heaven or this

"Call me creature cobbled from medulla and the rhythm of song in a foreign tongue." (a reading for you)

My friends, I have a small gift for you that I hope you'll accept: a fumbling & uncertain & honest reading of one of my favourite poems I've written, filmed while I was nestled in the gorgeous sanctuary of Virginia last year. That time of sun on my toes & joy in my chest feels too far away now, but watching this takes me back to that beautiful distance. Performing this piece was a rather nerverwracking - yet, simultaneously, an utterly glorious - experience. Perhaps I might share some of that butterfly-fizz-soft light with you today.

This is called "Love in Goddess-Speak" & was taken from my first chapbook, Heaven or ThisI've also attached the full text here, if you'd prefer to read it.

A reminder that I'm able to share my art with you for free because of the generosity of my lovely Patreon fireflies. If you enjoy my work, please do consider showing your support in a tangible way.

Enjoy. I cannot wait to hear your thoughts in the comments. xox

Love in Goddess-Speak

i.

The first time I realise I am in love
with a girl, I am two moments past ghosting
and every single cup of chai sneers as I pass.
I wish so desperately to be anywhere
but in this family. Somewhere catatonic,
with no lungs for knowing.
I am in love with a girl who has light skin
and glass-stained eyes, and this is just
another way of pronouncing star-crossed,
autumn, the worn-down temple elevator
when it grinds to a halt for no reason at all.

ii.

I am Indian in the way of American accent
and smiling in Tamil when the relatives come
to visit. Call me creature cobbled from medulla
and the rhythm of song in a foreign tongue.
My mother’s cousin squeezes my cheeks,
asks when I will find a nice boy to settle
down with. None of this is revolution, nor
giant solitude, but I want to remember what
the sky looks like when the world ends.
In private, I disappear in her soft arms. In public,
my uncle teases me about boys, pokes my ribcage,
mistakes the tears leaking out of the corners
of my eyes for good-natured laughter.

iii.

My body is a country pulled three different
ways, trampled into topography of wanting.
I read myths of goddesses who rolled
India into their palms, conquered
without blinking. Who baptised their souls
with blood from another aching land, who
refused to let memories pull them under.
I curse profusely. I dream of her mouth. I
do not let the words I bet Kali is a lesbian
slip out of me at family reunions.
My cousins side-eye me when I laugh at
a sexual innuendo, wolf pack wondering.
Later they will go home and speak fast in
Hindi about my scandalous shoulders, how
they peek around the edges of my sari like
something not meant to be remembered.

iv.

I love her in the way that I love garlic naan
and the feeling of a temple after dark.
My mother passes the prata, alu curry. In this
life, I am girl with hair cut short and heart
too big for my body, too afraid of seizured
legends and my cousins’ warring tongues.
I ignore the questions cascading around me.
With one hand I eat the food of a land I am
learning to call my own, even as it pushes me
further away. With the other I send her
text messages under the table, feel
the ground beneath my feet return to holy
as I do.

Art has value.

Wow. Wow.

To be honest, I am not quite sure what other words I have to say.

Over 1000 downloads. So many beautiful, kind emails and tweets. A 4.8-star Goodreads rating and endlessly gorgeous reviews. My expectations for Heaven or This have been blown out of the water. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

This book is a compilation of months of tears, laughter, thoughts, dreams, frustrations, wonders. I had had only moderate hopes for it - but seeing the incredible response, I'm in awe. That Heaven or This struck a chord with so many of you, and brought you light to cast upon the darkness of this week, is the greatest outcome I ever could have hoped for. I adore you.

Many have asked, though, why the deluxe edition of Heaven or This exists. And today I thought I might answer the questions floating through my inbox.

A refrain...

Why must you charge for the book? What's wrong with having just a free chapbook? Are you selling out? I loved the regular edition, but I don't want to pay for the deluxe edition.

Questions such as these pop up often. And my answer is always the same:

Art has value. Art has value. Art has value. Art has value.

Let me elaborate.

A few words that you lovelies have used to describe my pieces, in Heaven or This and otherwise: "gorgeous", "vibrant", "full of warmth", "achingly real".

These words make my heart sing. They mean so much to me; I cannot emphasise enough how lucky I feel whenever I hear them.

But alas: kind words will not pay Six Impossible Things' hosting fees. Not Half Mystic's printing and shipping fees. Kind words will not materialise into currency to pay the beautiful artist who painted the cover of Heaven or This.

In a future hurtling towards me far too quickly, kind words will not keep the lights on or a roof over my head. They will not pay for the groceries.

Kind words mean everything to me, but kind words are not enough.

And I believe that my poetry, my art, has worth beyond kind words.

Art has value. I put out poetry for free on a regular basis - but my loves, this is not my prerogative. Rather, it is my gift. I have no obligation to do this - but I do it because I adore it, because there is nothing I would rather be doing. When I share poetry with you for free, consider it a present. Consider it me, looking in your eyes, saying: I have created this for you, and no one else.

Sharing poetry for free is a conscious choice. And charging money for poetry is just the same.

I believe firmly that my art - that all art - deserves to be paid for. It is valuable. It is worth a small fee per month. I have supported, and am supporting, so many artists through crowdfunding sites - because no matter how much art that they share with me for free, this does nothing to lessen the fact that their art has always been a gift.

We use our time, our energy, our resources, our emotions to create beautiful things. How can there not be worth in that? How can there not be monetary value?

My friends, when I ask you to support me on Patreon, I am asking you to turn your kind words into the assurance that you know. You realise that this art is worth something. If you are financially able and truly do mean what you say in your lovely, lovely compliments - then I request that you choose to vote with your wallet. To show that you appreciate the value in art. To share your support.

To be clear - Patreon support is not a donation, but a conscious contribution to the world of poetry, an affirmation that art has inherent value. My pieces are gifts. They deserve to be paid for. They are worthy of a cup of coffee, or five gumballs, or a dollar store shopping spree, per month.

And in return for your patronage...

Imagine waking up to soft, brightly-lit poems. To pieces that spill over with beauty - or, as one reader says of Heaven or This' deluxe edition, "soft and wild ... melancholy and slowly joyful". 

Imagine seeing a poet's process from the unravelled beginning to the tightly packaged end. Imagine glimpsing the art far beyond what is unveiled on launch day - seeing, first hand, the dedication & inspiration & stories behind each and every piece. It is, as another reader puts it, "otherworldly".

Imagine the trilling thrill, the joy of creation. Imagine being the only one to know of these projects I hint at on social media. Imagine knowing these rose-gold secrets, once clammed up so tightly and now - open to you. As a third reader says, the experience is "fascinating and incredible ... you're a powerful young writer and I'm always enthralled (and inspired!) by how you work".

Art has value. Art has value. Art has value.

Art has value beyond kind words.

Patreon support is only $5/month, stuffed full of magic. Click "become a patron" to show the worth of art. To begin the journey.

Pray for Orlando. (and: introducing Heaven or This)

"She sings at night and I dream of symphonies until morning. When she laughs, I could swear I have never heard a more beautiful sound."

Last night, a gunman in Orlando, Florida opened fire in an LGBTQ+ bar. He killed 50 people and injured an untold number more. It was the most fatal shooting in American history.

I will not lie: this news left my heart in tatters. I have been pacing, picking at my wrists, trying so hard not to break down, mostly failing.

I don't want to talk about politics right now, because this is not what has consumed my mind: instead, it has been a cycle of why must this always be us, of when will the hatred end.

I had planned the release of a project today, featuring queer pride, that I have been working on for many months. Upon hearing the news, I considered postponing it, perhaps to next week—it seemed as if today was just not the right time to celebrate.

But upon further thought: I believe that our queerness is more important to highlight now than ever before. It is an act of defiance as much as one of celebration. And so I continue with this announcement - not to take away from the tragedy of Orlando, but to fight the hate that spurred it, to stand with my queer brothers and sisters, to speak to the world: we are here. Our existence is beautiful and valid. No matter what, we will not back down.

/

I am a girl who happens to be in love with another girl. This is, according to society, an enormously problematic thing.

Also according to society, girls like us should not exist. We don't deserve happy endings. We don't deserve art, fairytales, stories brimming with strength & softness. According to society, girls like us are the definition of tragedy.

/

Introducing: Heaven or This.

This is a poetry chapbook I have written as a quiet manifesto, an expression of joyful defiance. Exploring all aspects of female queerness: the beauty and the terror, the yearning and the warring, the endless confusion and innate peace. There is no room here for what society tells us to be. We are monsters and goddesses in equal measure. Heaven or This is a collection of reminders of that.

This book is fearless. Vulnerable. Soft & electric. Quiet & gutwrenching. A tribute to the years spent discovering my identity. A snapshot of what life looks like when your love is taboo.

Nine poems about girls who love girls, free to read.

You may recognise a few of these pieces - Cherry Blossoms, originally published in Wildness and The Rising Phoenix Review, and Love in Goddess-Speak, originally published in Some Safer Place. Others are brand-new, rippling with rawness, whispering with strength.

Download it for free.

Here is the Goodreads link; feel free to rate, review, share.

If you are as excited as I am (which is, I assure you, very difficult to be—I'm having a hard time even persuading myself that after all of these months, it is here at last!!), consider spreading the love on Tumblr or Twitter.

/

But this is not the end of the collection.

The most special part, you see, happens beyond the original chapbook—Heaven or This, the deluxe edition, five more poems that tie the collection together and truly spark with electricity. The best pieces in this book, the ones that I have wrestled and polished and poured tears & laughter into—they are contained only in the deluxe edition.

Heaven or This: Deluxe Edition contains the original nine poems, along with five more pieces of raging wildfire and quiet wonder.

Not only will readers receive the longer, richer, and even more colourful edition of Heaven or This, these lovelies are the only ones to see the behind-the-scenes work, the moments of love & fury & terror & loneliness & joy that went into crafting each and every line. Every poem in the deluxe edition is accompanied by a lyrical, melodic essay to spin the story behind the poem. How every piece is brimming over with rawness, emotion, memory.

I do not share such stories often. This opportunity is special & rare: the chance not only to glimpse my creative process, but to go beyond inspiration and realise exactly how these poems are crafted. My softness & sharpness, my tiny beautiful experiences are encompassed in these essays.

So: how to gain access?

The deluxe edition is only available to my $5+ Patreon supporters.

Patreon is an incredibly simple and affordable way to support creators such as myself in their art. For $5 per month—that is, less than one cup of coffee—you will receive the deluxe edition of Heaven or This, all of the stories behind the poems, and more lovely perks (monthly artistic care packages, dedications in future projects, live readings, an original short story, and more).

The deluxe edition of Heaven or This cannot be found anywhere else.

Simply join the Patreon community at the $5/month or higher tier—and you will experience the magic of Heaven or This.

I promise you: it is a sight not to be missed.