaces on which I paint with thin layers of acrylic paints or glazes. Recently, I have started using copper figures on these textured surfaces which give a unique glow to my compositions. I often add fine details with pen & ink as if embroidering them and thus finally bringing the piece together.

What would you consider your biggest success as an artist?
Alhamdulillah I am grateful and here are some achievements listed by the media:

1. I have had more than 40 exhibitions of her work in India, the USA and Europe.
2. Many of my works are in private and public collections --- like the Salar Jung Museum in Hyderabad, the museum of Modern Art, New Delhi, the Harrisburg Art Museum,the Allentown Art Museum and the Pensylvania Power and Light Company.
1. In 2008, the Alameda County commissioned mefor three paintings which are now in the Collection of the County of Alameda.
2. In December 2008, my new book of art and poems in English was published by Half Full Press from Oakland California in their series of Emerging American Artists program. The book is titled The Lyrical Line and has more than 100 images of her works from last 10 years. My paintings celebrate life. In this art book I have tried to trace with lines and color a trajectory of the human emotions that all of us feel no matter where we are from and what our individual situations are.
3. In the summer of 2002, I won a six-week Artist-in-Residence Award. I lived and worked in Swabisch Gumund, in southern Germany where I was hosted by a German family and exhibited my work as a goodwill ambassador for the sister city, Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.
4. I received first place in painting at North Eastern Regional art show at Marywood University, Scranton, Pennsylvania.
5. I have also authored several published works of free verse and short stories in my native Hindi language. My collection of poems, Dard Ki Seedhiyan (Exploring Steps in the realm of Pain) was published in 1981 with a grant from Andhra Pradesh Sahitya Kala (Literary Arts) Academy, Hyderabad, India.
6. Shortly after arriving in the US, I founded Your True Greetings, a successful greeting card company that uses my paintings and calligraphy to serve the needs of Muslim communities in the US, Canada, Japan and the United Kingdom.

How has your work been received by the world and what is next for you?
I am grateful to God as I get very good feedback from my art patrons. They find my work joyful and peaceful. My greatest pleasure is when people find the same message from my paintings that I try to convey. I am attempting to create a world through my art work in which the magic of communion plays a central role. My subjects include people, who do everything together. They initiate each other, they celebrate together, they grieve together, they pray together. In this global world, it is important that we understand each other, accept each other with our differences, and emerge as one human community for the success of humanity.

Your True Greetings
Purchase The Lyrical Line by Salma Arastu

Submission opportunity: Comedy Script Contest

Enter the FOX-PGP-NYTVF Comedy Script Contest and submit your script for an original half-hour comedy series. One winner will receive a development deal with Fox and a $25,000 prize, and Procter & Gamble Productions will have the opportunity to produce a network pilot from the winning script. Up to 25 finalists have the opportunity to earn a first-look deal with Fox. Scripts must be entered by uploading them in a PDF format on the NYTVF upload page.

The submission period will open at noon Eastern on June 1st and will close at 12:00 noon Eastern on June 15th. All submissions must be uploaded during this time period, without exception. The contest will stop accepting entries if this period elapses or if the Festival receives 1,500 script entries, whichever comes first.


Submission opportunity: 2009 BBC National Short Story Award

The 2009 BBC National Short Story Award was launched on 26 March. This year's panel of judges are: singer-songwriter Will Young, broadcaster and journalist Tom Sutcliffe (chair), author Dame Margaret Drabble, Orange Prize winner Helen Dunmore and BBC Radio 4’s Editor Di Speirs.

The shortlist will be announced on Friday 27 November with the five stories broadcast on BBC Radio 4 each weekday before the winner is announced. The five stories will also be published in a special collection. Entries are now open for the Award.

The deadline for entries is 5pm on 15 June 2009.

See the website for details.

Submission Opportunity: Myartspace scholarship prizes

Myartspace, the premiere online venue for contemporary art, is launching their 2nd annual art scholarship competition, with $16,000 in cash prize awards. This merit-based scholarship is intended for students who have a passion for art and demonstrate that passion in their work. Students using all mediums of visual art, including photography, digital media, and sculpture, are encouraged to apply. The program is intended to recognize and award young artists who exhibit exceptional talent.

Myartspace will provide three scholarship prizes for undergraduate students and three scholarship prizes for graduate students. First place winners in each category are awarded a $5000 cash scholarship. Second and Third place winners receive $2000 and $1000 cash awards, respectively. To be considered for a Myartspace scholarship, applicants must be undergraduate or graduate students in an art degree program.

Artists interested in signing up for consideration for a Myartspace scholarship can find out more details by visiting the Myartspace scholarship page. The application process is easy and straightforward. Artists simply register for a free membership at Myartspace, where they can upload unlimited images, videos, and music. Members can then enter the free scholarship competition by submitting their online art gallery following the simple instructions listed on the scholarship page. The deadline for submission is December 16, 2009. Early registrants (students registering before June 15, 2009) will be granted a 3-month free trial subscription to Premium Services, normally a $75/year package.

Last year, scholarship applicants hailed from over 1,200 schools worldwide. Undergraduate winners included Sara Susin (Stanford University), Jessica Brown (University of Alaska), and Zach Stein (University of Kentucky). Visit the Myartspace Scholarship Winners page (http://www.myartspace.com/scholarships/winners) to see last year's winning artist highlights, as well as the top 50 finalists.

Suhas Tavkar and NakhaChitra: The Art of Fingernail Embossing

Suhas Tavkar of Bellerose, New York uses an unlikely tool to create his most intricate and unique embossed masterpieces–his fingernails, using a technique called NakhaChitra, an ancient art form.

Nakha means fingernail and Chitra means art in Sanskrit. Suhas embosses on paper or soft metal using his imagination, disciplined concentration, and precise hand-eye coordination. One wrong move and it’s back to the drawing board. There are no second chances. “It's a demanding technique,” says Suhas. “If a line or impression fails to satisfy me, it can't be undone."

Fortunately for him, each piece of bas relief artwork that Suhas finishes is an instant masterpiece––from the face of Radha, a challenging relief on Strathmore paper to the menacing profile of a bald eagle; to the single line drawing of the contours of a father and son to the provocatively entwined figures of the Pilobilus Dancers. Suhas’s venture into Islamic calligraphy in recent years has received a phenomenal response. His unique art form allows him to intricately carve the letters in Arabic that appear as gloriously decorative patterns on his reliefs. He believes that art is universal and he is open to all religions in his exploration of likely subjects. “My art shows the unique relationship between the human form and the human touch that created it,” he says.

Suhas, who hails from Gujarat in India, is a third generation artist in his family working in NakhaChitra. He recalls being introduced to the technique at the age of four and being fascinated with it. A keen observer of nature and its majesty, Suhas always pictured the universe to be a gallery of the creator. He sees everyone as an artist in their own capacity.

Islamic calligraphy
Embossed on paper

Ajanta Cave Panel
Embossed on paper

Pilobilus Dancers
Embossed on two-ply Strathmore paper

Suhas believes that humans practiced etching on the soft wooden bark of trees or banana and lotus leaves with their fingernails. “The art of fingernail etching may have started a long time ago and fingernail relief drawing may have started when humans started making paper,” he states. “It seems that this has really become a lost art form.”

And Suhas is determined to revive that art form and give it its due place in the art scene. Since graduating from the J.J. School of Arts in India, and immigrating to the U.S. in 1977, Suhas lost touch with his art and focused more on his career as a graphic artist. When he retired in 2007, he decided to dedicate the rest of his life to NakhaChitra, a move he deeply cherishes. Recognition started pouring in soon after. His work has been exhibited at New York State Ballet Gallery, Museum of Natural History, Donnell Center, Tabla Rasa Gallery, Brownson Art Gallery, Chelsea gallery, Hammond Museum, and Queens Museum. In 2008 Suhas received the Curators’ Choice Award. That same year he was invited to participate in Indo-American Art Council's exhibit called Erasing Borders that explores the contributions of artists whose origins can be traced to the Indian Subcontinent.

You may take away tools of other artists and render them unable to create. Not Suhas, he carries his tools wherever he goes. "With these God-given natural tools that are literally at one's own fingertips,” says Suhas, “I believe that every living creature on planet Earth is an artist and also a wonderful piece of art.”

Links to the artist
Contact the artist

Kuzana Ogg

Kuzana was born in Bombay, attended school in Surrey, Kodaikanal, and New York. She graduated from SUNY Purchase with a BFA in 1995. At an early age, Kuzana was introduced to cultures, different from her own, and soon cultivated a love for travel. She has lived in several foreign countries, such as South Korea most recently. Kuzana and her husband were in Kyung Ju for six years. She recently attended a residency and exhibited her work in Sri Lanka. Currently, Kuzana lives in New Mexico with her husband. Kuzana’s work revolves around images both botanical and biological in origin. These forms and colors take on new meaning when juxtaposed as a metaphor for the human experience.

The Works

Cavala, Oil, 24"x48", 2009

Bulbul, Oil, 30"x40", 2008

Worli 7:15 AM, Oil, 30"x40", 2007

Conversation with the artist

What is the inspiration behind your work?
I combine botanical and anthropological forms to describe my relationship to the environment. These abstracted and distilled forms, combined with layers of varying transparency, convey my experiences and memories of life in foreign countries.

Tell us about your journey? How did you become an artist? Did you receive any formal training?
I was born in Bombay, attended school in Surrey, Kodaikanal, and New York. In 1995, I graduated from SUNY Purchase with a BFA.

From a young age, I have been surrounded by beauty. The gardens in Bombay were lush, varied, and bursting with insects and birds of all kinds. At the matrix of this paradise were two elegant grandmothers swathed in silk saris. From them I learned of the wealth of Indian textiles, the tradition of miniature painting, and an appreciation for Bharat Natayaam.

Describe your style? What medium do you work in?
My oil paintings are decorative and abstract. In my work, I am interested in creating color through layers. One of my favorite forms is a simplified mango shape. It embodies the union of botanical and biological forms because it also looks like a developing embryo.

What would you consider your biggest success as an artist?
In addition to the honor of exhibiting my work with my contemporaries, I have enjoyed participating in several art residencies.

How has your work been received by the world and what is next for you?
So far so good! More painting!

Links to the artist
Artist's Website

VCCA Alonzo Davis Fellowship Exhibit 2009

Bivas Chaudhuri, featured on Hyphenated Spirit recently, has an exhibition coming up at Sande Webster Gallery - Philadelphia from July 8 - August 29, 2009. Please use the link below for more details about this event.

Artwork can also be purchased on this website or directly by contacting the Sande Webster Gallery. One-third of each sale (tax deductible) will go to the fellowship fund.

View the feature on Bivas Chaudhuri

Sweta Srivastava Vikram

Sweta Srivastava Vikram is an author, poet, writer, blogger, and marketing professional living in New York City. Born in India, Sweta spent her formative years between the blue waters of Libya and the green hills of Mussoorie, before arriving in bustling New York. She realized her penchant for writing at a very early age when she became the chief-editor of her boarding school’s publication. In 2008, her first book of poetry, Pabulum, was published. Pabulum is a journey through Sweta’s emotions and reveals her opinions based on her experiences. In March 2009, Mirage Books published one of Sweta’s stories as part of a short stories collection, Inner Voices. She is a graduate of Columbia University in New York. Vikram is a part of South Asian Womens’ Creative Collective. She also serves on the board of DesiLit and is a part of the effort to make South Asian poetry a phenomenon in New York/New Jersey. She is seen at poetry readings in New York City.

By Sweta Srivastava Vikram

My soul is searching for peace
Wonder where it is.
A magic that will cease the agony within
As I look for reflection of nirvana in my mental valise.
The caprices of emotion
Transcend beyond momentary ecstasy or tribulation.
Materialism is not the answer
My soul is searching for elixir of life.

Conversation with the author:

What is the inspiration behind your work?
My nonfiction pieces and personal essays are an extension of my personal life; my poems and fiction pieces are thoughts and ideas influenced by the project requirement and own experience – both on a subconscious and conscious level; and my blog posts are mostly philosophical opinion pieces on culture, philosophy, arts. Key inspiration: Life, my personal experiences, emotions at a certain time and point, the flavors of the world altogether, subject matter at hand, and deadlines. It would be unfair if I didn’t give NYC the due credit.

Tell us about your creative journey? Did you receive any formal training?
I started writing at a very young age. As a child, I knew I wanted my name on the cover of a book. I didn’t know what it would take or how I would get there, but I had this dream to be a published author. My father is a prolific poet, so I have his genes to thank for—as the root of my creative journey. I have always enjoyed words and writing has been an ever-evolving journey. When I reflect upon my first book of poetry, Pabulum, I feel I have learned a lot from it. I know my style and voice have taken a different turn and maturity after it. I guess each piece has been a learning experience in its own way, but the core hasn’t changed - my untainted relationship with words. As for formal training, I take workshops often to hone my skills and work with peers and receive their feedback, which I value extremely. Aside from that I have a Master’s degree in Communications from Columbia University.

Describe your style?
I don’t think I have one particular, defined style of writing. I feel comfortable experimenting with different styles and genres. The tone differs and depends on the project. I like to experiment with words without making them sound pretentious. These days I am focused on Haiku and other traditional forms of poetry because they encapsulate the essence of my current project.

What would you consider your biggest success?
The publication of my first book of poetry, Pabulum. The book is a journey through my emotions and reveals opinions based on my own experience. The book, true to its name, was written for the common man—people who enjoy rhyme, humor, simple words, and philosophy but do not have the time or inclination to decipher the hidden meanings behind the poem.

How has your work been received by the world and what is next for you?
Thank God, so far so good. I realized a long time ago that I cannot control the reaction to my work, so I put in my best effort out there (along with my prayers) and hope people appreciate it. As a wise person once said: “You can please some people all the time; all people some of the time; but, you can never please all the people all the time.”

I am working on some personal essays and collection of poems at the moment.

Links to the poet:

Siona Benjamin and Rang de Nila: A Unique Merger of Visual Art and Performance

A haunting classical South Asian dance performance that lyrically enacts an artist’s paintings

"Rang de Nila" or Color Me Blue, a unique performance combining dance, music, and art received overnight fame when it was first performed in 2006. In the routine, dancers assumed the roles of characters in artist Siona Benjamin’s paintings and charmed the audience with their movements, depicting the myriad emotions of a woman and her dramatic transformation. The face of the dancers––Pranita Jain and Ishrat Hoque Rakhi ––are painted blue or “Nila” to symbolize the artist’s own identity as a Jewish woman of color. At one point during the performance, Benjamin stood onstage and mimicked painting against projections of blue female faces expressing love, anger and joy. Since then, Rang de Nila has attained a legend-like status in the world of performance.

New Jersey based Benjamin, originally from India, is inspired by traditional styles of painting, like Indian/Persian miniatures, Byzantine icons and Jewish and Christian illuminated manuscripts. In her work she blends those with pop cultural elements. Her work clearly reflects her multicultural upbringing. "Having grown up in a predominantly Hindu and Muslim society, having been educated in Catholic and Zoroastrian schools, being raised Jewish and now living in America, I have always had to reflect upon the cultural boundary zones in which I have lived,” notes Benjamin.

In her paintings she combines the imagery of her past with the role she plays in America today, making a mosaic inspired by both Indian and Sephardic icons. According to Benjamin, “in this transcultural America I feel a strong need to make art that will speak to my audience of our similarities, not our differences as I feel I can contribute to a much-needed "repair" (Tikkun) through my art.”

Benjamin received a fellowship from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts and the New Jersey Print and Paper Fellowship from Rutgers Center for Innovative Print and Paper of Rutgers University. She earned an MFA degree in painting from Southern Illinois University and a second MFA in theater set design from University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Her work has been featured in the New York Times, The Chicago Tribune, The Jewish Week in NYC and NJ, The Boston Globe, Art in America, Art New England, Art and Antiques, Moment magazine and Nashim-A Jewish Feminist Art Journal.

Upcoming events featuring the artist:
On Sunday, April 19, Benjamin is invited to Mizel Museum in Denver to present her work. The event is organized in collaboration with Denver and L.E.A. Chapters of Hadassah. It will include art exhibition and entertaining performance by the blue dancers. Benjamin will also conduct a Miniature Painting Workshop at the museum the next day. See the museum website for more information.

Links to the artist

April 19, 2009: East End Live Art: Teachers Speak Out

East End Live Art: Teachers Speak Out
5:00 pm, Sunday, April 19, 2009
Café Flores, 6606 Lawndale Street, Houston 77023
$ Free

Teachers are on the front lines, combating this nation's greatest challenges. With very little financial, legislative, or social support, teachers in Houston--one of the most multi-ethnic cities in the nation--daily grapple with social inequity, gifted youth, cultural conflict, united voices, financial shortfalls, generous colleagues, crime, and acts of kindness, and all the complexities inherent in the educational crisis we face. At East End Live Art: Teachers Speak Out, come listen to work by teachers who participate in VBB teacher workshops which blend creative writing with educational psychology and the study of trauma. Student perspectives on education, often overlooked or inarticulated, will be shared as part of an installation that portrays opinions about school and provides advice to teachers. Following the performance, there will be a question and answer session with teachers, performer-educator and VBB Co-Founder Marcela Descalzi, and Victoria Jones, MEd, MA, LPC-Supervisor (psychotherapist; also writer and former WITS Executive Director). As always, there will be an open mic. Bring your voices and come hear talk about the real issues. VBB Founding Director Sehba Sarwar will host the show.

Cosponsored by Rice University's Center for Education, KPFT Pacifica Radio 90.1 FM, Houston Institute for Culture, Houston Area Association for Bilingual Educators, and Café Flores.

East End Live Art: Mothers Who Make Art
5:00 pm, Sunday, April 19, 2009
Café Flores, 6606 Lawndale Street, Houston 77023
$ Free

Each year, people are pushed to celebrate holidays that are targeted to increase the sales for large companies. This year, VBB hosts our first alternative Mother's Day. Join us in our support of artists-mothers Maiah Arnold, Christa Forster, Sharon Engelstein and Kayte Young. VBB Founding Director Sehba Sarwar will host the show, and there will be an open mic for all. Bring your voices!

Cosponsored by KPFT Pacifica Radio 90.1 FM, Houston Institute for Culture and Café Flores.

Writers Digest Annual Writing Competition

Writers Digest is now accepting entries in the 78th Annual Writing Competition. Don't miss your chance to win part of the more than $30,000 in cash and prizes. The deadline for submissions is 05/15/2009. Compete and win in the following 10 categories:

Inspirational Writing (Spiritual/Religious)
Memoirs/Personal Essay
Magazine Feature Article
Genre Short Story (Mystery, Romance, etc.)
Mainstream/Literary Short Story
Rhyming Poetry
Non-rhyming Poetry
Stage Play
Television/Movie Script
Children's/Young Adult Fiction

For details please click on the link below

Call for writers: Random House India

Random House India is launching a desi historical romance series this year, called Kama Kahani, and are looking for writers for their titles next year. If you are interested in the genre and love a good romance, write to Milee Ashwarya, Commissioning Editor, at mashwarya@randomhouse.co.in

Call for Submissions: Green Youth Showcase

Deadline Friday April 17, 2009 - 4PM

Are you a singer/songwriter with a social conscience? Are you a young visual artist who wants to effect positive change? Are you a spoken-word artist with a message to share about the quality of the air we breathe and pollution in our city? The Mississauga Arts Council is now accepting applications from artists between the ages of 13 and 24 to participate in the Green Youth Showcase. The event is an evening of visual and performing arts exploring environmental awareness in Mississauga.

The Green Youth Showcase takes place on Thursday, May 7, 2009 at the Clarke Hall in Port Credit. The evening kicks off with a visual art exhibition at 7 p.m. followed by a performing arts showcase at 8 p.m.

Submissions for the showcase must be dropped off at the Mississauga Arts Council office by Friday, April 17, 2009 at 4 p.m. For application forms and additional information, please visit www.mississaugaartscouncil.com or call 905-615-4278.

Opportunity: Journal Seeks Submissions

Recovering The Self : A Journal of Hope and Healing is actively seeking submissions of previously unpublished material in the form of informative articles, poetry, artwork, short stories, and commentary. Article lengths are suggested to be from 1,000 to 4,000 words, although we are willing to be persuaded to other treatments if the story needs it.

We are tracking the following subject areas with respect to adults, children and elders in America and abroad:

  • Personal growth
  • Relationships and family
  • Trauma recovery
  • Living with disabilities
  • Substance abuse recovery, co-dependence, and addiction
  • Military veterans’ issues
  • The struggle for cultural or gender identity, and
  • Bereavement
Articles should be submitted in Microsoft Word 2003 format (or something equivalent) with as little formatting as possible. It is not necessary to write a query letter in advance. We do accept work that has appeared before on the web, but generally are not interested in reprinting work that is already published in print. You will receive an email acknowledgment within a few days that your item was received. Please direct all inquiries to editor@recoveringself.com.

For more details, please visit the website.

Shaila Abdullah

Noted as "Word Artist" by critics, Shaila Abdullah is an award-winning author and designer based in Austin, Texas. Abdullah's new novel Saffron Dreams, released in February of 2009, explores the tragedy of 9/11 from the perspective of a Muslim widow. Her debut book, is a collection of stories about Pakistani women. She maintains a fairly active blog online by the name of Beyond the Cayenne WallCayenne Lit around the literary work of diverse authors. More information is available at www.shailaabdullah.com.

An excerpt from
Saffron Dreams...

A housekeeper’s nightmare.

An artist’s haven.

There was no other way to describe my turpentine-reeking workroom.

For the longest time, I thought my life was like the canvas of a barmy artist who knew when to begin a project but not when to stop.

I looked at the tubes of color around me. They spoke volumes about my house management skills. They were all over the floor, squished, twisted, folded back, some oozing paint, others with rainbow-colored thumb imprints. I plastered the colors all over the canvas with no subject matter in mind, and gradually frenzy overpowered me. The brush in my hand took on a life of its own, and I bent to its whim. The frantic slish-slosh on canvas was deafening in the quiet room; the errant brush had its own mood. I looked at the hopeful blues on the canvas that with repeated strokes had turned the brilliant orange to sad murky brown. In the end, the hodgepodge of colors that dripped off the canvas all bled into one: scorching black, the only color I wanted to forget.

In all fairness, colors define me. Red reminds me of my marriage, the color of the heady, fragrant mehndi or henna, intricately tattooed on my palms in the ways of tradition; the crimson shimmering wedding dress called sharara I wore the day I married Faizan; yellow, the color of ubtan, a paste I applied religiously to my face twenty days before my wedding in the hopes of getting the coveted bridal glow; and orange, the color of saffron, dusty powder that with the right touch added flair to any dish. It was also the color that Faizan dreamed of having on the cover of his unfinished book, a project he thought would make him a famous writer one day.

But black reminds me of all that is sad and wrong in my life. Ironically, in this country, it validates my state of being a widow. It is also the color of my hijab—the dividing line between my life with Faizan and the one without him. How different lives are from continent to continent. White, the bridal color in the West, is the color a widow is expected to wear in the East, the color the body is shrouded in before being buried in the earth.

The brush fell from my guilty hands, landing on the floor with a tired thud. I stepped back as if struck and looked at the picture in mad fixation. Staring back at me from the canvas, behind the dull last strokes that failed to hide the subject, were entwined towers engulfed in reddish blue smoke. And in the midst of the smoldering slivers was the face of a forlorn and lost child.

Links to the author
Buy Saffron Dreams
Visit the author's website
Visit the author's literary blog

TSAR Publications Invites Submissions

TSAR Publications would like to invite short-story submissions by women of South Asian origin in the United States and Canada, for an upcoming anthology to be published in Fall 2009. The maximum length of a submission should be 4000 words. Their previous anthologies, titled Her Mother's Ashes, and Her Mother's Ashes 2, have both done quite well, and for the new anthology they would especially like to encourage younger writers to submit. More information about their press can be found on their website at www.tsarbooks.com.Submissions should be sent along with brief bios as email attachments to: inquiries@tsarbooks.comThe deadline for submissions is May 15, 2009.More details can be found at www.tsarbooks.com/CallforSubmissions.htm

Reena Bawa

Reena Bawa was born in Ambala Cantt, India. She was born into a Sikh family and practices spirituality. She graduated from Thapar Insititute of Engineering and Technology in India, with Bachelors in Engineering. She migrated to the United States in 2002 after her marriage and since then, has been living in Austin, Texas with her husband. At present, she is an IT analyst at Austin Energy. Reena Bawa has recently started venturing into writing. She is trying to put her creative side to work and for her writing is the most viable outlet. Currently, the focus of her writing is on feminine subjects and spirituality. She has recently become a member of the Writers League of Texas. Her hobbies include staying pretty active physically as she strongly believes that a healthy mind can only rest in a healthy body.

My Morning Prayer

By Reena Bawa

Should I fold my hands and close my eyes
Should I start my laundry list of things that I ask Thee to bless me with?
Should I rote out those lines from my sacred text
Should I follow the rituals in order to please Thee
Should I condition my mind to accept Thy will
Should I have a conversation with Thee?
Should I thank Thee for the countless bounties bestowed upon me
Should I seek Thee
O Dear mind
Forgive me for I do not know how to pray to Thee

I try to seek Thee in all little things that I see
I try to feel Thee like the wind that brushes my skin
I try to experience Thee in all living things that I interact with
I try to love Thee like I have never loved one
I try not to wander aimlessly in Thy’s world
I try not to seek answers to Thee’s mysteries
I try to curtail my quest for Thee
For I know Thee that you are a part of me
O Dear mind
Forgive me for I do not know how to pray to Thee

I ask Thee to bless me with enough wisdom
I ask Thee to bless me with what HE thinks is best for me
I ask Thee to show me my path
I ask Thee to bless me with courage to accept Thy will
I ask Thee to bless me to be at peace with Thyself
I ask Thee to bless me with enough love so that I can forgive
I ask Thee to bless me so that I may seek to be humble and modest
I ask Thee to bless me so that I can find happiness in little things that life brings my way
O Dear Mind
Forgive me for I do not know how to pray to Thee.

Conversation with the poet
What is the inspiration behind your work?
When I realized how little time we have on earth, I started questioning my existence and my reason to be here on earth. I thought the best thing I can do here is to be creative and for me that outlet was in writing. This is perhaps the best way I can channelize my energy and feel good at the end of the day that I did something meaningful. This is my way of connecting with HIM.

Tell us about your creative journey. Did you receive any formal training?
My creative journey has just begun and there are miles and miles to go. No I haven’t received any formal training so far.

Describe your style?
I am more of a fiction writer. I also dabble in poetry and write memoirs. I am still figuring out my style. I think it’s too early for me to nail down on one particular thing.

What would you consider your biggest success?
Success is very tangible and materialistic in my mind. And am no where close to anything that I can claim to be proud of so far that I can consider as a benchmark for success in writing as of now.

How has you work been received by the world and what is next for you?
I am pretty much on the tip of the iceberg in writing and so far I haven’t got any of my works published. So probably this question is not applicable for me right now. I wish someday I reach a stage where I can get my work published. That is something I would want to happen in the near future.

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