Unpacking dissent

Updated: Aug 14, 2018, 08:25 IST | Dalreen Ramos

An anthology of fiction and poetry by emerging writers and illustrators seeks to reveal diverse forms of dissent, with a hardcore punk band ending the night on a note of irreverence

Unpacking dissent
Meena Kandasamy

The word "dissent" is perhaps the only word that raises an alarm and in the true sense of the term, implies exactly that. Often lost in translation, dissent need not be polemical, and the launch of Helter Skelter magazine's new anthology transcends the conventional definition with intimate stories accompanied by beautiful art. In 2012, the city-based magazine launched a section dedicated to showcasing young and emerging writing talent in the country. Since then, six volumes of new writing have been published. The first three published digitally were well received and since then, the anthologies are now a print edition.

Late Eunice de Souza
Late Eunice de Souza

"From the start, we made it clear that we weren't looking for a specific agenda. It is whatever dissent means to you. This is a collection of 19 stories and poems of going against the tide, as seen on the cover. It's not only the kind of dissent that is political, but also dissent in our lives," the editor, Arun Kale, says. After receiving several entries from across India, the pieces were hand-picked by Meena Kandasamy and Eunice de Souza, who passed away last year, a month after she made her selection. "This is special because it is probably one of the last things she has worked on and we're really glad to have had a chance to work with her. She has been an amazing right-hand person," Kale tells us.

Arun Kale
Arun Kale

With contributors including young writers such as Harnidh Kaur, Shreya Ila Anasuya, Dyuti Mishra and Tejaswini Apte-Rahm, artworks for each of the pieces were also commissioned by illustrators Mira Malhotra, Tanya Eden, Sonali Zohra, Osheen Silva and Appupen. "But, the writer and the illustrator never talk to each other. Even though the art is derived from the written word, the illustrator is free to interpret it their way. That makes this process interesting," Kale says. For emerging writers the anthology is a new platform that offers mentorship as their work is screened by experienced professionals.

Harnidh Kaur
Harnidh Kaur

Contributor Harnidh Kaur says, "It's always astonishing to read Indian poets write about their own contexts. Things finally click in your head, from the cadence they use to the words they deploy. It's a feeling of being heard and seen, and this anthology amplified that emotion manifold. I'm so grateful to have had the opportunity to submit and see this entire process from the front lines. I hope someone, somewhere reads these poems and feels a little more belonged."

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