The Pearl Edition (January 2022) of The Wise Owl is a celebration of a freshly minted year. We have used the colours, the shimmer and glisten of a pristine pearl to symbolise a new beginning. In our January Edition we have put together some very special segments for our readers and viewers.
Our Edition features an interview with celebrated poet and writer, Arundhathi Subramaniam. She is the recipient of various awards including the Sahitya Akademi Award, the inaugural Khushwant Singh Prize, the Raza Award for Poetry, the Zee Women’s Award for Literature, the International Piero Bigongiari Prize and many more. Her most recent work, a book of essays on contemporary women on sacred journeys, Women Who Wear Only Themselves, has received rave reviews. She talks to The Wise Owl about her work, her creative journey and her spiritual quest.
In our Poetry segment we have put together a Haiku Special for our readers. This genre of Japanese poetry has become increasingly popular. Our Special segment carries a comprehensive article by haiku expert, Dr Pravat Kumar Padhy and includes poetry of UK as well as US based haiku poets Alan Peat, Barry Levine and Indian Poets Neena Singh, Ravi Kiran, Tejinder Sethi, Joe Sebastian and Vandana Parashar.
Our Non-fiction section offers a rare treat. We are starting a series called ‘Abbie’s Travelogues’ which will showcase the travels of travel enthusiast and explorer Abbie Stirling. The first of her adventure series is entitled ‘Patagonia Winds’ and takes the reader to the tiny mountain town of El Chalten, the trekking capital of Patagonia in Argentina. The Musings section brings ‘Breadcrumbs’, a short but beautiful write up about the loss of our childhood by Mischa Pearson, the founder of ‘The Teapot Project’, a Covid-19 response team in Suffolk. The Essay section showcases a group of plucky and brave journalists of ‘Khabar Lahariya’, a newspaper in the hinterland of Uttar Pradesh. A documentary made on these scribes, ‘Writing with Fire’ has been shortlisted in the documentary section of the Academy Awards.
Our Short story section includes two beautiful stories by Ranjit Powar and Chitra Singh. You can also listen to Ranjit Powar rendering her story ‘The Dead Pond’ in our Podcast section. Our Review sections includes a film review of 83, which has opened to rave reviews, an OTT Review of 14 Peaks: Nothing Is Impossible, which follows the inspiring journey of Nims Purja, a mountaineer who overcame insurmountable odds to scale 14 of the highest peaks of the World and a Book review of the Pulitzer Prize winning novel ‘The Nightwatchman’ by Louise Erdrich.
In The Editor’s Pick section, we pay tribute to the great painter and sculptor Shiv Singh whose creations are placed at National Gallery of Modern Art, New Delhi; National Academy of Art (Lalit Kala Akademi) New Delhi; Chandigarh Museum; Panjab University Museum et al. The Visual Art section includes water colours of Harmeet Singh that arrest the eye with their vibrancy, vividness and creative flow, the photographs of Kaveri Bajaj which draw colourful vignettes of the denizens of Rajasthan and the modern architecture of Sejima Kazyou, a Japanese Architect, at the Ecole in Lausanne (Switzerland).
There is something to please every palate. So, find a warm nook and settle down with your favourite brew to browse through our Pearl Edition.
Wishing our readers and Viewers a very Happy New Year.
~ Rachna Singh
The Wise Owl interviews Arundhathi Subramaniam, an eminent poet, prose writer, arts critic, anthologist, performing arts curator and poetry editor. She is the award-winning author of thirteen books of poetry and prose, which include poetry volumes, Love Without a Story and Where I live, a book of essays on contemporary women on sacred journeys, Women Who Wear Only Themselves, The Book of Buddha, When God is A Traveller etc. Her other work includes the acclaimed sacred poetry anthology, Eating God: A Book of Bhakti Poetry and the bestselling biography of a mystic, Sadhguru: More Than a Life.
She is the recipient of various awards and fellowships, including the Sahitya Akademi Award, the inaugural Khushwant Singh Prize, the Raza Award for Poetry, the Zee Women’s Award for Literature, the International Piero Bigongiari Prize in Italy, the Mystic Kalinga award, the Charles Wallace and Homi Bhabha Fellowships, among others. Her volume of poetry, When God is a Traveller (2014) was the Season Choice of the Poetry Book Society and was shortlisted for the T.S. Eliot Prize.
Why the brouhaha about Haiku?
Haiku seems to have caught the imagination of the world. This form of poetry has its origin in Japanese culture and tradition but has achieved widespread popularity and acceptance. So, what is it about this poetry that appeals to people? The Wise Owl decided to find out.
The word ‘haiku’ is a shortened version of the Japanese phrase 'haikai no ku', which literally translates as ‘light verse.’ As the name suggests, haiku is characterized by simplicity, minimalism, absence of ornamentation, an appreciation of natural beauty and a creative leap of imagination. It is this simplicity which attracts a lot of readers and poetry lovers to this form of poetry.
Proponents of haiku believe that it can be recited between the ‘in breath’ and the ‘out breath’. This is perhaps why it is often called ‘one breath poetry’. Haiku advocates believe that as the poetry is connected to the breath, it has powers of healing the mind and the spirit. Barrie Levine, who retired from a long career as a family lawyer and mediator in Massachusetts, started to write haiku when she joined a bereavement group, as a way to heal after she lost her husband and mother in the same year. Barrie regards haiku practice as deeply life-affirming.
There are others who believe that haiku is an effective way of de-stressing. Anne Dunnett, a haiku lover claims in her blog that ‘in a brief moment, it (haiku) can take you away from the cares of the world and root you in the present moment.’
A lot of others believe that haiku offers a sense of spiritual serenity and tranquillity. Joe Sebastian, a haiku poet says, ‘Haiku’s sheer simplicity of 17 syllables, Zen like mysticism on beauteous and bountiful nature and its multifarious interface, including with sentient and non-sentient beings all leading to deep and unique insights and imprint on the human psyche, leading sometimes to revelatory ‘Aha' moments in distinct time and space, deeply appeals to me and that was what primarily inspired me to explore not just haiku but other Japanese short form poetry too' .
We at The Wise Owl realised that there was a lot going for haiku. So much so that featuring a short essay, or a single haiku poet would not do this intriguing poetry genre justice. So, we decided to put together a special haiku supplement for our Pearl New Year Edition. Our haiku supplement includes a comprehensive article explaining the basics of haiku by Mr Pravat Kumar Padhy, a haiku expert. We were fortunate to connect with Neena Singh, a well-known haikuist, who helped us get in touch with other haiku poets from India, UK and USA. So, we have the poetry of seven well-known haiku poets for your reading pleasure. What better way to usher in a freshy minted year?
Memoirs Travelogues Musings & Essays
Abbie Stirling takes the reader on an unforgettable adventure to the Glacier National Park in El Calafate and then to El Chalten, the trekking capital of Patagonia. Through Abbie’s eyes, the reader sees the beauty of the glacier, the tumbling fjords, the windswept snow-capped peaks and feels the havoc caused by the whimsical and gusty winds of Patagonia.
The Trailblazers: Women of Substance
A band of women scribes have taken upon themselves the onerous task of making the world a better place to live in for women, Dalits and economically backward classes. They are the journalists of Khabar Lahariya. The story of these plucky journalists is narrated by Rintu Thomas and Sushmit Ghosh in their award-winning documentary, ‘Writing with Fire’.
Blithe and untroubled, the child in us keeps us young and carefree. But, sometimes, like a little bird in search of breadcrumbs, we follow the path laid out by an unconcerned world and lose this child forever. A deep sense of loss and regret pervades this sensitive, almost elegiac piece about the loss of the ‘inner child’
Stories of Fantasy Romance History
A dinner brings together old college mates Aditya, Ashok and Anjali. But there are strong undercurrents. Are they what they seem to be or is it just a façade for a secret mission or other nefarious and seditious activities? The main course offers no clue, but the dinner culminates in the Dessert and truth is finally revealed.
The Dead Pond
Jamila had arrived with her family from Pakistan for the three-day Urs at the Hazrat Mujaddid Alfasani Dargah in Fatehgarh Sahib in India. But her eyes sought a figure from the past. Her heart yearned and cried out with utter hopelessness for Bant Kaur and Billa, who were lost in the mists of time. Would she find what she had lost? Or carry the pain of irredeemable loss all her life?
Reviews of Movies Books and OTT releases
An Emotional Rollercoaster
Kabir Khan’s 83 recreates the World cup win scripted by a cricket team led by Kapil Dev with finesse. Great script, realistic locales, fantastic acting by Ranveer Singh and the entire cast of actors. The film takes the viewers on an emotional rollercoaster ride. A must watch.
Usain Bolt of Peaks
Nims Pujara, a military veteran and a British Special forces member, quits his job to follow his passion-scaling 14 of the highest peaks of the World. His arduous journey is recorded in the documentary, 14 Peaks: Nothing is Impossible, by Torquil Jonas. The review of the film inspires.
A Story of Tenacious Resilience
The Pulitzer Prize winning novel of 2021, The Nightwatchman by Louise Erdrich is a story about the unfair treatment of the Native Indian American tribes at the hands of unscrupulous settlers and the government. It is also the story of the characters on the Turtle Mountain Reservation in North Dakota who fight the Termination bill of 1953.
A Visual Treat for the Soul
Free Flowing Colors
The enchanting colours of nature are brought alive on the canvas by watercolor artist Harmeet Singh. The colours shimmer and glisten with life.
Modern Architectural Design
EPFL Campus, Lausanne
A computer and science university that showcases the Modern Architectural design of Sejima Kazuyou with panache.
Colorful Vignettes of Rajasthan
The denizens of Rajasthan.
There is never a dull moment in the desert as the multi hued attires sported by the people of Rajasthan add colour to the arid landscape.
Podcast of Top Articles, Features, Poems and Stories
Where Images convey more than words