Hi friends, I write to you to share the anatomy of a debut chapbook. Now where to start? As you may already know, I enjoy writing prose, particularly flash fiction. Two-thirds of my published pieces are under 1000 word fiction pieces, yet it was destiny that my debut collection should be of poems. (Btw, my first ever published piece was a poem too!). This ocassion demanded a celebration which I wanted to share with lit community. Hence this blogpost. You may have read an earlier post I published about how to compile a collection of one’s work — theme, structure, title, etc. My collection grew on those lines, focussing on the lives of people in small-town India, their struggles, conflicts, and hopes. Interestingly, Fahmidan Publishing picked up my chapbook around that very time and yet, none of my analysis/study prepared me for what awaited. Farah shared images of the cover as it took shape, and the collection was really coming together! Friends, it is overwhelming to find readers (who had an advance copy) tell you they enjoyed the collection, sharing words of generous praise. Then came the advance reviews. First up, came an interview with David L O’Nan in Fevers of the Mind, which fatefully, was about my writing journey — how it started, till the chapbook! Sara Dobbie’s review appeared next, also in Fevers of the Mind. Describing the chapbook, Dobbie writes, “…is a study in provincial struggle, both heart-warming and wrenching at varying points. From the first lines of the title poem Pattnaik takes us by the hand to guide us with stunning imagery through the small-town India of her heart and memory.” I cried after reading it. It meant so much. Daniel Clark, editor of Briefly Zine, published another extremely kind review on November 16, titled “Weathering Words”. Daniel Clark’s concluding paragraph is especially touching: “Mandira’s keen descriptive eye and vivid imagery convert the twists and turns of doubt into an enriching journey. Navigating ‘the fog of | yesterday’ and ‘the palm of tomorrow’ could be a précis of the ongoing COP27 negotiations. Her climate warning is stark – and her poems are a reminder of the beauty and richness of life on our planet.” A nod to how thoughts and dreams resonate and bind us in invisible threads across countries and continents. I’m most grateful. Universal Journal described the collection as “kaleidoscopic” adding, “poems, with chunks of words so intricately woven that one is compelled to take a pause, close the eyes and see it, feel it.” These magnanimous words served to reinforce the palette I’ve long been working with: the colors and images of India — the diversity in culture, scenery and people. If you’re looking to read (or gift your friends) a total experience about a place and people that is so varied, and written by a writer living and observing it every day, the chap is available HERE. It’s digital, so no hassles of postage! Now, the best was saved for last: Until the chap’s launch on November 20, I hadn’t discovered the blurbs Maria S.Picone, Christina Taylor and Keana Aguila Labra had so kindly written for the collection, reproduced below. From when I read them first, and still, I’m at a loss to express how grateful I am. Finally, one of the first people who had bought the collection, shared their reading experience: “An emotional collection flush with beautiful language.” All this is the anatomy of a debut collection! If you’ve published a debut chapbook this year, do share below, and add your experience. And, consider purchasing a copy to support an independent press. That’s all for now, friends! Thanks!
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